Making Justice Accessible to All

08 Jul 2013

image Women learning about their legal rights during a legal aid session in Malakand. Photo: UNDP Pakistan/Fatimah Inayet

Marc-André Franche, Country Director, UNDP in Pakistan, visited Swat, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province to review activities for the project, Strengthening Rule of Law in Malakand.

This project is assisting in promoting the rule of law through provision of support to the justice and security sectors in Malakand division. The activities are currently in place in seven districts of Malakand including upper and lower Dir, Swat, Shangla, Buner and Chitral. During the visit, Mr. Franche interacted with the participants of the legal aid clinic, visited the Swat regional forensics laboratory, met with the project implementation partners including SRSP and the Bar association in lower Dir.

UNDP is strengthening access to justice for women by building a separate bar room for female lawyers at the district courts of Timergara, lower Dir. This facility will be accessible to some 200 female lawyers in the district. Mr. Franche said, “We are taking legal aid services to the door steps of the poor, the vulnerable and the marginalized who cannot afford or access the formal justice system in case of grievances.”

The rule of law project is of vital importance as it aims to improve and deepen on-going efforts to secure peace and stabilization through enhancing justice and sectarian processes. He further added that UNDP will continue providing assistance for institutional and capacity development to rule of law institutions to ensure effective and speedy provision of justice and security services. This project is supporting sustainable peace through improved access to justice for women and men in the Malakand division through effective and accountable justice and security service delivery.

The programme also works with the informal justice institutions so that dispute resolution can be used to settle disputes at community level, while helping to create forums for dialogue links between formal and informal mechanisms will be established. Combined, the activities and outputs under the programme are designed to enhance confidence and trust of the local communities in rule of law institutions. For the first time in Malakand, a forensic lab is being established to help with criminal investigation & prosecution. Supported by UNDP, this lab is a result of the inter-provincial cooperation between Punjab and Sindh. UNDP is engaging with key stakeholders in KP including the judiciary, police department, and local government department, prosecution, bar associations, jirgas, civil society organizations and partners with on-going justice initiatives.

Law department at the University of Malakand and UNDP also established a partnership on clinical legal aid. Mr. Franche also awarded scholarships & stipends to female students in the law department. The programme also ensures linkages and coordination with other UNDP programming and related engagements by the UN system as well as the international community more broadly.