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1. Key findings & Introduction

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Key findings


In 2023, the Hague Institute for the Innovation of Law (HiiL) supported USAID Colombia’s Inclusive Justice Activity by collecting justice needs data. The goal was to understand the justice journeys people in the municipalities where the programme operates are taking. Within this framework, an experimental, self-administered and online electronic Justice Needs and Satisfaction Survey (eJNS) was conducted.

The survey is considered experimental because it employs a rapid online data collection method that has not been used often in legal needs surveys. The aim was to obtain data on people’s justice needs to understand the types of legal problems people face and their experiences resolving these problems. The survey gathered data about the legal needs of people living in 75 municipalities in Colombia.

The eJNS can be a valuable tool for obtaining more frequent, quick snapshots of a non-representative sample’s current state of justice needs and even providing insights into changes over time. There is a space for tools like the eJNS when populations are hard to reach, when resources for more representative surveys are lacking, or when other obstacles exist because justice needs do not cease to exist when they are not measured. 

In Colombia, both an eJNS and a JNS (Justice Needs and Satisfaction) survey were carried out in 2023, with overlapping data collection periods. The JNS was administered via face-to-face interviews to a representative sample of people in 16 municipalities where the Inclusive Justice activity operates. By providing reliable, representative data, a JNS survey is a useful tool for informing policymakers and designing people-centred justice programmes. 

The almost simultaneous administration of the two surveys provided an opportunity to compare their results, revealing both differences and similarities. For example, the eJNS presented a higher problem prevalence than the JNS4, as well as differences in the most common problem categories, which could be explained by the expanded geographic reach, the differences in the sample, or by self-selection bias. However, these differences do not contradict the JNS results. In several cases, the eJNS findings support the JNS findings. Some such similarities include: the resolution rate of all problems (approximately half of problems are resolved) and in the prevalence of direct negotiation as a resolution mechanism. 

Certain differences are expected and require complementary sources of information to contextualise and understand them better. To accomplish this for the eJNS, the research team conducted three follow-up interviews to deepen the analysis and obtain information that the data alone could not provide. 

This report is divided as follows: section two presents the methodology: the structure of the survey, the limitations and characteristics of the study sample. Section three explores respondents’ legal problems; section four continues with the most common types of legal problems, and section five discusses the severity of reported legal problems. Section six discusses actions taken, sources of help consulted, and dives into the semi-structured interviews conducted to provide qualitative context to the actions. Section seven presents anticipated legal problems from participants who reported having no problems at the time of the survey. Section eight closes the report by offering conclusions derived from the data presented.


[3] Family, friends and/or neighbours

[4] In the JNS, 55% of people in the surveyed municipalities experienced at least one legal problem in the previous four years.