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MDTF Activities > Key controversies in the process of drafting the Law on Free Legal Aid

Key controversies in the process of drafting the Law on Free Legal Aid

The Round table was organized in the Palace of Serbia on 26 January 2017, with participation of key civil society organizations, representatives of different Bar associations, as well as the EU Delegation, the OSCE and representatives of various embassies, and MDTF donors.

The aim of this event was to publicly discuss about the key obstacles to finalization of the Draft law. The Ministry of Justice has finalized the Draft law through the work of the Working group, but certain unresolved issues remain. Given the ongoing disagreement between the representatives of the Bar and civil society organizations regarding the providers of free legal aid, there is a need to consider these different standpoints, before to the adoption procedure in order to enable swift implementation of the law upon adoption. The Ministry of Justice perceives the need for consensus of the relevant stakeholders as very important for implementation of this law.

Prior to the event, the Draft Law was provided to all the invited participants along with the agenda. The key provisions of the Draft law were also presented through a power point presentation. The provisions on providers of free legal aid were the main focus of the discussion. Different standpoints regarding the interpretation of the Article 67 of the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia were discussed, whereby the Bar representatives strongly opposed the idea to accept CSOs as free legal aid providers. Concurrently, the representatives of the CSOs emphasized the experience in providing free legal aid, the importance of a wider availability of free legal aid to vulnerable groups and specialization in certain fields (violence against women, LGBT rights, Roma population, victims of human trafficking, etc.).