Fifth local network meeting in Croatia
The fifth meeting was held on 13th December 2019 at the Faculty of Law in Split in cooperation with the Ombudsman’s Office within the round table “Economic status as a barrier to access to justice – the problems of free legal aid”. The main focus of the meeting was entirely on the system of free legal aid and its problems in practice. Concluding considerations are such that there is a relatively good legal framework, however, the system of free legal aid is ineffective for several reasons. One of the systemic problems facing legal aid is certainly the lack of financial resources the legal aid providers have on their disposal, especially because of the trend of reducing financial resources over the years. Inadequate financial resources also result in uneven territorial coverage, which directly discriminates those citizens in rural and isolated areas. As an additional problem, it was highlighted insufficient inter-sector co-operation. In this regard, it was emphasized that for stronger cross-sectoral co-operation would contribute maintaining of such meetings and round tables in order of exchanging experiences and discussing the problematic points of the system. In addition, the round table also focused on civil organizations who provide free legal aid to specific social groups – victims of gender-based violence, homeless people, victims of hate crime and other vulnerable social groups. It was emphasized that the role of CSOs as a form of non-institutionalized form of victim assistance is very important.