Strengthening the Rule of Law and Human Rights Protection System in Nepal (RoLHR)
||April 2013 - December 2017
||Nation-wide coverage but with work primary concentrated in 28 districts: Taplejung, Jhapa, Morang, Khotang, Saptari, Mahottari, Sindhupalchowk, Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, Bara, Makawanpur, Chitwan, Nawalparasi, Kapilvastu, Rupandehi, Tanahu, Syangja, Myagdi, Dang, Salyan, Rukum, Bardiya. Surkhet, Dailekh, Kailali, Kanchanpur, and Dadeldhura
||Supreme Court of Nepal and Ministry of Law Justice and Parliament Affairs
||Office of the Attorney General, National Dalit Commission, National Women Commission, National Judicial Academy, Judicial Service Training Centre and Nepal Bar Association
||Norway, Finland, Denmark, UNPEN, UNDP
'Speedy justice and access to justice for all' has become a topmost priority of the judiciary, clearly envisioned in its Strategic Plan. However, despite the systematic judicial reform initiated by the judiciary, access to justice is still a huge threat to rule of law in the country. In this context, UNDP's Strengthening the Rule of Law and Human Rights Protection System in Nepal Programme (RoLHR) aims to strengthen rule of law, promote human rights, enhance access to justice of the poor and vulnerable communities and establish the entire judiciary as worthy of public trust.
RoLHR is supporting the Government of Nepal to bring about systematic changes in national legislative, policy and institutional frameworks and structure to contribute to strengthen the rule of law, access to justice, peace, development and human rights in Nepal. The activities of the programme are directed to meet the target of the Sustainable Development Goals, namely Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls; Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries; and Goal 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institution at all levels.
The programme focuses on two primary areas: First, it supports the rule of law institutions to be responsive to demands for justice service delivery; that is improving the supply side of the justice sector. This entails reform initiatives such as strengthening the coordination among multiple actors involved in Justice Administration, support to capacitate the office of Attorney General, Judgment Execution Directorate, the court officials, and providing technical as well as logistics support to entire court system in Nepal. The programme is making efforts towards ensuring actors' compliance to established human rights in judicial hearing process. Revamping the concept of 'In-camera hearing', for example, has been one of the major reform initiatives being undertaken.
Second, the programme strives to augment the demand for justice related service delivery by developing institutional capacities of justice sector institutions. It includes supporting women and vulnerable groups to access the rule of law institutions to assert and enjoy their human rights entitlements. The Programme, in this regard, is supporting Ministry of Law, justice, Constituent Assembly and Parliamentary Affairs (MoLJCAPA) to establish an integrated legal aid system aimed at strengthening access to justice to vulnerable groups. This support includes development of national legal aid policy, establishment of Socio-legal Aid Centers in districts, launching of an 'affirmative action' law scholarship, clinical legal education and internships to lawyers from women and vulnerable groups. This aside, as part of UNDP's continuous support, the programme is supporting MoLJCAPA in reviewing and drafting of the Civil Code, Civil Procedure Code, Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code and Sentencing Bill. All these bills that are now before the parliament for final review would replace the generic National Code, which is often termed 'outdated'.
Additionally, the Programme also works together with non-formal justice sector to reinforce the formal efforts made by the government agencies to improve the administration of justice. Furthermore, the progrmme seeks to support a holistic transitional justice process in Nepal.
What We Do?
Justice Sector Development Initiative
The project aims to strengthen peace, development and human rights in Nepal. Towards this end, the project seeks to strengthen the capacities of justice sector institutions to work together to implement Nepal's international human rights commitments and domestic legislations. This entails laying the foundations for a sector-wide approach to justice and involves intensive, system-wide interventions to improve the coordination and cooperation of various justice actors. To achieve this, the project seeks to strengthen the capacities of the Justice Sector Institutions by establishing coordination mechanisms at different levels and thereby secure the efficient institutional frameworks for improved service delivery across the sector. For example, establishment of a central-level Justice Sector Coordination Committee Secretariat supports the justice sector institutions to identify, conduct research on and ultimately address justice sector challenges - such as case management, prison management, and judgment execution - which require coordination and collaboration from a number of justice sector institutions. In addition, the secretariat is also aimed at facilitating dialogues on the emerging issues of rule of law and justice among different actors. The role of the secretariat is also supposed to coordinate with all national and international partners to come on board for reinforcing rule of law and justice sector coordination. Currently the project is engaged in creating the infrastructural support for these secretariats at courts to enable them to operate effectively.
Supporting the Law and Policy Reform
The project helps bring Nepal’s legal frameworks and legislations in-line with international human rights standards: UNDP's support over several years has led to the updating of Nepal’s various legislations. Support to the Ministry of Law, Justice, Constituent Assembly and Parliamentary Affairs (MoLJCAPA) has resulted in the drafting of a Criminal Code, Criminal Procedure Code and Sentencing Bill. All these bills- prepared after a rigorous review of international practices and consultations- are now before the parliament for final review. Project aims to extend every possible support to bring these more specialized codes in the form of formal laws of land, replacing the generic National Code (Muluki Ain), which is often termed 'outdated'. Project has helped National Judicial Academy develop a comprehensive clause-wise commentary on all these proposed laws which will help create an informed discourse among the citizenry.
The project is also supporting the law ministry to develop an integrated legal aid policy. Currently the legal aid service is being provided through multiple channels in a fragmented manner and the scope of the legal aid is defined only in terms of economic status of the service seeker. The social aspects involved in the legal aid are yet to be addressed. As the pilot initiative to reform the existing legal aid scheme, the project has established socio-legal aid centres in five districts of the mid and far western regions to help women, poor and other vulnerable people gain access to effective, affordable and timely justice. Launching of an 'affirmative action' law degree scholarship to women and vulnerable groups, and internship programmes to lawyers from these groups to improve their representation and empowerment in the legal profession are a few more systemic interventions rolled out.
Building Institutional Capacity
Institutional capacities of the justice sector institutions play a critical role in the administration of justice. As many of such institutions remain under-resourced, the project supports them in building their institutional capacity. Such interventions include both technical and physical/infrastructural support, including support to implement legislation which can further strengthen the rule of law and human rights in Nepal. Such supports include developing policy, guidelines and strategies for various rule of law actors such as National Dalit Commission, National Women's Commission and Nepal Bar Association, Office of Attorney General among others. Research works, trainings and exposure visits constitute another area of support to build up the institutional capacity of various actors.
Building Interface between Formal and non-formal Sectors
The programme also aims to work together to reinforce the formal efforts made by the key actors to enhance access to justice. This entails reforming the quasi-judicial mandates (of quasi-judicial bodies such as VDCs/Municipalities, tribunals and other administrative bodies) and promote a stronger interface between so called 'non-formal' and 'formal' justice systems. To achieve this goal, the project works with the civil society actors, social workers, media, community and traditional mediators, legal professionals and rights activists, among others, who have direct involvement in the justice administration, rule of law and human rights sectors at the local level.
Strengthening the Transitional Justice Process in Nepal
The project, to ensure a holistic transitional justice process for Nepal, aims to support a future transitional justice mechanism established in accordance with international law, and ensure complementarity between the criminal justice system and all elements of the transitional justice process. Toward this end, the project pursues a ‘victim-centric' approach to transitional justice which seeks to engage both civil society and concerned government agencies. The support under this component has resulted into establishment of Victim Support Forums in pilot districts of the far and mid western regions. The forums are expected to provide legal and psycho-social counselling to the conflict victims while also helping them to register in the list of the affected people. The support is expected to contribute towards implementation of Universal Periodic Review recommendations regarding transitional justice and conflict-related violations and to train women victims on truth telling processes.
Objectives of the project
- To improve capacity to draft, reform and implement legislation by judicial, legislative and administrative authorities to protect people’s rights and constitutional guarantees.
- To improve capacity of justice sector institutions for coordinated service delivery.
- To ensure that vulnerable people have a better access to fair and efficient justice institutions.
- To increase capacity of Government institutions to improve the implementation status of national and international human rights obligations.
- To enhance the capacity of the Government and civil society to develop, establish, and implement inclusive and gender-sensitive transitional justice mechanisms.
What have we accomplished so far?
- People's access to justice strengthened
- People benefited from expeditious court processes
- Strengthened Judgement Execution system helps in building people's confidence
- Enhanced Legislative Capacity to review inclusive legislation
- Vulnerable groups have increased representation in legal profession/sectorsGender and Social Inclusion Interventions
- Gender and Social Inclusion (GESI) interventions:
- Affirmative legal education and professional advancement initiatives for women and vulnerable groups officials and judges in judiciary
- Legal aid and access to justice of poor, women and vulnerable groups: RoLHR Programme supports women, poor, disadvantaged and vulnerable groups to increase their access to justice through Social Legal Aid Services offered in 10 districts namely Dadeldhura, Kailali, Bardiya, Surkhet, Dailekh, Rukum, Rupandehi, Khotang, Saptari and Taplejung.
- Awareness and sensitization on GESI and professional advancement initiatives for women and vulnerable groups, officials and judges in judiciary