“Do I have a right to justice?” Improving access to legal assistance in Malta

The final event of the ATLAS project, held on the 28th April, 2017, provided speakers and participants alike the opportunity to discuss the issues relating to improving access to legal assistance in Malta.

Minister Helena Dalli, in her opening address, explained that legal aid is essential in order for individuals to have access to an effective remedy and that the current means threshold is effectively barring the majority from receiving such legal aid even in situations of abuse such as domestic violence. Mr. Tamietti, Deputy Section Registrar of the European Court of Human Rights, gave an in-depth commentary on the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights relating to access to legal assistance in the criminal (Salduz v Turkey; Borg v Malta; Ibrahim and others v the United Kingdom), civil (Airey v. Ireland; Steel and Morris v. United Kingdom) and immigration (Maaouia v FranceKhlaifia and others v Italy) fields.

Dr. Marc Sant, Head Advocate for Legal Aid within the Legal Aid Agency, outlined the provision of legal aid services in Malta, including eligibility criteria and the procedure for applying. An overview of recent changes, such as the recent set-up of the Agency and statistical data, were also outlined. Dr. Sant’s presentation can be accessed through this link: Legal Aid Agency Malta – Presentation.

Carla, project coordinator and assistant director of aditus foundation, presented the results of the ATLAS project and the main findings and recommendations that are contained in the final report on Access to Legal Assistance in Malta.  The objective of the report was to analyse the availability and outline the importance of having access to legal assistance for individuals who cannot afford the costs of legal representation in Malta. The Report is divided into three Sections:

  • Section 1: highlights existing international and European human rights standards relating to access to legal aid and Malta’s obligations
  • Section 2: analyses the legislative, judicial and administrative implications of the Maltese legal aid system
  • Section 3: examines the provision of pro bono legal assistance and how it can support the formal legal aid system

Furthermore, together with the Report, a number of Factsheets were drawn-up which provide basic information on the right to legal aid, the right to a fair trial, the court structures and other equality bodies in Malta. These can be downloaded individually or as a package from aditus’ publication page under the Factsheet heading. Carla’s presentation can be accessed through this link: Access to Legal Aid Assistance in Malta – Assessment of the Legal Aid System in Malta.

aditus and The Critical Institute hope that the Report will stimulate the discussion for a continuing reform of the justice system in Malta. The aim is to increase access to justice for vulnerable and marginalised groups through a stronger and more efficient legal aid system and through better awareness and enthusiasm for pro bono work amongst lawyers.

If you believe that your institution, NGO or department would find hard copies of the report or the factsheet useful, please do not hesitate to contact us on [email protected] 

 

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.


#Legal Aid. Have you used it?! Take our Survey!

Have you h14523166_1123522887728473_4723673458570034879_nad experience in accessing the public legal aid system? Were you assigned a lawyer through the legal aid agency or the advocate for legal aid? Take our short survey! We are looking for information on your experience with the legal aid system, the survey is anonymous and participants details will not be kept or otherwise published.

Click here: TAKE THE SURVEY 

aditus is carrying out research on the current public legal aid system in Malta, we want to understand its values and gaps in order to increase awareness on how people can access justice in Malta. 

For more information contact [email protected] or [email protected]


Update on our main access to justice project

The ATLAS (Access to Legal Assistance) project (1 May 2016 – 30 April 2017) is moving forward!

Alessia, our new Project Officer, has finally moved to Malta and, together with Carla, they have identified relevant stakeholders and are now conducting interviews with service providers.

We have already met the General Legal Aid Unit and the Third Country Nationals Unit, gathering information about the actual availability of legal assistance in Malta for asylum, civil and criminal proceedings.

We have also spoken to pro bono lawyers and NGOs providing free legal aid, for the purpose of gauging access to legal assistance and identifying the effective need for pro bono systems within a corporate social responsibility.

We will conduct several more stakeholder interviews to understand how service-users access legal aid services, and to note their experiences with the system.

Interviews will contribute to our research, that will focus on international and EU obligations in relation to provision of legal assistance, on current Maltese legislation and legal aid systems, as well as on recent proposals to the justice reform initiative in order to guarantee access to free legal assistance.

We are constantly following new legal developments so to have a comprehensive knowledge of the right of access to a lawyer.

Also, as part of the capacity-building aim of the ATLAS project, we are organising a national workshop. We have invited national and international speakers and organisations for them to cast light on Malta’s obligations to provide legal aid as a fundamental human right of all people who are accused or suspected of crimes, who face any period of imprisonment, are involved in serious or complex cases, or who do not have the capacity to defend the case themselves.

Our aim is to define the possibilities to create and maintain an efficient legal aid system in Malta.

If you have any views on legal aid in Malta, or want further information on this project, get in touch with Alessia Cicatiello at [email protected].

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

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