Non-government organizations – partners of the USAID New Justice Program – are actively engaged in development of Community Justice Centers (CJCs) in Ukraine. At the last regular Rule of Law Donors and Implementers Meeting, which was organized by USAID on April 1, 2020, they shared their experience of facilitating the processes of developing legal capacities of communities and ensuring access to justice for all people. Due to the quarantine, the meeting was held in the video conference mode for the first time and involved over 70 participants including representatives from the justice sector, judicial institutions, and non-government organizations.
During their joint presentation, Yevgen Poltenko, Executive Director of the Legal Development Network, Roman Lykhachov, Head of the Chuhuiv Human Rights Group, Nataliya Kulikova, Project Manager of the Chernihiv Public Committee of Human Rights Protection, Olga Nastina, Head of the Bila Tserkva NGO “Pravova Yednist’”, and Igor Brynosh, Project Manager of the Odesa regional organization of All-Ukrainian NGO “Committee of Voters of Ukraine” presented activities of CJCs. The latter, in partnership with local government authorities and courts, provide legal assistance to individuals, thus, facilitating prevention and solution of community problems in a legal way. The speakers also shared the challenges CJCs are currently facing including those caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the innovative solutions they are using to provide consultations and legal assistance to the public remotely – over telephone, via Internet, the social media, and messengers. According to the CJCs representatives, community members have to deal with such burning issues as a threat of potential limitations of their employment, health, and housing rights at the time of quarantine, business operations matters, social benefits, and receiving judicial and administrative services remotely.
Besides, the meeting participants discussed a need to summarize and disseminate best practices to further develop the CJC network and potential areas where international donors could assist the justice sector institutions and courts to facilitate their operations under conditions of restrictive measures.
The following CJCs have been set up in Ukraine with support from USAID New Justice Program: CJC in Odesa (jointly with the Ukrainian Association of Investigative Judges and Kyiv Raion Court of the Odesa City; opened in January 2019); CJC in Tatarbunary, Odesa Oblast (set up by Odesa Oblast Organization of the Ukrainian Voters Committee; opened in February 2019; operates with support from the European Union effective 2020); CJC in Chuhuiv, Kharkiv Oblast (set up by the Legal Development Network; opened in January 2019). Building on these successful models, New Justice is currently supporting the establishment and development of three more CJCs in Bila Tserkva, Kyiv Oblast, Ichnya, Chernihiv Oblast, and city of Chernihiv since March 2020.