On March 14, 2018, the ceremony of signing the multilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Ministry of Justice, Coordination Centre for Legal Aid Provision, USAID New Justice Program and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Ukraine took place. The goal of signing the document was to establish cooperation between the parties with the view of applying best practices concerning justice-related issues for children, particularly within the free legal aid system.
“The Government of Ukraine, the Parliament and the President pay comprehensive attention to the issues of child rights’ protection. Today we are signing the memorandum and launching the first practical initiatives on mediation for juveniles as well as training for free legal aid lawyers on how to deal with children”, stated Minister of Justice Pavlo Petrenko.
“We acknowledge the Ministry of Justice’s leadership and commitment to safeguarding children’s rights in Ukraine. We are no less pleased to join efforts with UNICEF, and other stakeholders, to improve access to the justice system for Ukrainian children. This will not only improve the quality of free legal aid services provided to children, but also promote greater public trust and confidence in the overall justice system”, said Thomas White, Director of the Office of Democracy and Governance, USAID Mission for Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova.
According to Oleksii Boniuk, Head of the Coordination Center for Legal Aid Provision, there are special requirements in the current legislation for judges, prosecutors and investigators involved in children-related cases, however, the legislation does not say anything about similar requirements to the lawyers.
“This Memorandum will help us fill this gap in legislation”, he emphasized.
Under the MOU the USAID New Justice Program will support the Ministry of Justice and Coordination Center for Legal Aid Provision in the development of a curriculum and conducting training programs for legal aid lawyers on the rights of juveniles in the criminal justice system.