Kosovo’s Free Legal Aid Council Maintains Momentum for Transformative Change

Speeches Shim

Friday, February 19, 2021
At the establishment of the Kosovo’s Free Legal Aid (FLA) Council
NSCS for USAIDKosovo

The Free Legal Aid (FLA) Council is responsible for overseeing the full implementation of the Law on Free Legal Aid, the Free Legal Aid Agency’s (FLAA) operations, and the regulation of legal aid service providers.  However, when the mandate of Kosovo’s Free Legal Aid (FLA) Council expired in October 2018, Kosovo’s Parliament did not appoint any new council members for 24 months due to political changes and priorities.  Rather than let the council’s work on overseeing free legal aid cease in the interim, the outgoing members appointed a non-decision-making, interim body made up of former council members and FLAA representatives to continue to support FLA goals.  This interim council and the FLAA continued operations with USAID’s assistance, until new council members could formally be appointed.

During the interim period between councils, USAID’s Justice Matters activity supported the interim members to review the impact of the 2015-2019 FLAA Strategic Plan, monitor the implementation of the current five-year plan, and prepare the 2021 FLA Council Work Plan.  Once Parliament finally appointed new FLA Council members in November 2020, the interim council and former members of the prior appointed council handed over their proposed list of work priorities and plans—the first-ever formal handover process to be initiated by an outgoing FLA Council.  These USAID-assisted efforts allowed the new formally appointed FLA council to hit the ground running and immediately become operational.  The new council consists of representatives from various ministries, the Supreme Court, Kosovo Bar Association, and NGOs.

Once appointed, the new FLA Council moved quickly to review, endorse, and put into action the plans and strategies made in the interim.  The council can now proceed with key regulatory reforms, internal council regulations, and regulations for accrediting legal aid providers.  While also continuously cooperating with the FLAA to better expand access to legal aid services and legal information for Kosovo’s most vulnerable communities.  With USAID’s capacity-building support, the FLA Council and the FLAA were able to overcome the long lapse in formal leadership and are poised to continue to ensure that access to justice is available for all Kosovo citizens.

Last updated: March 05, 2021

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