A platform on access to legal services for persons with visual and hearing impairments, an IT solution by means of which adolescents will learn about the bullying phenomenon and report such cases, as well as an optimized judicial practice search engine are the winning prototypes in "Hackjustice: An Access To Justice Hackathon". 40 young people specialised in justice and IT areas, participated in the competition and developed for two weeks innovative solutions aiming to improve access to justice, especially for men and women from vulnerable and marginalized groups. The competition was organized by INVENTO, within the project "Strengthening efficiency and access to justice in Moldova", implemented by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Moldova, with the financial support of Sweden.
In the first stage of the Hackathon, which took place during 12 – 13 June,the registered teams participated in a brainstorming, a so-called Ideathon, in order to identify areas for IT intervention to remove barriers to access to justice. Among the problems analyzed by the participants were the access to justice of persons with disabilities, the struggle of defending property rights, the complexity of legal language, the lack of an integrated mechanism for assessing the risks of corruption in legislation, as well as the communication between the representatives of the justice sector and the media, etc.
Several experts in justice and IT areas guided the participants during the 2 weeks of the event so that they could develop and present the identified solutions. Thus, during the second stage of the competition, the Hackathon, the teams managed to materialize the concepts into prototypes.
As a result, the jury decided to award the first place to the team "Assist Access", consisting of Ina Cazacu and Petru Tofan, who developed a platform for access to legal services for persons with visual and hearing impairments. The platform will have a component which will automatically redirect the beneficiary to the relevant institution for solving the problem the person is facing.
"The platform has several advantages. Firstly, it can be used independently, without the assistance of a support person. It has a friendly and easy to use design. Another advantage is that this platform can be replicated on the official pages of the authorities, of the national human rights institutions and ensures a direct connection with the law enforcement institutions", mentioned Ina Cazacu, member of the winning team," Assist Access ".
The second place was awarded to the team "Friends of children", consisting of Victoria Mereuță, Victoria Butușanu, Marcel Vlasenco, Nicolae Ursu and Valentina Cliucinicov, who worked to develop a gamified learning platform for young people (12-14 years), addressing the bullying phenomenon, rights and obligations, discrimination. The “Deep Legal Robot” team, led by Constantin Copăceanu, proposed the creation of an optimized judicial practice search engine based on keywords, which can be used by lawyers, but also by other participants in legal proceedings, was ranked third
"All the solutions proposed by the participants are people- centered and aim to make justice more accessible to everyone, including vulnerable groups. The Hackathon is a platform where IT and justice specialists initiated a very important and necessary discussion, the one related to digitalization and IT development of the justice sector. It is important to think as much as possible about such solutions, about the modernization of the justice sector, because people expect a qualitative and transparent justice ", said Daniela Vidaicu, Program Coordinator, Swedish Embassy.
"The two weeks of hard work of IT and justice experts confirmed that the symbiosis between law and technology is possible, and it can contribute to creation of innovative solutions which streamline access to justice. The joint work of the teams is a good example of results that can be achieved through joining forces to contribute to achievement of the commitments under the 2030 Agenda, namely promote the rule of law at the national and international levels, and ensure equal access to justice for all ", mentioned Victoria Muntean, project manager, UNDP Moldova.
”This Hackathon has proven that the connexion between justice and information technology areas generates user-centered solutions, particularly for user from specific categories of the population. Given that each area of life is connected to law, and as in the pandemic context – any field is digitized - all the developed solutions are feasible and deserve to become real projects ", noted Ana Indoitu, director of INVENTO.
The three winning teams were awarded prizes in the form of a certificate for purchase of technical equipment: first place - 2000 USD, second place - 1500 USD, third place - 1000 USD.
The "Strengthening efficiency and access to justice" Project is implemented by UNDP and Sweden, in partnership with two non-governmental organizations - Invento and the Institute for Penal Reform.
The implementing partners will contribute to increasing the coordination and cooperation among the key actors in the justice sector in the four project intervention regions (Soroca, Criuleni, Cimișlia and Comrat). Dialogue platforms will be set up to identify solutions to problems related to effectiveness and access to justice for the local population. Training sessions will be organized for justice professionals in Soroca, Criuleni, Cimișlia and Comrat districts under the project as well.
Similarly, capacity-building activities will be organized for four non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the intervention regions, so that they can effectively participate in a constructive dialogue with the justice chain actors and proactively engage in claiming the rights of litigants. Partner NGOs will then become a source of information and expertise for the local authorities as well as for the men and women in the target communities.