Today, within the network of “PRAVOKATOR” legal clubs in Kyiv and simultaneously in Kharkiv, Odesa, Dnipro and Lviv, the Coordination Center for Legal Aid conducted the 1st All-Ukrainian Forum “Law&Awareness” with the support of the Ministry of Justice, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), International Renaissance Foundation and Ukrainian-Canadian Project “Affordable and Qualitative Legal Aid in Ukraine”.
Opening the forum, Minister of Justice Pavlo Petrenko noted that the development of the system of free legal aid is one of the most successful projects of the Government and the Ministry of Justice.
“Equality and freedom of every person is the greatest value in any society. Ukraine, as a nation that has gained its independence through extremely difficult historical and dramatic events, has been defending this independence for centuries, is now actually going through the historical phase when we are again learning to appreciate the rights. Over the past five years, Ukraine has made a huge leap in the development of legal awareness. Ukrainians finally believe that their rights can and must be protected,” said Pavlo Petrenko.
Acting Director of the Office of Democracy and Governance at USAID Mission to Ukraine and Belarus Ann Hopper emphasized the importance of cooperation among public institutions and local self-government bodies, non-governmental organizations, civil society and legal community in raising awareness of Ukrainian citizens and helping them to exercise their rights. To have this legal knowledge is equally important for citizens.
“USAID is proud through the New Justice Program to work with the Ministry of Justice on the “I HAVE A RIGHT!” project. Over the course of nearly two years since this project has launched we have seen truly outstanding results in raising awareness of citizens about their rights, such as the right to a fair trial, the protection of children, the protection of property rights, and many others,” Ann Hopper said. “USAID stands with you as you work to extend justice reform and legal knowledge in line with expectations of Ukrainian citizens.”
“For the first time about 75 Ukrainian NGOs together with representatives of the government gathered to discuss ways to increase legal literacy among Ukrainians. Legal education is gradually becoming a key focus for all who work in one way or another on access to justice. Therefore, we hope that such forums will be held annually,” said Oleksiy Bonyuk, Director of the Coordination Center for Legal Aid.
During the forum, representatives of civil society, human rights community, international organizations shared their thoughts on how to shape the legal awareness of the society, identified strategic priorities for the development of legal awareness, in particular under the project “I HAVE A RIGHT!” and discussed ways to improve cooperation in the implementation of public outreach at the regional and national levels.