Addressing shortcomings in the provision of Legal Aid in Criminal Proceedings in North Macedonia was in the focus of the research paper prepared in the framework of the EU and Council of Europe joint programme Horizontal Facility II.
The paper (ENGLISH & MACEDONIAN) provides the basic concepts, expert guidance and an assessment on Legal Aid in Criminal Proceedings in North Macedonia, recommending subsequent activities to enhance the access to justice in criminal proceedings.
It was prepared on the basis of the data collected from three-days assessment with remote interviews with relevant interlocutors, conducted by the authors (Council of Europe consultants), Mr. Victor Zaharia and Ms. Bojana Netkova.
The document outlines the current state of affairs in North Macedonia (mechanism in place, main actors involved, roles, interaction, effectiveness), the existing shortcomings and challenges and the possible solutions and approaches for improving coordination and effectiveness of legal aid provision in criminal proceedings with reference to international practices and experiences.
This assessment covers legal aid in criminal proceedings (investigation, court hearings and appeal stages), with reference to categories of persons entitled to legal aid (mandatory defense, indigent persons, victims of crimes), the mechanism of appointment of a lawyer, service providers and quality assurance mechanism, management and funding of the system. It includes analysis of the relevant legislation, draft laws, good trends, shortcoming and challenges, formulating the recommendations based on the Council of Europe standards and best practices in the field and identifying potential strategies for mitigation.
The paper is publicly available (ENGLISH & MACEDONIAN) and disseminated with the key stakeholders and local beneficiaries. It will serve as a basis for the next steps - a round table for sharing of best practices and establishment of working groups to start addressing the shortcomings on legal aid provision in criminal proceedings identified in the paper.
This expert assessment was produced within the Action on “Supporting enhanced access to higher quality Free Legal Aid services in North Macedonia”, which is part of the “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey II”, a joint EU/Council of Europe programme implemented by the Council of Europe.