Access to justice is a basic principle of the rule of law. In the absence of access to justice, people are unable to have their voices heard, exercise their rights, or challenge discrimination.
According to the 2019 World Justice Report, of the 35% of Filipinos who experienced a legal problem in the last two years, only 20% of them were able to access help. Of those that were able to access help, it was mostly from friends and family (72%). Only 9% responded they were able to access a government legal aid office and only 12% were able to access the court or some government body or the police to resolve their problem.
The Justice Sector Reform Programme: Governance in Justice (GOJUST) aims to improve access to justice for all Filipinos in order to contribute to inclusive and sustainable socio-economic development. The programme is funded by the European Union, in partnership with the Government of the Philippines.
GOJUST specifically aims to develop more responsive and accountable justice services in the country, with a particular focus on those who are most vulnerable, including women, LGBTI, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, and other excluded groups. The programme has a two-pronged approach to strengthening access to justice in the Philippines by combining improvements in the administration of justice and enhancing the promotion and protection of human rights.
We work closely with local communities as well as with the Philippine Supreme Court, the Department of Justice, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government - to improve access to justice for all.
GOJUST runs through June 2025 with a total budget of 19 Million EUR. This is the second GOJUST Programme that builds on and continues the work of its predecessor programme that was implemented from April 2016 to September 2020. It was also funded by the European Union with a total budget of 16 Million EUR. The EU has been a consistent supporter to the governance and justice sector in the Philippines since the early 2000s.
GOJUST is implemented through technical assistance by the British Council and logistical and grant management support from the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS).
The Programme also completed a Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) Assessment and will develop a GESI Mainstreaming Plan for the whole programme.
The GOJUST programme has made an important contribution to pave the way for more innovative and streamlined justice reform efforts towards a common goal of a more efficient, effective, and accountable justice system in the Philippines.
With support from the programme the following have been achieved:
Launched 7 Justice Zones in Quezon City, Cebu, Davao, Angeles, Bacolod, Naga and Calamba. ‘Justice Zones’, are areas where local justice sector actors such as police, prosecutors, public attorneys, judges and prison staff work together to identify common problems and generate common solutions to address them.
A Justice sector strategy jointly developed and adopted by the key justice sector agencies as a first ever chapter on justice titled Swift and Fair Administration of Justice under Chapter 6 of the Philippine Development Plan (PDP).
Supported Congressional approval for the first time of a Justice Sector Convergence Programme Budget amounting to Php 73,210.000.00 for 2019.
Supported the decongestion of 11 of the most congested prosecution offices in the country resulting in a 73% reduction of the backlog from 18,801 in 2017 to 5,091 in September 2019.
813 judges and court personnel trained on the eCourts and/or automated hearings