Expanding Access to Justice (EAJ) Program
In 2019, Pact and ABA ROLI launched a five-year program entitled Expanding Access to Justice (EAJ) that supports lasting improvements in access to justice, and promotes effective mechanisms for individuals and communities to address grievances in Somalia and Somaliland.
Funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the EAJ program targets sustainable improvements to the quality and reach of justice services, while promoting a rights-based interpretation and application of laws and justice norms through State and customary justice institutions. The program continuously employs research and learning to deepen the understanding of justice mechanisms in Somalia and to contextualize perceptions of justice to refine and adapt the program for optimal impact. In partnership with legal aid organizations in Somalia and Somaliland, the EAJ program improves approaches to navigating state, religious, customary, and other justice mechanisms a to obtain rights-respecting outcomes for grievances. The EAJ program also fosters and supports critical collaboration among diverse justice actors and, in so doing, advances access to justice for women, minorities, marginalized and vulnerable groups.
The EAJ program’s three-pillar approach includes, first, improving- access to legal information through extensive on-site research, analysis, and policy interventions. Among other initiatives, the program supports Somali scholars and practitioners to increasingly inform and lead access to justice development efforts and promote sustainable, human rights aligned justice services that meet the needs and perceptions of “fairness” of all Somalis. EAJ continually draws upon this research and learning to, under the second pillar, enhance the quality and reach of existing Somali legal aid services through partnerships with local civil society, community, and justice sector actors. Under the third pillar, EAJ engages with partner legal aid organizations to increase their capacity and sustainability through technical and institutional support.