UNODC presents national legal aid strategy in Mali

 This activity was funded by Austria

Access to justice is fundamental to the protection of human rights. Indeed, as recognized by several international instruments, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, when a person's fundamental rights to liberty and life are put at risk by the State, that person has a right to legal assistance to ensure that the State properly meets the burdens and obligations imposed by the law to do so, and further, has not violated the rights of the individual in the process.

UNODC is committed to increasing the access to justice in the Sahel countries. Therefore, in partnership with the Ministry of Justice of Mali, it organized a validation meeting of the national legal aid strategy prepared by UNODC. 

The objective of the meeting, which took place on 26 and 27 August 2015 in Bamako, was to present to the national stakeholders the guiding principles, the objectives, the content and the ways of implementation of the national strategy. The meeting allowed for members of the ministry and stakeholders to give their input on the strategy which covers a module on legal aid access only on criminal matters.

UNODC experts and workshop participants

The meeting efforts were concentrated on the guiding principles and priority objectives of the strategy. The participants agreed on the following guiding principles: Equality and non-discrimination; accessibility; efficiency; effectiveness; sustainability; ownership by the beneficiaries; and, inclusion of all the relevant actors. They also agreed on the four priority objectives: promoting access to justice; guaranteeing legal aid to vulnerable groups; improving the administration of justice in the area of pre-trial detention; and, assuring the coherence and sustainability of the legal aid system.

Furthermore, a discussion was conducted on the feasibility of pilot project on pre-trial detention, the objective of which would be to have a better management of this legal tool of the criminal justice system.

The meeting ended with the representatives of the Ministry of Justice requesting a follow-up meeting when the strategy is finalized to discuss it internally.

The development of national legal aid strategies for the Sahel countries is an implementation of the recommendations of the First Regional Meeting on Legal Aid of the Sahel Region that UNODC organized in September 2014. This event was made possible thanks to the financial contribution of Austria.

Further information:

Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems in Africa: Survey Report

United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel

UNODC Contribution to the UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel