Vulnerable Persons Access to Legal Aid Funds (BF0003)
Action Plan: Burkina Faso Action Plan 2017-2019
Action Plan Cycle: 2017
Lead Institution: Ministry of Justice, Human rights and Civic Promotion (MJDHPC)
Support Institution(s): MINEFID, OCS, MBDHP, PTF
Policy AreasAccess to Justice, Dispute Resolution & Legal Assistance, Justice, Marginalized Communities, Public Service Delivery, Sustainable Development Goals
What is the public issue for which the commitment is made to address?: There is a problem of access to justice, essentially due to ignorance, poverty, social and cultural impediments and the lack of budgetary resources in this ministry; What is the commitment? Issue: provide assistance to a maximum of the destitute to get access to justice Overall objective: contribute to a better access of the destitute to justice Expected results: • The funds amounting to CFAF 100 000 000 turns up to CFAF 200 000 000 • The number of persons receiving aid yearly goes from 97 to 200; How will this commitment contribute towards addressing the public issue ?: The aid funds will enable to: • Develop systems to reduce at a minimum the number of persons « excluded » from the judicial system • Be more efficient because of an increased annual budget • Provide assistance to more destitute; Why is this commitment relevant in terms OGP values: This commitment enables to make court information available to citizens in order to help them exercise their rights. It is therefore the challenge of transparency to be taken up by OGP.; Additional information: • Budget of commitment: CFAF 200 000 000 • In line with PNDES, Item1, Strategic Objective 1.1, Expected outcomes (EA) 1.1.1 • In line with the National policy on justice (PNJ) 2010-2019, Programme 2, Action 2.6., • In line with the National Pact on justice revival, Chapter 4, Section 2. • In line with the sustainable development goals (SDG 16)
IRM Midterm Status Summary
3. Improve the access of vulnerable people to “Fonds d’assistance judiciaire” [legal aid fund]
Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan:
“Improve the access of vulnerable people to “Fonds d’assistance judiciaire” [legal aid fund]”
Issue: provide assistance to a maximum of the destitute to get access to justice
Overall objective: contribute to a better access of the destitute to justice
- The funds amounting to CFAF 100 000 000 turns up to CFAF 200 000 000
- The number of persons receiving aid yearly goes from 97 to 200
To advocate for the increase of the funding envelope
Reconsider texts relating to judicial assistance
Raise awareness on the existence of the fund
Increase the allocation of funds from 100,000,000 CFAF to 200,000,000 CFAF
Start Date: October 2018 End Date: June 2019
Action Plan is available here
Context and Objectives
This commitment seeks to give citizens greater access to the Legal Aid Fund. The current barriers that prevent vulnerable populations from benefitting from this fund may be summarized as follows:
- Cultural: a) there is no culture of resorting to legal means and judicial institutions, sometimes due to fear; b) there is a lack of awareness about the Legal Aid Fund; and c) the government gives low support to legal aid funding vis-à-vis other funds. 
- Administrative and logistic: a) there are difficulties in getting a certificate of indigence and other requirements for qualifying for legal support; b) there is often great geographic distance between citizens and the Commission for Legal Aid. 
- Budgetary and strategic planning: a) there is limited funding for the Legal Aid Fund; b) the disbursement process is lengthy, partially due to the Fund’s status as a Public Institute; c) budget allocations do not reflect the required needs; d) the cost of judicial procedures remains very high; 65.6% of citizens believe the cost of justice is high compared to 8.9% who believe the cost is low.  The action plan acknowledges that poverty, ignorance, and the Ministry of Justice’s insufficient budget aggravates the problem. 
There is information to establish a baseline for evaluating this commitment. The average cost of a legal procedure is CFA F 910,000.  The total number of beneficiaries at the end of 2018 rose to 605.  The initial number of beneficiaries per year is 97 and the initial budget is CFA F 100,000,000. 
This commitment seeks to improve access to justice for vulnerable populations by increasing the number of beneficiaries from 97 to 200 on a yearly basis, and the amount of available funds from CFA F 100,000,000 to CFA F 200,000,000. Additionally, the commitment seeks to review texts relating to judicial assistance. A government source noted that the revision of legal assistance texts aims to empower female victims of violence, handicapped individuals with no income, and others.  By raising awareness among citizens on the existence of a Legal Aid Fund, calling for increased funding, and revising current legal texts on legal assistance, this commitment seeks to achieve the ultimate goal of helping vulnerable individuals access legal tools encourage a culture of exercising the right to justice.
While the commitment seeks to improve access for vulnerable citizens to justice by readjusting the current legislation governing legal assistance and by enabling citizens to apply for financial legal aid, This commitment is not relevant to the OGP value of public accountability To achieve its objective and expected results, this commitment seeks to implement the following activities: a) submit a plea for a budget increase; b) reconsider texts relating to judicial assistance; c) raise awareness on the existence of the fund; and d) increase the allocation of funds from 100,000,000 CFAF to 200,000,000 CFAF.
While the principal objective of increasing funding (and reach) of the program is verifiable, activities number two and three lack sufficient clarity and specificity to be objectively verified. Activity number two calls for reconsidering legal texts pertaining to legal aid assistance. This goal does not provide a specific definition of what “reconsidering” means or what the outcome of “reconsidering” legal texts will be. The action plan does not explicitly state the specific items or adjustments. It is not clear if this activity intends to propose amendments to current legislation or submit new draft bills. Since there is no clarity as to what areas the reconsideration of legal texts refers to, the scope of the commitment may be limited.
Activity number three calls for raising awareness on the existence of the Legal Aid Fund. It is not clear how the Ministry of Justice will monitor or measure progress on “raising awareness.” Additionally, the commitment does not address most of the current difficulties faced by individuals accessing justice.
If fully implemented, this commitment may not be able to achieve it intended objectives and expected results. Based on the status quo and the commitment’s objective and activities, the potential impact for this commitment is coded as minor.
Although the government foresees requesting an increased budget for legal aid assistance, there is no safeguard mechanism included in the action plan for guaranteeing financial sustainability, in the possible event of a lack of appropriate funding. According to a government source, 400 is the expected number of beneficiaries with a budget worth 200,000,000. 
On the other hand, the maximum number of expected beneficiaries given the average cost of a legal procedure (CFA F 910,000), would be 220,  which is a smaller number and therefore may affect government’s expectations.
This commitment should be continued in future action plans with the following suggestions:
- Make the activities more specific; i.e., indicate the exact characteristics of legislation that require adjustments, the target population, the number of laws to be modified or enacted, the number of campaigns, etc. This is particularly relevant for activities two and three.
- Do not include the expected outcome as an activity.
- Use socialization campaigns to address the fear of and lack of interest in submitting claims and respond to citizen skepticism toward public institutions.
- A significant binding constraint is the lack of budget resources. Set financial targets and objectives in accordance with realistic budget availability to ensure that activities will be carried out.
- Assess the number of individuals who need financial assistance to have a clear outlook of where to focus resources.
- A member of a CSO suggests leveraging input from populations and including it in policies and legal documents pertaining to legal aid assistance (e.g., revise the eligibility criteria for legal assistance). Regulation should address the criteria used to designate indigence, poverty, and vulnerability so that potential beneficiaries are not excluded.
- Use surveys and other monitoring tools to track beneficiaries’ understanding of the procedures and eligibility criteria for submitting applications for the Legal Aid Fund.
- Use technology and online tools to provide assistance for citizens whose reside far away from the Commissions of Legal Assistance.
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