A delegation from Iraq benefit from Egyptian experience in Support to Legal Aid and Dispute Settlement in Family Courts
A delegation from Family Reconciliation Centers in Kurdistan Region in the Republic of Iraq came to visit Egypt for a study tour in order to profit the Egyptian experience that was successful. Those centers that exist in 6 cities and towns (Erbil, Sulaimania, Duhok, Garmyan, Raparin and Soran) are operating as a part of Directorate of Combating Violence Against Women (DCVAW).
The goal of these centers is to provide the needed services to survivors of Gender Based Violence (GBV) to achieve justice through guiding them through the laws and procedures. Also, they provide consultation to those who do not want to register a complain but need legal, social and psychosocial guidance to resolve their problems.
The delegation is composed from the heads of the six Family Reconciliation Committees who are seeking to learn how the reconciliation services are provided to the domestic violence cases in Egypt so that they can add to their knowledge and experience to Family Reconciliation Centers in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
In 2008, UNDP Egypt in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) have started to introduce the Legal Aid Offices (LAOs) in Family Courts as well as strengthen the mediation function of Dispute Settlement Offices (DSOs) with support from Sweden’s International Development Agency from 2014.
The goal of establishing Legal Aid Offices is to provide free legal advice for all family cases; provide free legal assistance for family cases which do not require the lawyers’ signature such as (visitation rights, custody, alimony, inheritance); raise legal awareness among citizens with regards to Family Courts; provide information on the documents required for litigation processes and help litigants complete the necessary judicial procedures; support the submission of settlement requests; and women’s access to their alimony in the shortest time possible.
The legal aid offices in Egypt supported more than 1 million cases, out of which 68% were women cases between 2009 and 2018, and employees from Legal Aid Offices and employees from Dispute Settlement Offices attended more than 30 trainings in order to know how to deal with litigants. Also, 240 judges from family courts participated in seven roundtable discussions to enhance the efficiency of handling cases.
The Iraqi delegation came to visit the family courts located in Cairo and Alexandria and observed legal aid offices, dispute settlement offices and family prosecution office in order to profit from the Egyptian experience that was successful. They want to learn how to reconcile amongst family members when there is a dispute, so they came to learn from the Egyptian experience in order to implement the good practices in their center when they are back to Iraq.
Also, they had the opportunity to visit at the Women Complain Office of the National Council for Women and a shelter for women managed by the Ministry of Social Solidarity during their visit in Egypt to know about Egypt’s efforts on social services and protection to victims of gender-based violence.
They wanted to learn how Egyptians were able to handle family disputes, investigation for family disputes and violence against women. Also, they wanted to see how the family courts are functioning and the legal aid systems to help people in Egypt to get support.
Ezzulddin Abdullah Yaseen, Legal Consultant Supervisor of the Family Reconciliation Centers in KR-I said “I found the study tour to Egypt extremely useful and informative. I especially admired the new data base system used by the Egyptian Family Courts that enables the justice system and the case owners to have access to all the relevant documents to any case from any Justice facility anywhere in the country. I think this would be a great project to be implemented in Kurdistan to reduce paper work and accelerate procedures as they are known to take months.”
This is a good example for sharing experience between countries in the Arab region leveraging knowledge and advocating for change through connecting countries. Moreover, it is helping us to achieve better results and realize the #NextGenUNDP vision.