Final Project Document: Legal Aid in Humanitarian Settings (First Phase)
Access to justice is understood as the “ability of people to seek and obtain a remedy through formal or informal institutions of justice, and in conformity with human rights standards and fundamental to the protection of human rights”. Efforts to ensure full and equal access to justice for all, including populations affected by humanitarian and displacement crises should be at the centre of a humanitarian response. Their ability to access justice is essential to prevent and respond to protection concerns but they often lack or have very limited access to justice due to the collapse or malfunctioning of institutions and infrastructure following armed conflict, disasters or pandemics. Displaced persons face a number of challenges ranging from discriminatory social and cultural norms and practices, inadequate national laws, malpractice and abuse in the justice system and public administration and lack of political will of authorities to act. The UN Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems, 2 mention IDPs’ and refugees’ needs explicitly, therefore recognizing these groups’ needs and the need for taking specific measures to enable equal access to legal aid for them.