ILF Wins UN Grant to Strengthen Legal Aid in West Bank

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ILF-West Bank attorneys Nael Ghannam, Nour Bustami, and Suad Jawan discuss a case with International Fellow Daniel Breger, an experienced criminal defense lawyer from the United Kingdom (assisted by interpreter Aseel Ibrahim)

The International Legal Foundation is pleased to announce that we have received funding for our West Bank office through the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) for a project entitled “Increasing Access to Justice in the West Bank by Strengthening the Criminal Legal Aid System.” This two-year grant will allow the ILF to expand its work defending the rights of the indigent accused in the West Bank.

The right to free counsel for poor persons accused of a crime is enshrined in law in the West Bank, yet most indigent accused are denied access to effective legal representation. The government legal aid system is not meeting the need and few lawyers are trained to provide effective criminal defense services. In addition, police, prosecutors, and courts routinely engage in practices that are unsupported by law and further undermine the rights of the accused.

With funding from the UNDEF, the ILF will work to address this problems by: (1) training Palestinian lawyers to provide more effective criminal defense services to the poor; and (2) establishing clinical legal education programs in three universities in Ramallah, Jenin and Al-Khalil that will increase access to legal representation in misdemeanor cases by enabling law students to provide legal assistance in these cases. In addition, the project aims to indirectly address these problems in a sustainable manner by encouraging the Ministry of Justice and the Palestinian Bar Association to implement more effective quality control mechanisms for criminal legal aid providers, such as eligibility standards, training requirements and oversight.

By engaging both with lawmakers and lawyers and universities on the ground, ILF-West Bank aims to create a model for institution building, bringing together the expertise and innovations of civil society with government resources and initiative to create a sustainable and effective legal aid system.

The ILF would like to thank UNDEF for its generous support.

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