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The chapter on the rights of victims of domestic violence in relation to state institutions will have four parts and will end in the first week of December.

Information on the rights of victims of domestic violence, specialist social services and what victims can do can also be obtained by calling the freephone number - 0800 500 333.

 

Central[1] and local[2] public authorities are obliged to take the necessary measures to prevent and deter domestic violence, including providing information and education programmes on how to prevent, avoid, recognise and report violence.

 

Central and local public authorities are obliged to inform victims of domestic violence about:

  • institutions and non-governmental organisations providing psychological counselling or any other form of assistance and protection to victims;
  • the prosecution body to which they can lodge a complaint;
  • the right to legal assistance and the institution to which they can turn to exercise this right;
  • the conditions and procedure for granting free legal aid;
  • the procedural rights of the injured person, the injured party and the civil party;
  • the conditions and procedure for the award of financial compensation by the State, in accordance with the law. (http://prorefugiu.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Financial-Compensation-Guide.pdf - page 6)

 

 

Last weeks, we addressed the following:

  • The scale of the phenomenon
  • Legislation in the field
  • What is domestic violence? How do we recognise it?
  • What obligations do the state authorities have towards the victim of domestic violence?
  • Protection orders: who applies for them, who issues them, who enforces them, what obligations do the police have?
  • Accommodation for victims of domestic violence in special places, where they are provided with protection and support for reintegration
  • Free legal advice - conditions

This week we will address:

  • The victim's right to free legal aid in situations where we cannot afford the costs of a trial
  • What public legal aid means and under what conditions it is granted
  • Where to apply and what it looks like

 

I.Domestic violence in Romania (this point is repeated in each of the four parts of the episode)

Just to give you an overview, here are the data below:

First 7 months of 2020, domestic violence: 4,856 provisional protection orders in 7 months. 96% of perpetrators are men.

The number of victims is 5,431, of which 450 are men and 4,606 are women. Minor victims are 170 boys and 105 girls.

 

Protection orders (POs) issued in other years: 2017 - 2,894 POs, 2018 - 3,775 POs, 2019 (7 months) - 4,166 POs.

Below is the situation of domestic violence in the period 2016-2019,[1][3]

But only the reported situations, the real extent of the phenomenon is larger:

, Ghid practic: Drepturile victimelor violenței domestice în raport cu instituțiile statului (partea III), FACIAS

II. THE RIGHT TO SPECIAL PROTECTION APPROPRIATE TO THE SITUATION AND NEEDS OF VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

 

Note: Points II.1-II.3 were covered last week.

II.4. THE RIGHT TO FREE LEGAL ADVICE AND ASSISTANCE

Law No 217 of 2003 provides that victims are entitled to free legal assistance only if they have referred the matter to the prosecuting authorities or the court within 60 days of the crime and if the monthly income per family member of the victim is at most equal to the minimum gross basic wage in the country established for the year in which the victim applied for free legal assistance.

II.4.1. WHAT IS PUBLIC LEGAL AID?

Public legal aid is assistance granted by the State and is a means of ensuring the right to a fair trial, guaranteeing equal access to justice, including for the enforcement of judgments or other enforceable titles.

Any natural person who is unable to meet the costs of a trial without jeopardising his or her own or his or her family's livelihood may apply for public legal aid in accordance with the provisions of Government Decree. No 51/2008[4] on public legal aid in civil matters[5].

 

II.4.2. WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR LEGAL AID?

More information on the application can be found in Government Decree No 51/2008[6] on legal aid in civil matters.

Any individual may apply for legal aid under the terms of this emergency ordinance if he/she is unable to meet the costs of a trial or the costs of obtaining legal advice in order to defend a legitimate right or interest in court without jeopardising his/her own or his/her family's livelihood.

 

The conditions required by the law are that the average net monthly income per family member in the two months preceding the application must have been below 300 lei, in which case the amounts required for the proceedings are borne entirely by the State.

If the average net monthly income per family member in the two months preceding the application is between 300 lei and 600 lei, the State will pay 50% of the costs of the proceedings.

 

Public legal aid may also be granted in other situations, in proportion to the applicant's needs, if the certain or estimated costs of the trial are such as to limit his or her effective access to justice.

The amount of legal aid granted, separately or cumulatively, in any one form may not exceed, over a period of one year, the maximum amount equivalent to 10 gross national minimum wages for the year in which the application for aid was made.

In determining the income, account shall be taken of any regular income such as wages, allowances, fees, rents, business or self-employment profits and the like, as well as amounts due on a regular basis, such as rents and maintenance obligations.

 

Who does the law consider to be a family member when calculating the amount of legal aid?

A person who is domiciled or resides in common and lives with the applicant, their children or other direct descendants up to the age of 18 who are dependent on the applicant, and children or other direct descendants over the age of 18, but not over the age of 26 if they are in the continuation of studies and dependent on the applicant.

.

II.4.3. WHY DOES THE STATE GRANT PUBLIC LEGAL AID TO VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?

Public legal aid can be granted in the form of:

  • Payment for a lawyer to provide legal assistance before the start of a trial or during a trial;
  • Payment for an expert, translator or interpreter;
  • Payment of bailiff's fees;
  • Exemptions, reductions, deferrals or postponements of the payment of stamp duty during a trial or at the enforcement stage.

What can victims of domestic violence do?

  • They can request the appointment of a public defender or a lawyer of their choice to assist/represent them in the proceedings for the issuing of the protection order under Article 6 point e) in conjunction with Article 27(2)(e). 3 of Law 217/2003[7]on preventing and combating domestic violence.
  • If they have a lawyer with whom they wish to go further, but are financially unable to pay the fee, they may apply for public legal aid through a lawyer of their choice pursuant to Art. 6 e), Art. 27 3) and Art. 27 3) of the Law No. 217/2003 3 of Law 217/2003, republished in conjunction with Art. 6 lit. a) of GEO 51/2008 on public legal aid in civil matters (this applies if the chosen lawyer agrees with the fee that the State will set in the case).
  • People facing particular situations associated with domestic violence may apply for public legal aid, including in divorce, custody, domicile, child visitation, partition, eviction and other cases.

 

II.4.3. HOW TO APPLY FOR LEGAL AID AND WHAT DOES THE APPLICATION CONTAIN?

The victim of domestic violence must apply to the court in whose territorial district he or she is domiciled or resident:

  • a written application to which he or she will attach documents showing his or her income and maintenance or other expenses,
  • a sworn, non-authenticated declaration stating whether he/she has received any other legal aid in the last 12 months, in what form, for what reason and the amount of such aid.
  • an application for exemption, reduction or deferment of the payment of legal fees due at the enforcement stage.

Legal aid shall be granted at any time during the proceedings, from the date on which the person concerned submits the application, and shall be maintained throughout the procedural stage in which it is applied for.

The application for legal aid is exempt from stamp duty.

For the appointment of a public defender, the application shall be addressed either to the court or to the local bar association.

What must the application for legal aid contain?

THE EASY-TO-USE APPLICATION FORM FOR LEGAL AID CAN BE DOWNLOADED FROM THE ANES (NATIONAL AGENCY FOR EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN AND MEN) WEBSITE HERE:  https://anes.gov.ro/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Anexa-2-Formular-cerere-privind-acordarea-ajutorului-public-judiciar.pdf

The application for the granting of public legal aid shall be made in writing and shall include information on the subject and nature of the proceedings for which public legal aid is requested, the identity, personal number code, domicile and material status of the applicant and his/her family, attaching documentary evidence of his/her and his/her family's income, as well as proof of maintenance or payment obligations. The application shall also be accompanied by an sworn statement by the applicant to the effect that he/she has received public legal aid in the last 12 months, in what form, for what reason and the amount of such aid.

 

Next week, we will continue this episode dedicated to victims of domestic violence, unfortunately too many in Romania, with a summary and some other useful information, so that victims of domestic violence know what rights they have, where to ask for them and what state institutions have obligations towards them.

[1] Government, ministries, other specialised central bodies subordinate to the Government or ministries

[2] Town halls, local councils, county councils, police

[3] STRATEGY MONITORING REPORT -Domestic Violence - 2019, available at https://anes.gov.ro/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Document.pdf .

Unfortunately, at the European level, regarding victims of violence - women https://eige.europa.eu/gender-statistics/dgs/indicator/genvio_phy_hom_adm__crâm_hom_soff__homsex_victperp  ) , Romania has not provided data and is not included in European statistics on this chapter.

 

[4] Emergency Ordinance No 51 of 2008 on public legal aid in civil matters is available free of charge here: http://legislatie.just.ro/Public/DetaliiDocument/91863

[5] Art 1 of Emergency Ordinance No 51 of 2008

[6] Emergency Ordinance No 51 of 2008 on public legal aid in civil matters is available free of charge here: http://legislatie.just.ro/Public/DetaliiDocument/91863

[7] Law 217/2003 on preventing and combating violence in

Family is available, free of charge, here: http://legislatie.just.ro/Public/DetaliiDocument/44014

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