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Establishing Special Courts

Lessons from Reformers

This case study is part of the OGP Justice Policy Series, Part I: Access to Justice.

Specialized courts can provide greater access to justice and transparency for individuals with legal problems. They might enable a court to specialize in a particular area of the law–like domestic violence–or set out alternative processes to more expeditiously and fairly resolve legal problems–like problem-solving courts. Some OGP countries have pursued commitments related to establishing specialized courts and notably these commitments were created with leaders from across the justice sector, including the judiciary, executive branch, and civil society.

For example, in 2017, Afghanistan proposed a commitment led by its Supreme Court to establish violence against women special courts in twelve provinces in collaboration with civil society. These courts will increase the number of existing violence against women special courts and take a gender- and victim-sensitive approach in these court proceedings. This includes employing female judges to preside over these courts and working with civil society organizations and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs to ensure that women accessing the court have the services they need. The Supreme Court also committed to hold trainings on these special courts to ensure that other parts of the justice system–and subsequently the public–are aware of these services. Importantly, the Supreme Court also pledged to support these courts through its budget and funding obtained from international donor agencies.

Bulgaria offers another example of such a commitment. In 2014, Bulgaria committed to develop a process to establish problem-solving courts, a court model developed in the United States that serves particular categories of issues or specific groups of people. In particular, Bulgaria committed to exploring such courts for two categories of individuals: children and people with disabilities.


Photo by: Graham Crouch / World Bank

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