A platform on access to legal services for people with visual and hearing impairments, an IT solution through 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 of "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 Programme (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, to identify areas for IT intervention to remove barriers to access to justice. Among the problems analysed by the participants were the limited access to justice of people 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 communication between the representatives of the justice sector and the media, etc.

Several experts in justice and IT areas guided the participants during the two 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", that included Ina Cazacu, Victoria Secu, Iuliana Cozma, Petru Tofan and the experts Inga Furtună and Vasile Banari, who developed a platform for access to legal services for people 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 that a certain 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 Inga 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 and discrimination.

The “Deep Legal Robot” team, consisting of Constantin Copăceanu, and experts Alexei Ghertescu, Dan Nicoară and Natalia Mardari-Grebencea, 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-centred 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 synergy 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 nexus of justice and information technology generates user-centred 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 – US$2,000, second place – $1,500, third place - $1,000.

In the next period, discussions to identify partnerships for the implementation of the winning solutions of "Hackjustice: An Access to Justice Hackathon" will be initiated with state institutions in the field of justice.

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