Providing free legal assistance for southern Iraq’s most vulnerable

Basrah, Iraq, 20 August 2013 – Vulnerable groups in southern Iraq will soon be able to access free legal services directly from the Basrah Justice Palace.

“By establishing a legal help desk directly inside the Basrah Justice Palace, we are minimising the time and money spent by vulnerable groups to seek legal assistance,” said Rini Reza, chief of the UN Development Programme’s democratic governance unit in Iraq. “People who are poor, survivors of gender-based violence, persons living with disabilities, the elderly, detainees, and the internally displaced are often burdened when they seek legal assistance. By placing the desk in the heart of the courthouse, we are making such assistance an integral part of the court system.”

Despite progress in recent years, many Iraqis continue to face challenges in accessing their country’s justice system. Vulnerable groups are often disproportionately affected as they struggle to access legal assistance.

The legal help desk is operated as a part of a broader project for the provision of legal assistance services in Basrah. Judge Jasim Mohamed Al-Musawi, spokesperson at the Federal Appeals Court in Basrah said, “the legal help desk provides consultations to people in need, and supports legal awareness raising campaigns for lasting solutions,” adding that “some cases will even be provided with free legal representation.”

The project will enhance access to justice and promote accessibility of the courts among vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, while putting the needs of the most vulnerable at the heart of the court system.

UNDP has partnered with the Iraqi High Judicial Council, the Federal Appeals Court in Basrah, and Bustan Association to inaugurate the legal help desk office within the Basrah Justice Palace.

For media enquiries, please contact: UNDP Iraq Communications Unit,, +962 79 798 1370.

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The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in 177 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations.

UNDP has been present in Iraq since 1976. Since 2003, it has worked to support the Government and people of Iraq in their transition towards reconciliation, peace and stability. UNDP has been supporting emergency physical rehabilitation projects in addition to improving the quality of basic service delivery, including health, water and electricity.