Access To Legal Assistance (ATLAS)



1 May 2016 – 30 April 2017.

Project Partners:

aditus foundation and The Critical Institute.

Supported by:

This project is funded through the Voluntary Organisations Project Scheme managed by the Ministry for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties.

News & Updates:

On 24 November we launched a public survey to capture feeedback relating to experiences of legal aid. See the News item here.


The legal framework for the protection of fundamental rights and the prohibition against discriminatory treatment in Malta has been in place for a considerable period of time, and has been influenced by the signing of international treaties such as the European Convention on Human Rights, the European Social Charter, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Furthermore, with accession into the European Union, Malta has adopted legislation in the area of anti-discrimination based on the equality directives and is bound by the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights when implementing EU law.

What access do you have to legal information about your rights?

What are the challenges faced by persons requiring legal aid in Malta?

When should the State provide free legal aid?

However, it is a recognized phenomenon that reporting of and acting on breaches of fundamental rights or discriminatory behaviour is surprisingly low both in the Maltese courts and also in the various equality bodies, such as the NCPE, the Ombudsman and KNPD.

There are a number of reasons for this, although we have seen consistently that lack of information and access to sound legal advice are some of the main culprits. This gap is exacerbated for vulnerable or socially-excluded individuals: this could be an effect of socio-economic disadvantages or marginalization due to, for example, belonging to an ethnic minority, having a physical or intellectual disability, or being queer or transgender.

Access to mainstream professional legal advice and litigation can be an expensive and lengthy process and the availability of legal aid assistance is crucial in order to guarantee access to justice for victims. This is also relevant in situations where mere information on the nature and content of rights is required.

The main objectives of Access To Legal Assistance (ATLAS) are to identify State human rights obligations in relation to provision of legal aid, to map the actual availability of legal assistance for the protection of fundamental rights, to increase the capacity of legal professionals who give pro bono legal assistance (in NGOs or privately) and to produce accessible fact-sheets on access to justice and redress mechanisms for breaches of fundamental rights or equality legislation.

Want more information? Contact Carla ( or Shaun (

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In partnership with thecriticalinstitute

This project has been funded through the Voluntary Organisations Project Scheme managed by the Malta Council for the Voluntary Sector on behalf of the Ministry for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties.