August 14, 2023

REPORT Free access to justice for vulnerable groups in a democratic judicial system

"Globally, it is estimated that almost four billion people live outside the protection of the law, mostly because of poverty or because they are marginalized by society.[1] In Romania, in 2020, 35.8% of the population lived at the poverty line and at risk of social exclusion, the highest proportion in the European Union, where the average is 21.9%.[2]

Both domestic legislation and numerous international treaties call access to justice a fundamental human right. In simple terms, access to justice refers to the right of any person to approach a court and receive remedies when his rights or interests have been violated. When justice is not efficient and the principles of the rule of law are not respected, ordinary citizens, especially the vulnerable, become easily exploited, and their access to services and areas of public life – health, education, work – is made difficult. So, access to justice is not only a right in itself, but also a lever to other fundamental rights. Vulnerable people – such as people with disabilities, women victims of violence, Roma, LGBTQ+ people, children, etc. - encounter numerous barriers in accessing justice, some general, such as: the very long duration of judicial procedures and lack of knowledge of rights and the justice system, but also barriers that are specific to their identity or personal characteristics, such as: discrimination and victimization secondary[3] in the relationship with state institutions and judicial bodies, attitudes of blaming the victims and discouraging them from filing a complaint, etc. […]

This study aims to address legal issues in the access to justice of vulnerable groups in Romania, having as research objectives the identification of legislative gaps in the field and the proposal of concrete measures, including legislative changes, to improve access to justice. The study is aimed at lawyers, magistrates and other legal professionals, as well as legislators and decision makers. The authors of the study are Att. Dan Chertes, Cluj Bar and Georgiana Iorgulescu, Executive Director of the Center for Legal Resources (CRJ), with contributions from Alexandra Columban, ACTEDO's Executive Director. This research is part of the project INTEGRIS: Integrated Support for Human Rights, coordinated by the Action Center for Equality and Human Rights (ACTEDO), in partnership with the Center for Legal Resources (CRJ), implemented with the financial support of Active Citizens Fund Romania, program funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through EEA Grants 2014-2021. […]

The report has the following structure:


  • Chapter 1 addresses access to justice in national and international law and provides definitions of vulnerable groups, both legally and from sociology and social psychology.
  • Chapter 2 analyzes the main barriers to access to justice in the civil domain, focusing in particular on public legal aid.
  • Chapter 3 focuses on physical and sexual violence, looking at the barriers to justice faced by children and adults, especially women, victims of domestic violence and victims of crime in general.
  • Chapter 4 addresses pro bono advocacy: gaps in its regulation in Romania and comparisons with models from other states, best practice models, as well as a proposal to regulate pro bono advocacy by amending Law 51/1995 for the organization and exercise of the legal profession.
  • The last chapter contains conclusions and recommendations for improving access to justice for vulnerable groups in the form of an action plan.

We hope that this study will be a useful tool for legal specialists and practitioners who are involved in disputes concerning people from vulnerable groups, but also for non-governmental organizations and other entities that provide legal aid. In particular, we want legislators to find useful the final chapter, which contains recommendations for legislative changes and related measures, to improve access to justice for vulnerable groups in Romania."

Alexandra Columban

Executive Director

Equality and Human Rights Action Centre (ACTEDO)

Download the REPORT (in English) here.


The activity is part of the project INTEGRIS: Integrated Support for Human Rights, developed by the Equality and Human Rights Action Centre (ACTEDO), in partnership with the Centre for Legal Resources (CLR), with financial support from Active Citizens Fund Romania, programme funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA Grants Grants 2014 -2021.

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Website-ul ACTEDO a fost actualizat în cadrul proiectului INTEGRIS: Sprijin integrat pentru drepturile omului, derulat de Centrul de Acțiune pentru Egalitate și Drepturile Omului (ACTEDO), în parteneriat cu Centrul de Resurse Juridice (CRJ), proiect care beneficiază de o finanțare în valoare de 197.716,41 euro prin programul Active Citizens Fund România, finanțat de Islanda, Liechtenstein și Norvegia prin Granturile SEE 2014-2021. Conținutul acestui website nu reprezintă în mod necesar poziția oficială a Granturilor SEE și Norvegiene 2014-2021. Pentru mai multe informații accesați Informații despre Active Citizens Fund România sunt disponibile la

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