|Presentation on the new Equal Access to Justice for All Programme|
|Friday, 16 March 2012 09:16|
Harare, 16 March, 2012: A USD 13 million programme to support strengthening the capacities in the Justice Law and Order Sector in Zimbabwe was unveiled on 6 March, 2012 by the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs and the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) in partnership with UNDP as the lead UN Agency.
The four-year Equal Access to Justice for All Programme encompasses a holistic sector wide approach that brings together institutions with closely linked mandates of administering justice, maintaining law and order, as well as implementing human rights. It is a flagship of the Governance and Human Rights Theme Group, where both UN Agencies and Government counterparts converge and is designed to meet the broad ZUNDAF 2012-2015 outcome on “Improved Justice Delivery System and Rule of Law.”
Hailing this integrated approach to the justice sector support, UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Alain Noudehou noted that this programme would address the fragmented approach that had characterised the sector and bring about a harmonised approach for greater results. He further noted that: “joint programming and strong partnerships with UN agencies, civil society organisations, commissions and other partners will enable a successful implementation of this initiative.”
Mr. Noudehou stressed that the multidimensional nature of access to justice programming requires consultations among stakeholders as well as within various programme units in the UN Country Office for effective provisions of “technical and other forms of assistance to enrich the programmes and ensure an explicit focus on the poor and disadvantaged.” He noted these could also be instrumental in supporting capacity development “because access to justice requires building on existing strengths and solutions.”
Echoing a similar theme, the Permanent Secretary for Justice and Legal Affairs, Mr. David Mangota said the holistic approach was expected to result in a functional and well-coordinated justice delivery system composed of institutions that can effectively and efficiently dispense justice to all.
The impact of this support, the Permanent Secretary noted, would be reflected in reduced case backlog, improved access to justice for juveniles and effective rehabilitation of offenders, in particular children and young offenders. In addition, the initiative would contribute towards promoting legislative reform that is responsive to the constitution as well as regional and international obligations. It would also enhance capacities in the justice, law and order institutions, and promote effective legal aid mechanisms.
Participants noted that Zimbabwe’s judiciary has been affected by the socio-political and economic challenges facing the country. This has led to deteriorating infrastructure and brain drain leading to a backlog of cases. Therefore, there was a strong need for continuous training of judicial officers, provision of resources in order to improve and modernise case management for quick delivery of justice.
To bring justice closer to the people, the Programme would provide support towards the decentralisation of the higher and specialised courts in all provinces. Furthermore, magistrates’ courts would be decentralised and specialised courts, such as the labour, administrative, commercial and family courts would be provided technical support to acquaint them with international standards and comparative contemporary practices. The Programme will support policy reform and harmonisation, such as the pre-trial diversion system to improve and promote juvenile justice.
Participants in the Programme include the various ministries and government departments with the Ministry of Justice being the lead interlocutor while institutions in the Judiciary would be led by the Judicial Service Commission. UN agencies that will be involved for technical and other support would include UNICEF, ILO, UN Women, UNFPA, IOM and UNHCR with UNDP as the lead agency. The Programme will also rely on mobilisation of resources from interested donor agencies to cover the funding gaps.
The institutional beneficiaries of the programme including the Attorney General’s Office, Ministry of Labour and Social Services, Civil Society Organisations and the Zimbabwe Republic Police among others, welcomed the presentation of the programme. The presentation was attended by government ministries and departments, donor agencies, members of the UN Country Team, civil society organisations and the media.
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