The association Vaša prava Bosnia and Herzegovina is a local, non-governmental and non-profit organisation with its headquarters in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Association was originally founded in 1996 as a network of information and legal aid centres under the auspices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) with its mandate to ensure safe, legal, and dignified return of refugees and displaced persons to their prewar homes. The project had been initially implemented by four international and domestic non-governmental organizations until December 2003 when the network became a local non-governmental organisation Vaša prava – Legal Aid Network, which incorporated work, mandate and goals of the previous network of information and legal aid centres funded by the UNHCR.
Registered at the state level in 2005, today the Association Vaša prava BiH represents the largest free legal aid provider and one of the largest non-governmental organisations in the region..
The following are main goals of Vaša prava BiH:
- Protection and efficient exercise of the individual rights of the beneficiaries by means of provision of the free legal aid to allow equal access to justice without discrimination on any grounds;
- Information and education to the beneficiaries in respect the legal regulations, their rights and obligations;
- Contribution towards strengthening the legality, rule of law, and development of civil society.
- Provision of free legal aid, information to the beneficiaries on their rights and obligations, legal advice, drafting various submissions, representing the beneficiaries in the procedures before court, state institutions, organs and bodies consistent with the relevant laws and the international instruments for human rights protection, providing other forms of the legal aid in order to protect the rights and interests of the beneficiaries;
- Advocacy and raising awareness in the matters of human rights and civil society;
- Issuing legal information magazine, brochures, posters, info papers, leaflets, updating web page towards achieving the goals of the Association;
- Organisation of seminars, round tables, expert public forums, sessions and other information campaigns;
- Co-operation with the same or similar associations and other organs and organisations in the country and abroad
Since 1996 the Association has provided aid to some 450,000 refugees, returnees, displaced persons, minority groups, and vulnerable groups of domicile population in the legal matters such as: property repossession, social, economic and cultural rights, discrimination in access to employment, utilities, education, and social welfare as well as other human rights guaranteed by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and other international legal instruments.
Through the network of free legal aid offices and mobile teams, Vaša prava BiH provides all forms of legal aid and will continue to do so in line with the domestic laws, European Convention on Human Rights and other international instruments of human rights protection.
The legal aid programme encompasses a wide range of activities including different legal areas such as labour law, property relations, family law, social rights, status rights, pension and disability insurance, rebuilding and reconstruction, rights of refugees from the Republic of Croatia targeting different categories of beneficiaries from the most vulnerable and struggling of them, such as displaced persons, returnees, refugees, minorities, asylum seekers, victims of human trafficking to vulnerable local population. Additionaly, all legal activities are followed by comprehensive informative activities including workshops, informative sessions, printing and electronic publications and media appearances.
Under the Protocol signed with the state Ministry of Security on provision of free legal aid to the victims of human trafficking, asylum seekers and other persons under international protection in BiH. Also, under the protocol with the state Ministry of Human Rights and Refugges, provision of free legal aid VPBiH provides to beneficiaries who are under the responsibility of this Ministry.
In addition to the cooperation at the local and regional levels through the Balkans Asylum Network, in 2006 Vaša prava BiH signed the memorandum on cooperation with the European Council on Refugees and Exiles, ECRE, by which the Association Vaša prava BiH became a national partner in the regional project. Also, VPBiH continously carries out the activities surrounding the making of the Law on Free Legal Aid in Non-Criminal Matters.