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Obstacles in access to justice

Niš, 04.04.2024.

The eleventh lecture, for the second generation of participants, as part of the training program Strengthening capacities for judicial reform - southern Serbia, was held by Dr. Nevena Petrušić, professor at the Faculty of Law at the University of Niš, and Dragan Đorđević, president of the Committee for Human Rights in Niš (CHRIN). The lecture title is Obstacles in access to justice. 

The Constitution of Serbia guarantees every citizen the right to a fair trial. Everyone has the right to have an independent, impartial, and legally established court, fairly and within a reasonable time, publicly discuss and decide on his rights and obligations, the validity of the suspicion that was the reason for initiating the proceedings, and the charges against him. Access to justice cannot be considered effective if citizens, especially members of marginalized and socially excluded groups, do not know their rights, if they are afraid of the justice system, if it is not financially accessible to them, if they find it difficult to navigate it, due to its complexity, lack of knowledge of the language and proceeding. The possibility of access to justice depends on many factors, but of primary importance is the existence of an effective legal aid system, which ensures the provision of legal aid, free of charge or at reduced costs, to all those who need such assistance and are unable to pay for it. 

The lecture discussed the following: 

• what are the key obstacles in accessing justice in Serbia 

• whether the system of providing free legal aid is adequate (the right to free legal aid and exemption from paying the costs of proceedings in criminal, civil, and administrative proceedings); while the total number of users of this system is not publicly available 

• what is the role of lawyers, and whether there is room for citizens' associations and legal clinics in providing legal assistance 

• what is the procedure for approving free legal aid, and who is in charge 


The lecture also discussed the abuse of procedural powers in the context of the right to a trial within a reasonable time. 

The lecture was realized with the support of the Open Society Foundation


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