Support to Legal Aid and Dispute Settlement in Family Courts

What is the project about?


In support of the Government of Egypt’s (GOE) efforts to develop the judicial system, the first phase of collaboration between the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) and the (UNDP) started in 2008 was designed to introduce the legal aid concept as well as strengthen the mediation function of Family Courts. In 2013, the project was evaluated by an independent consultant and based upon the recommendations of the evaluation and the request of the Ministry of Justice, the second phase of collaboration between MOJ and UNDP supported by the Government of Sweden is designed to:

1.  Strengthen operational efficiency, transparency and integrity in Family Courts and Family Prosecution. Key activities include:
- Conducting in-depth assessment of needs to develop the training needs, methodologies and programmes:
- Improving court & case management, scheduling & streamlining of procedures: and
- Upgrading automation and networking in family court system (family courts; legal aid offices; family prosecution; and Nasser Bank to facilitate/expedite access of women to alimony).

2.  Increase access to legal Information on Personal Status Law and Family Courts Law. Key activities include:
-  Upscaling the establishment of Legal Aid Offices in family courts and hotlines including to get feedback.
Disseminating legal information.
Design and implementation of outreach campaigns for Literate and illiterate women.

The Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and UNDP, signed the protocol for legal aid offices supported by the Kingdom of Sweden emphasizing that the lack of inclusion of women in policy and decision-making bodies, limits not only the possibilities for fully entrenching the principles of democracy, but is also an impediment to economic development.

What have we accomplished so far?

1. During the period 2009 through 2013, 27 legal Aid Offices (LAOs)and Legal Aid Front offices (LAFOs) were established by the project in family courts in different governorates such as Suez, Cairo, Alexandria, Sharm El Sheikh, Fayoum and Mansoura. During this period, LAOs and LAFOs addressed 33,952 cases.

2.  LAFOs and LAOs are electronically equipped and connected with the Judicial Information Centre and the Project Management Unit at MoJ. The project has a fully updated website, http://www.ladsegypt.org, with a map that indicates the location of Family Courts.

3.  LAO and LAFOs play an important screening function, since they provide primary legal aid to the citizens, offering free advice on simple legal matters, and then referring the clients to Family Courts.  They provide:
a.Guidance to litigants on the procedures in Family Courts by revising and completing the legal documentation;
b.Draft notes and petitions for those not fluent in reading and writing, including the illiterates, elderly and other citizens requesting assistance.
c.Preparation of electronic files for each citizen existing computerized program

4.  Over 200 employees of the Dispute Settlement Offices (i.e. psychologists, sociologists and legal staff) participated in trainings on legal aspects, mechanisms and skills for dispute settlement, details of the personal status law, communication, mediation and IT skills, central information database in the LAOs, child’s rights, and general provisions for alimony. In 2013, a training workshop was organized for judges of family courts on the practical problems facing family courts such as problems associated with inheritance, custody residence, divorce, marriage proof etc.

5.  The Project availed the opportunity to:
a.2 Family Court judges to participate in the International Conference on Equitable Access to Justice: Legal Aid and Legal Empowerment'” in New Delhi - November 2012
b.2 judges to visit family courts in France in cooperation with the French Cultural Center

Who finances this project?



UNDP and Swedish International  Development Agency (SIDA)

Delivery in previous fiscal year

USD 98,450

Project Overview
Status:
Ongoing
Project start date:
April 2008
Estimated end date:
December 2015
Geographical coverage:
Cairo, Alexandria, Suez, Bani Suef, South Sinai and Luxor
Focus area:
Democratic Governance
Project officer:
Naglaa Arafa
Partners:
Ministry of Justice, SIDA, UNDP