CHRIS’s Legal Aid Network that processed over 800 cases during year 2002 only, and rendered legal assistance in more than 1200 cases, was redefined in new circumstances. It was necessary to find a way in which it could operate more efficiently in existing circumstances and be sustainable enough for lasting future engagement in the human rights domain. YUCOM’s Legal Aid Office has good cooperation and close logistic and functional relations with the Committees for Human Rights Network – CHRIS. YUCOM and CHRIS are now to establish a Legal Aid Network that can meet the goals that both partners recognized, with financial support of the Swedish Helsinki Committee for Human Rights.
The general idea is to decentralize already successful model and introduce training for attorneys as well as to continue with advocacy and lobbing. The purpose of the project would be to create and train a “pool of lawyers” throughout Serbia (seven municipalities), that would be capable of rendering free legal assistance to victims of human rights violations and represent them before courts, administrative organs and other institutions.
Through the reported cases, Legal Aid Network will gain data on access to justice and on problems that exist in legislature. Those will be excellent indicators on the need for campaigns for amending existing laws and adoption of new laws. The most substantial legal problem is the incompatibility of the existing laws with European and international standards, as well as the incompatibility and indeed conflict of the legislation in Serbia with the federal legislation.
This leaves open ground for official interpretations that are not in the interest of citizens and legal stability. This includes the domination of political instead of legal factors in the everyday law enforcement. Long-term project goal is the promotion and protection of human rights in accordance with the highest international legal and professional standards. Moreover, the goal of this project is to create qualified human rights defense cadre and prepare Serbia for the future European integration.