Legal Rights’ Protection Barometer
The Barometer research shows a scan of the system through the eyes of the population of their civil and administrative law-related issues.
Per country, the research identifies groups that are at risk of remaining legally unprotected. The main questions are: what solutions are available, what is the procedure, and can a lawyer help for an affordable price?
With other words: “How easily can I be legally protected, and enforce my belongings, claims, and rights?”
The overall aim is to promote universal access to legal rights’ protection by making the state of legal rights’ protection transparent and visible, which will dictate the needed action to pursue legal rights’ protection of all.
Microjustice has developed the Legal Rights’ Protection Barometer research methodology, with a modern online database with standard questions related to the 3 indicator groups, generating an objective technical outcome. The database is filled out by legal experts in the country and is subsequently analyzed by international Microjustice experts.
We look into the capacity of ‘people’ to arrange their legal rights’ protection, which depends on their financial capacity (income) and capacity to access information (education level and effective internet access), while we also assess the various legal needs of specific vulnerable groups, such as populations displaced by humanitarian disaster.
Subsequently, the Barometer provides an overview from the perspective of these people of the affordability, accessibility, and effectiveness of:
- The ‘state organization’: the procedures and institutions needed to achieve legal rights’ protection, such as civil registry, property registry, business registry, divorce procedure, inheritance procedure; what are the steps, costs, accessibility? What effective enforcement procedures are available? and
- The legal assistance services by legal professionals: how can I find a lawyer, what is the price, quality?
With these three groups of indicators related to 1) capacity of People 2) effectiveness of procedures of the State 3) affordability of legal assistance, we can identify which groups are legally unprotected and what is needed to protect them.
Through our 25 years of field experience in legal service provision in many countries globally, we have recognized a similar pattern in any country: there is an organized system of free legal aid (which usually does not work well or does not work at all), limited only to small groups of the most vulnerable people and a narrow number of specific cases, from which a large number of citizens is left out.
Those citizens are not only vulnerable people such as refugees but in most countries make up the majority of people who ‘makes end meet’ and have only enough income for the average monthly consumer basket. Due to a lack of resources, these people cannot afford a lawyer and fail to arrange their legal rights’ protection. Thus, we do not only talk about vulnerable groups such as displaced populations and refugees who remain legally unprotected but also in many countries, a large percentage of the population, that has just enough income to make it until the end of the month.
In 2017, having worked for 20 years in many conflict zones and development countries on legal service provision, we saw the same structure of the justice gap and the legal needs for war victims and poor people everywhere. We wanted to show the world what this is about as there is a complete lack of awareness on this topic. Therefore, we started the development of a scientific social research method to map the state of legal inclusion of people in a country, consisting of desk research and surveys. The field research was conducted in Bolivia, Kenya and Serbia resulting in ‘Legal Inclusion Mapping reports’ and Survey reports.
Our research experience in 2018/19 in these 3 countries showed that:
- The survey method is expensive and time-consuming in relation to the obtained results, that show the needs of people that any one working in the sector already knows beforehand. The more so as uneducated poor people do not have the awareness of their rights, and cannot point them out precisely. They in general tend to talk about conflicts they have and security issues/crime.
- The consultation with many stakeholders in the country gives very valuable information, to identify the key problems and is essential for setting up a legal aid program in a country. But the identification of the precise problems depends on the technical analysis of the legal system.
- That legal inclusion of a person means that the person is fully protected by the system of his/her country, enjoying all rights and social benefits as a citizen. The grade into which this happens depends on the capacity of the person to protect his/her legal rights. Thus, to show the justice gap we have to show the problems that people face in protecting their rights, which depends on a) their financial resources/income b) the way the state procedures and institutions are organized c) ability to access legal aid. To precisely point this out and identify from a technical legal perspective the precise problems, an extensive list of questions has been developed in 2020/21 in each of these areas. These lists of questions need to be filled out by legal experts of the country.
Thus, we stopped doing the survey research method, and developed in all detail the legal rights’ protection barometer database. This method contains a purely technical rights-based approach with large sets of questions on the use of the state system and legal aid from the perspective of the people. The report made on the basis of the database indicators also depends on the consultation process with the Stakeholders. This barometer database has been filled out in 2021/22 for Bolivia, Serbia, Egypt, Jordan and Ukraine.
The LIM reports are more descriptive field assessment reports on the country and its legal procedures and institutions, and the problematics in general. In the barometer research reports precise technical problems in these procedures are identified.
The Legal Inclusion Mapping reports provide an insight into the background, challenges and issues of the country and the legal issues of its people.