USAID Justice Activity in partnership with the Innovation Centre Kosovo (ICK) are hosting a hackathon to tackle the issue of Justice Innovation Competition- JusTECH.
The purpose of the Justice Activity in Kosovo is a more responsive justice system capable of providing people access to quality services and multiple means to solve their justice needs and every day legal problems to generate greater public trust in the justice system and the rule of law.
The Activity is organized by three integrated objectives:
1) Quality and Accessibility of Justice Services Improved
2) Citizen Understanding, Engagement, and Trust of the Justice System Improved, and
3) Effective Innovations in the Justice Sector Developed.
Innovation Centre Kosovo (ICK) is the leading local integrator of innovative businesses and entrepreneurship, aiding the visibility of Kosovo as the future business destination. The mission of ICK is to create new jobs and business prosperity in Kosovo through the use of ICT & innovation by supporting entrepreneurs, startups and existing businesses. As such, the role of ICK is to support entrepreneurship, innovation and commercially based business development, with a focus on information and communication technology.
JusTech is a three-day “hackathon” that brings together legal professionals, computer programmers, students, computer scientists, software developers, members of the public, and professionals of various disciplines to code and create technology applications that will improve access to justice. 3,000 Euro prize per winner of each category are available.
In an effort to reduce this gap, we invite participants with various backgrounds, skill sets, and creative abilities to form multidisciplinary teams and invent unique digital products to hack Justice challenges pertaining to 3 thematic areas (to be decided with relevant stakeholders):
This signature event challenges participants to place humanity at the forefront of design thinking and innovation. It aims to fuse the power of technological innovation with the generative capacities of justice activists, human rights defenders and other stakeholders, in building ICT solutions as part of diverse teams, to support justice activities in Kosovo.
Under expert mentoring, the competitors of different backgrounds will have 54 hours to design innovative products that will elevate the work for human rights protection and advocacy.
Challenge 1: How might we design a product that makes it easier for citizens to locate legal aid service providers and resources to address concerns
Free legal aid services for the citizens are available through various channels, such as, Free Legal Aid Agency (FLAA) and non-governmental organizations.
According to the USAID Justice Matters Activity’s Mapping of Community Justice Needs, 91 percent of people surveyed had experienced one or more legal problems/challenges, and 32 percent of those people did not take any actions to solve them. However, 48 percent of survey respondents ranked their problems (administrative claims – social welfare benefits, domestic violence, theft, and labor and property disputes) as severe. People with low income (66 percent) are more severely affected by their legal problems than all other categories of people surveyed.
The main barrier for people not seeking solutions to their problems is the lack of knowledge about their rights to legal aid and the existence of FLAA and civil society organizations (CSOs) as service providers.
The most frequently needed types of legal assistance are legal advice, legal information, assistance to draft complaints, and legal representation. Most people prefer to go to lawyers or justice institutions (including courts and FLAA) for help, with family, friends, and the internet also cited. People in the LGBTI community, women, and the Roma community also expressed high preferences for receiving legal assistance and information from CSOs.
Free legal aid is available throughout the Republic of Kosovo in civil, criminal, administrative and minor offence procedures. The following services are provided:
1. Information and legal advice regarding legal procedures;
2. Preparation of letters and all technical assistance related to the completion of the case; and
3. Representation in civil, administrative, minor offences, and criminal procedures.
Eligibility criteria to receive free legal aid:
1. Citizens of the Republic of Kosovo who have permanent residence in the territory of the Republic of Kosovo.
2. All persons, including foreign citizens, with temporary residence in the Republic of Kosovo.
3. Other persons determined by the Law or the rules of International Law, which are binding to the Republic of Kosovo.
4. To persons who receive free assistance based on reciprocity.
5. Primary legal aid shall be provided to all persons that acquire the right from social aid or are in similar situation with persons acquiring the right from social aid.
6. Secondary legal aid shall be provided to all persons whose gross family incomes are lower than the average family incomes.
Other variables include:
1. Real value of the request;
2. Argumentative power of the evidence presented by the applicant;
3. Probability for the success of the request; and
4. In an urgent case, immediate free legal aid shall be provided to all persons detained by police, regardless the criteria required by this law
FLAA was established in 2012, and it operates seven regional offices in Prishtinë/Pristina, Prizren/Prizren, Pejë/Peć, Mitrovicë/Mitrovica, Gjilan/Gnjilane, and Ferizaj/Uroševac. Also, FLAA has opened temporary mobile offices in following municipalities: Dragash/Dragaš, Suharekë/Suva Reka, Istog/Istok, Deçan/Dečane, Fushë Kosovë/Kosovo Polje, Drenas/Glogovac, Mitrovica North, Zveçan/Zvečan, Zubin Potok/Zubin Potok and Leposaviq/Leposavić. . Recently in May 2021, mobile offices have been extended in six additional municipalities: Podujevë/Podujevo, Klinë/Klina, Kaçanik/Kačanik, Hani i Elezit/Elez Han, Lipjan/Lipljane and Shtime/Štimlje with donor-funded support. There is also a donor-funded Mobile Clinic (Minivan), which operates for two months at a time in each of the following municipalities: Obiliq/Obilić, Vushtrri/Vučitrn, Junik/Junik, Rahovec/Orahovac, Viti/Vitina and Kllokot/Klokot. The Mobile Clinic will continue for one year (through July/August 2022). There are also several CSOs that also provide free legal aid services once they enters in partnership with FLAA upon signing a Memorandum of Agreement.
Your challenge is to identify an efficient and cost-effective means of consolidating data on free legal aid and associated service providers that may need to be involved in addressing the pressing citizen concerns above. The goal is to develop a resource tool that list all legal aid service providers, detailing the specific services they provide, their locations and contact information. You should take into consideration that potential users of free legal aid are living in remote areas and are most likely not effectively using information technology. Please keep the product simple and easy to navigate by the user. Also, keep in mind that the information should be available in all official languages. As legal aid is a dynamic field and potential demand is projected to be far greater than services supply, you should anticipate service provider growth and the resource tool should be flexible to accommodate this.
When developing the product, you should also consider the following:
1. Not all the potential users of free legal aid are native Albanian or Serbian speakers, so you can also consider providing information on other local languages as well. Also, the product which can serve people with special needs (with hearing impairments and blind people) - Visual and audio product with tutorial
2. Allow for the product to collect information about the number of people who have accessed it, their gender, age, nationality, and place of residence, and to draw statistics from these data on quarterly and yearly basis.
Challenge 2: How might we help an average citizen to proactively address basic legal needs (understand legal terminology, sample documents like leases) on their own.
Legal terminology and documents are difficult for people without a legal background or education to understand and interpret; thus, many people do not take actions on their own or advocate for their own interests even in matters that are common.
According to UNDP’s Public Pulse polling from 2020, only 24.8% of Kosovo’s people are satisfied with the courts. Among those who do not seek help for their legal problem, 75% believe doing so either will not make a difference or result in a fair outcome. They cite their lack of confidence in the justice system as playing a larger factor in their decision not to pursue legal recourse than even financial constraints. Women have marginally lower levels of trust in lawyers than other categories of people surveyed and less confidence in their ability to obtain meaningful remedies through the justice system.
Legalese and legal documents can be intimidating for the average citizen. However, if a person has the right tools to understand the basic legal terminology of the most common issues that average citizen encounters (e.g., employment, consumer rights, loans, etc.) can empower them to take informed actions (avoiding later consequences) or proactively address basic legal needs. Additionally, documents such as leases, authorizations, and simple contracts usually have a similar format where only the personal information can be entered, and the document can be used as legally binding if notarized. This will save time and expenses for an average citizen.
Your task is to develop a product that will serve as a self-help resource for users, allowing them to easily search legal concepts and terminology and receive concise definitions or explanations that are easily understood. Also, this product should allow the user to find sample documents/templates such as leases, authorizations, agreements, and other similar documents.
While developing the product, you should also take into consideration the official languages in Kosovo and develop a product that will allow the user to choose which language they need.
Challenge 3: How might we improve data exchange between FLAA and relevant government systems to increase efficiency and save the user’s time.
FLAA needs to communicate on daily basis with different institutions, such as the police, civil register, office of the state prosecutor, shelters, centers for social work, municipal department for social welfare, Ombudsman, and CSOs that are providing free legal aid. The lack of effective data exchange between these stakeholders often presents a challenge to conduct the work in a timely manner. FLAA has a central repository database for free legal aid cases handled by FLAA, but this database does not capture free legal aid cases handled by CSO providers. Moreover, there have been many cases where one person has approached different institutions/organizations with the same legal issues which then results in having two or more organizations dealing with the same case.
In order to make their work more effective and efficient, we need to assist them to improve the data exchange amongst each other. More effective data exchange will help them work on the cases faster and avoid duplication of work, which will lead to an increased trust of the citizens in the justice system.
Your task is to develop a product that will allow the FLAA and the above-listed stakeholders (at minimum, so additional relevant entities are permitted if it furthers the objective) to enter and exchange information amongst themselves quickly and efficiently. The product should allow all the stakeholders to enter information about the user (citizen) that is relevant to the case and to enable other stakeholders to access this information by typing specific information such as personal number, ID number, or by a unique QR code which will help protect the privacy of the justice seeker (the citizen). Each of the relevant stakeholders has specific data that they take about the case, so the product should allow that, while protecting the privacy of the user.
The product should enable any of the stakeholders to enter the following data:
• Personal number,
• Coding that will differentiate the case,
• Type of the case,
• Status of the case,
• Type of service provided by free legal aid: advice, referral, paperwork, lawyers engagement
• Allow for the uploading of certain documents if needed
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