Righting an imperfect system

legal aid in criminal cases

Placing people’s needs at the top of the policy agenda

The engagement and participation of government and public institutions is paramount to the accomplishment of long-term sustainable change. For this reason, JCLA has built strong partnerships with several stakeholders to achieve the establishment of a legal system that is effective, inclusive and accountable towards vulnerable groups.

JCLA’s ultimate goal is the establishment of a comprehensive institutionalized legal aid system. For this reason, it engages in several steps paving the way to reach this achievement. In collaboration with the Ministry of Justice, JCLA builds the capacity of court liaison officers responsible for determining the eligibility legal aid beneficiaries whose lawyer is to be appointed by the court.

Further, JCLA works closely with the Public Security Department, training its officers on pretrial detention, prevention of torture and ill-treatment, best practices and fair trial standards. This collaboration enabled JCLA lawyers to enter police stations when called through the detention hotline, overcoming initial resistance. Now, not only do lawyers freely access police stations, but police officers at times reach out to JCLA themselves to refer cases. As part of its engagement with the PSD, JCLA also collaborates with the Juvenile Police, to enhance child protection in criminal cases.

In terms of legislative advocacy, in 2018 JCLA played a key role in the withdrawal and amendment of the Cybercrime Law, which expanded the criminalization extent and related penalties. On this occasion, JCLA developed a position paper on the draft law and participated in the “Free_Net” campaign. JCLA continues to advocate for enhanced legislation and practices, for instance regarding the criminalization of insolvency issues. Jordan, in fact, still allows debt imprisonment, with penalties up to 90 days for each debt, even when minor. Through its papers and recommendations, JCLA advocates for an approach that protects both creditors and debtors, proposing government-enacted solutions that will contribute to decrease the imprisonment of debtors.

Adopting an inclusive, participatory and grassroot approach, JCLA works to enhance criminal justice at the national level, in the effort to achieve a system that ensures fair trial and legal aid to all.