ISLAMABAD: The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) organised a mission of international development partners to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province here on Thursday.
The mission to Swat, Buner and Peshawar provided development partners with an opportunity to engage with the communities, senior government officials and judicial staff to better understand the challenges for rule of law and to explore further opportunities for promoting peace and justice in the province.
“Access to justice is the fundamental right of every citizen. To achieve this objective, UNDP together with the Government of KP is working on initiatives both at the institutional and community levels and helping to create an environment where access to justice is ensured for all,” said Marc-André Franche, Country Director UNDP Pakistan at the inauguration of the refurbished civil courts in Buner District. UNDP’s Rule of Law project supported the restoration of the civil courts, district public prosecutor’s offices, and information centre at Dagar District Courts.
The Rule of Law Support Programme in Pakistan is part of the UNDP global strategy of promoting access to justice as a means to combat poverty and marginalisation.
The project, with financial support from the Government of KP, was initiated in seven districts of the Malakand region, and has been expanded to three districts in southern KP and one district in the Hazara Division. The development partners visited the area and interacted with the communities in Swat, Buner and Peshawar.
UNDP in Pakistan assists the judiciary, promotes alternate dispute resolution mechanisms and supports legal aid and citizens’ access to justice. In partnership with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Government, the Netherlands and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, UNDP works on justice sector reforms at both community and institutional levels.
The project has brought legal services to marginalised and vulnerable populations through legal aid clinics and bar associations.
These clinics equipped vulnerable populations with information on their basic rights and access to the justice system. More than 546 legal aid clinics have been conducted, directly benefiting 26,569 individuals, including 12,056 women.
With the clinics becoming increasingly streamlined and efficient, these services encourage public use. Women’s participation in these clinics increased from 42 percent to 47 percent in one year.
Regular training programmes provided through the KP Judicial Academy, established with UNDP support, strengthen the province’s judicial system. The Academy has trained 236 Judges, 150 court staff, 203 police officials, and 72 prosecution officers to help them provide better services to their communities.
The project introduced community policing in Malakand district to increase citizen’s confidence in the police, launched the first mobile court in Pakistan to bring justice to remote areas, established a forensic science laboratory at Swat, and encourages female lawyers to enter mainstream legal practice by providing them with scholarships that motivate them to continue their practice of law after graduation.
The international partners acknowledged the initiative taken by the KP Government and UNDP in visiting the province and collaborating with the local communities.
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