LAW AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE PROGRAM
The goal of the OSIAF-Armenia Law and Criminal Justice Program is to promote the rule of law in Armenia, to raise awareness of the public of current legal reforms, to ensure accessibility of legal aid for vulnerable strata of the society and to improve conditions in closed institutions.
2006 marked a major development influencing the political and economic climate in the country. Armenia signed the European Neighborhood Policy Action Plan (ENP). The Law and Criminal Justice program aimed at facilitating the development and implementation of activities outlined in ENP Action Plan and supporting harmonization of legal practices with the European and international standards on human rights protection, and assisting anti-corruption and monitoring projects in different fields. In close cooperation with the Partnership for Open Society Initiative and other partners, the Law and Criminal Justice Program engaged in the process of developing an implementation plan for Access to Justice and Judiciary Reform components of the ENP Action Plan.
Since access to justice is crucial for human rights and fundamental freedoms, OSIAF-Armenia continued its support for free legal aid, including free court representation, for vulnerable groups of the society. In 2006, the Access to Justice Program, with support from the Netherlands Government, covered six regions in Armenia. This support made it possible to learn about the experiences of developed countries and their legislation, as well as and best practices on the provision of free legal aid. Within the Program, the Law on Free legal Aid was drafted and presented to lawyers, NGOs, law makers and state institutions.
In 2006, the Foundation’s Law and Criminal Justice program supported the Chamber of Advocates of Armenia, established in March 2005, to develop the Chamber’s five-year strategic plan.
2006 marked the beginning of pre-election activities. To promote transparency and fairness before and during the elections, the Law and Criminal Justice Program in cooperation with the Human Rights and Good Governance Program of OSI Budapest supported a monitoring project of financial resources of the political parties during Parliamentarian Elections.
Taking into consideration the MCA’s role and influence on democratic and economic reforms in Armenia and the importance of transparency of the project implementation and awareness of the population of its implementation, the Law and Criminal Justice Program, in cooperation with Human Rights and Good Governance Program of OSI Budapest, as an anti-corruption activity, supported monitoring of public procurement, as well as finance flows, and correspondence of goals and actual results of the MCA Armenia program.
In 2006 in cooperation and with the OSCE Office in Yerevan co-funding, the Foundation supported the second year of activities of the Public Monitoring Board. The second monitoring report on penitentiary system was developed and publicly discussed. The main focus of the report was on human rights protection in criminal executive institutions.
The Foundation’s effort to support Rule of Law in the country and to develop the advocacy capacity of the NGOs was acknowledged and further supported by the government of the Netherlands through a three-year grant to the Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation - Armenia to develop the capacity of human rights NGOs. Within this initiative six independent organizations were selected for three-year grants each to increase human rights protection activities in closed institutions, to protect free speech and independent media and to protect the rights of vulnerable and marginalized groups.
During 2006, the initiatives of OSIAF-Armenia Law and Criminal Justice Program enjoyed the financial assistance of the OSCE Yerevan Office – 5,400USD, the Human Rights and Good Governance Program of the OSI – 43,000USD.