The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) with funding from the European Union, along with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Sri Lanka have come together to launch the Justice Reform (JURE) Programme. This new flagship initiative, funded by the EU for EUR 18 million (approx. LKR 4 billion) and the UN for EUR 1 million (approx. LKR 225 million), will be implemented during four and a half years in close partnership with all relevant actors from the justice sector.
The Programme contains a holistic package of support to strengthen inclusive access to justice, improve transparency and accountability in the sector as well as enhance quality and efficient services delivery. It will build on the ambitious justice reform agenda of the Ministry of Justice. Close attention will be paid in particular to foster access to justice for women and children, to support alternative dispute resolution mechanisms to deal with commercial matters and to maximize the potential of digital technologies to improve efficiency.
Speaking at the Justice Reform (JURE) Programme launch held this morning, Minister of Justice, M.U.M. Ali Sabry P.C. stated: “An efficient, inclusive and independent justice system is a core requirement for the Sri Lankan republic to move forward. We need to strengthen the administration of justice in Sri Lanka to uphold the rule of law whilst ensuring an independent judiciary. This task would be difficult to achieve without a modern mechanism and support from development partners. This programme will certainly pave the way, and I am happy that European Union, UNDP and UNICEF are partnering with us in achieving this goal”.
Commenting on the EU engagement in the sector, Ambassador to the European Union in Sri Lanka, Denis Chaibi stated: “A modern, efficient and inclusive justice sector is critical for social cohesion and to strengthen trust between the State and its citizens. The European Union’s funding is significant and shows how crucial it considers its partnership with Sri Lanka, UNDP and UNICEF to support home-grown reforms and institutions. To enhance access to justice for all will increase the quality and efficiency of justice service delivery”.
Speaking on UNDP’s longstanding support to the justice sector in Sri Lanka as a trusted partner, Resident Representative for UNDP in Sri Lanka, Robert Juhkam stated, “The JURE Programme is designed to be catalytic to improving access to justice, putting people with needs and capabilities at the centre of policies, institutions and programmes. Crucially, UNDP will ensure that JURE provides a platform for bringing together stakeholders across the board, including sectoral state institutions, independent commissions, professional bodies, academic institutions, and civil society into supporting a national effort, without which reform progress would be fragmented. The platform will facilitate consultation, consensus and innovation in judicial reform which is consonant with international standards and best practice, thus strengthening Sri Lanka’s efforts in achieving the SDG-16 targets on peace, justice and strong institutions.”
UNICEF will play a leading role in the implementation of reform to improve the legal framework for the child justice sector in the country. “This partnership offers a real opportunity to make positive changes for every child in contact with the law in Sri Lanka, whether as a victim, witness or offender. Children will have access to legal support and a more timely and appropriate response to their case and, most importantly, be given opportunities for rehabilitation and a fair chance in life” said Christian Skoog, Representative, UNICEF Sri Lanka.
The Justice Reform (JURE) Programme will contribute to building a modern, efficient and inclusive justice sector in Sri Lanka through innovative reforms, digital transformation and strengthened institutions, paving the way towards enhanced social cohesion and a more peaceful and just Sri Lankan society.