Ukraine’s Minister of Justice, Pavlo Petrenko, today lauded Canada’s ongoing support for Ukraine’s emerging legal aid system.
“Canada’s contributions to the development of Ukraine’s legal aid system are helping advance our efforts to make timely and equitable access to the justice system for all Ukrainians a reality”, the Minister stated.
The Minister made his comments following a series of technical meetings between key architects of Ukraine’s rapidly evolving free legal aid system and senior federal and provincial justice officials, representatives from Canada’s legal community and civil society organizations.
The meetings were organized and facilitated by the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) which is leading a five -year technical assistance project to improve the quality and accessibility of legal aid provision in Ukraine. In 2014, the Government of Canada announced a $9.51 million contribution to the CBIE to support these efforts.
Noting that Canada’s legal framework accommodates both French civil law and British common law traditions, is administered at both the national and provincial-territorial levels and features distinct, publicly funded legal aid delivery models and systems across all 13 jurisdictions, the Minister observed that:
“Canada’s multi-facetted system for legal aid provision allows us to identify a broad range of best-practices to inspire and inform the design of our expanding legal aid regime. The willingness of our Canadian partners to share with us their insights, tools and expertise will help Ukraine’s most vulnerable citizens to protect their rights and interests through the court system”.
CBIE’s Project Director, Larissa Bezo, emphasized that Canada’s activities are designed to improve the quality of and access to legal aid services for Ukrainians:
“Until very recently, all Ukrainian citizens were obliged to pay privately for legal advice and representation. For many Ukrainians, particularly vulnerable ones, the requirement to pay-out-of-pocket for legal representation often resulted in them having to do without. The situation perpetrated inequality and had a corrosive effect on citizens’ confidence and trust in public institutions and the “fairness” of the justice system. Such confidence and trust are essential building blocks for effective democracies.”
With 50 years of experience, CBIE engages in capacity-building partnerships in countries in the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia and the Americas. Its areas of expertise include scholarship management, governance, education institutional design and management, and education sector capacity building. CBIE has been an active participant in initiatives to strengthen civil society, support the rule of law and promote democratic reform in Ukraine. Over the past 24 years, CBIE has delivered 18 projects in Ukraine, spanning areas from civil service modernization to community economic development and, more recently, to legal aid reform.
Director, Quality and Accessible Legal Aid Project (QALA)
Canadian Bureau for International Education
613-237-4820 ext. 236