Amnesty International – 5 February 2013: “New route to justice for poorest being denied to millions”

I can’t help but wonder: how are the poorest supposed to “exhaust all domestic options”, in order to be able to access this new mechanism? With which financial, educational, social ressources? Cf for instance the UN report on poverty and access to justice http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Poverty/Pages/Accesstojustice.aspx , which states that ( I have used bold characters to stress particularly relevant parts):

“Some of the obstacles faced by persons living in poverty, such as the cost of legal advice, administrative fees and other collateral costs, relate directly to their lack of financial resources. Other obstacles, however including lack of access to information and lack of legal recognition are harder to identify and arise out of discrimination against the poorest and most marginalized. People living in poverty and social exclusion come into contact with criminal and administrative controls and sanctions more than any other group in society. In her report the Special Rapporteur refers to the many laws that are inherently biased against persons living in poverty, particularly those which do not recognize or prioritize the abuses they regularly suffer, or have a disproportionately harsh impact on them. When encountering the criminal justice system, people living in poverty are deprived of the means to challenge the conditions of their arrest, remand, trial, conviction, detention and release. In civil and administrative matters where legal aid is not available, persons living in poverty are often denied access to justice in matters involving property, welfare payments, social housing and evictions, and family matters such as child custody.

The limited ability of people living in poverty to access legal and adjudicatory processes and mechanisms is not only a violation of human rights in itself (ICCPR Art. 14), but is also the consequence of numerous other rights violations. The lack of remedies for the negative impacts of social policy in the areas of health, housing, education and social security, or for administrative decisions relating to welfare benefits or asylum proceedings, often results in inability to seek redress in cases of violations of key human rights, such as the right to equality and non-discrimination and the right to social security. The generally complex normative framework of most formal legal systems, designed by the highly educated and often invoking technical jargon, often fails to recognize and account for the experiences, capacities and limitations of those outside the mainstream. People living in poverty, who have been denied the equal opportunity to benefit from education services, are thus de facto excluded from having recourse to legal remedies because of violations of their rights to education (ICESCR Art. 13) and information (ICCPR Art. 19).”

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