The DSCs are an alternative dispute resolution mechanism that provide refugees with an easily accessible forum where issues can be resolved expeditiously and free of charge compared to the formal legal system.
Currently, there are 16 DSCs and 17 UHLs collaborating with UNHCR in different provinces including Tehran, Qom, Esfahan, Yazd, Kerman, Fars, Khorasan Razavi, South Khorasan, Khuzestan, Bushehr, Alborz, Markazi, Semnan, Qazvin, Hormozgan, Sistan Balouchestan and Golestan (Gorgan and Gonbad), providing assistance to refugees.
In 2022, UHLs assisted 5,905 individuals (5,866 Afghans, 30 Iraqis and nine other nationalities including Pakistanis and Bangladeshis); and DSCs have examined the cases of 1,380 individuals (DSCs are only available to Afghan nationals) mostly on family disputes, financial issues and wage-related disputes.
Legal Services through UHLs and DSCs remain an important- activity, easily accessible for refugees to resolve issues expeditiously and free of charge compared to formal venues. In 2022, family law matters such as divorce, alimony, and custody constituted the majority of the cases that UHLs supported, followed by criminal matters, civil and financial matters, and documentation.
UHLs play a role in counselling Afghan refugees in relation to legal claims and processes, thus facilitating access to the Iranian judicial system to seek redress as appropriate. This will allow for disputes to be resolved in an equitable and effective manner, ensuring that tensions do not escalate within or between communities, thus fostering peaceful coexistence. Additionally, counselling on legal issues helps refugees to assert their rights, which in turn will limit instances of exploitation.