ACCESS TO JUSTICE is integral to improving public health and achieving broader development goals. Socially excluded people, in particular, experience human rights violations that harm their health and well-being. These violations include police harassment, sexual violence, unlawful discrimination, land dispossession, forced medical interventions, and denial of essential services. Access to justice programs can—and should—play a critical role in addressing and deterring these abuses.
Since 2007, the Open Society Public Health Program has experimented with a variety of approaches to improve access to justice for socially excluded groups, with a focus on health. These approaches regard such groups as vital actors in the justice system, rather than as its victims or passive beneficiaries. This Good Practice Guide reflects key lessons that we and our partners have learned.
While it draws on our work with sex workers, people who use drugs, people living with HIV, people in need of palliative care, Roma, and people with intellectual or psychosocial disabilities, many of its lessons apply more broadly. This Guide builds on our 2013 publication Bringing Justice to Health: The Impact of Legal Empowerment Projects on Public Health. It is complemented by a virtual toolkit [http://namati.org/resources/justice-programs-publichealth-virtual-toolkit/] that offers a wide range of resources for implementers and donors working to advance the health and human rights of socially excluded groups.