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A program of free secondary legal assistance on criminal matters, which was started in Ukraine in early 2013, has proved its efficiency and social significance, and has become one of the key indicators of democracy in Ukraine's legal system, society and the state, the Information-Analytical Bulletin of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine informs.
Experts at the Ministry of Justice say that as of Dec. 1, 2013 centers of free secondary legal assistance that are working around the clock in all regions of Ukraine, issued 71,000 retainers to lawyers.
Of those, 21,051 retainers are meant for free secondary legal advice to persons detained on suspicion of committing a crime; 38,435 retainers – for specific legal protection; 9,475 retainers – for rendering free secondary legal assistance to persons subject to administrative detention; and 2,039 retainers – for participation in individual proceedings.
On Dec. 2, 2013, a portion of waivers of state counsel by persons detained on suspicion of committing a crime was 3.6%, which is down 5% from half-year figures, thus indicating the improving quality of legal services. According to experts, it became possible after signing a Memorandum of cooperation in the field of free legal advice between National Association of Advocates of Ukraine and Ministry of Justice of Ukraine.
Without this agreement, it was impossible to prescribe an efficient mechanism of legal assistance to vulnerable categories of citizens, note the experts. As responsibility for that lies with the government and only lawyers have the right to provide free secondary legal assistance. Also, the government has no way to make them do it. It can only offer the lawyers some attractive terms. As a result of ongoing professional dialogue between Ministry of Justice and National Association of Advocates of Ukraine, such mutually beneficial terms were found and documented in regulations.