Women and men residing in four regions of Moldova may access free of charge the legal assistance services of five more paralegals and 70 lawyers, recently contracted/engaged in the territorial offices of the National Legal Aid Council (NLAC). The paralegals will also contribute to the better information of the population from the neighboring localities about the primary legal assistance and the state-guaranteed legal.
The number of specialists was supplemented because of the proposal submitted in the spring of this year by the Dialogue Platforms for Access to Justice in Criuleni, Soroca, Cimișlia and Comrat. The Platforms were created in 2020 with the support of the Institute of Penal Reforms, within the project "Strengthening efficiency and access to justice in Moldova", implemented by UNDP Moldova, with the financial support of Sweden.
During quarterly meetings of the platforms, their members - judges, prosecutors, lawyers, paralegals, police officers, mediators, doctors, representatives of district councils and mayoralties, civil society - identified insufficiency or even the lack of accessible primary legal aid services for the local population as a barrier in ensuring access to justice is the in the four intervention regions. More, the platform’s members noted the insufficient number of lawyers (upon request) involved in the provision of state-guaranteed legal aid services (qualified legal aid), compared to the number of pending cases, where their involvement is necessary, which leads to delays in examination of cases in courts.
Thus, three paralegals were employed within the Bălți Territorial Office, under whose jurisdiction the district of Soroca is included, 2 - within the Comrat Territorial Office, which also covers the Cimișlia district. Previously, only 2 paralegals were active in Soroca, and there were no paralegals in Cimișlia district. By the end of this year, it is expected to fill 5 more paralegal positions within the NLAC territorial offices.
NLAC also decided to supplement/reassign 70 more lawyers upon request. The following aspects were considered in taking this decision: population’s number, distance from the locality to a district center, the presence of an ethnic/minority group in localities, the presence of community mediators in the locality (which could facilitate addressing paralegals), geographical positioning of the locality, etc.