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March 06, 2007

U.S. Ambassador Celebrates Fifth Year Anniversary of Moldova's Traveling Lawyer Program


 Since 2001, the Traveling Lawyers Program has provided legal services to approximately 15,000 people in villages throughout Moldova. In December, U.S. Ambassador to Moldova, Michael Kirby, helped celebrate the fifth anniversary of Moldova's Traveling Lawyer Program by presenting a special certificate of achievement to the program's first traveling lawyer and saluting other participating lawyers. Ambassador Kirby stressed the importance of the program, which helps ordinary people address important legal issues and fosters confidence in the rule of law among Moldova's citizens.

With monthly stipends and training from the Rule of Law Initiative, the Traveling Lawyer Program makes it possible for seven lawyers to travel to different villages one day each week. During their travels, they provide free consultations and court representation to rural Moldovans who cannot afford to consult a lawyer about problems involving employment, family law, land, government benefits and other issues. Notable successes include recovering wages for 12 people whose employer illegally failed to pay them for six months, and filing complaints in police abuse cases. The lawyers also give informal presentations at schools, factories and businesses and write newspaper articles to educate Moldovans about their legal rights.