Improved service delivery by Fiji’s Judicial Department was a key area considered by twenty-three participants (12 women and 11 men) at the Judicial Department discussion on the Development of the Strategic Plan and Court Help Desks, which was held on 27 and 28 June 2017 in Suva, Fiji.
As part of the Fiji Access to Justice Project, funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji, the development of the Judicial Department’s Strategic Plan for 2017-2020 is considered crucial to ensure the Judicial Department continues to grow from strength to strength.
The Project is also supporting the Judicial Department to establish Court Helpdesks which are designed to increase the availability of services for all court users.
The workshop was opened by the Chief Registrar, Mr. Yohan Liyanage, who encouraged the participants to actively engage and robustly discuss the priorities and needs for the next four years. Chief Registrar Liyanage, encouraged the participants to ensure that the voices of the court users were heard both in the Strategic Plan and for the Court Helpdesks.
The workshop was built on previous discussions with key stakeholders and court users regarding both the Strategic Plan and Court Help Desks.
In developing the Strategic Plan, participants examined the International Framework for Court Excellence which focuses on seven areas designed to guide the successful functioning of courts. These areas reflect global best practices, including court leadership and management; court planning and policies; court resources (human, material and financial); court proceedings and process; client needs and satisfaction; affordable and accessible court services; and public trust and confidence.
The participants also analysed international best practices for Court Help Desks. It was noted by the participants that most people approaching the court system for the first time are unaware and unaccustomed to the processes and the institution itself. Thus, the need to consider court users’ perspective in the logistical progression of their cases in the Fijian context was regarded as imperative.
Furthermore, the participants highlighted issues specific to the most vulnerable to include victims of domestic violence. The participants supported the option for a separate section at the Help Desk to ensure that such victims felt safe and were afforded privacy in pursuing justice.
The lead facilitator at the workshop, Professor David McQuoid-Mason, remarked, “The participants carried out the mandate of the Chief Registrar in a splendid manner by constantly providing their ideas for improvement to the Strategic Plan, resulting in a highly interactive discussion, whereby all participants had the opportunity to express their views and this will resound well during implementation of the Strategic Plan by the participants.”
The draft Judicial Department Strategic Plan for 2017-2020, and plans for the introduction of Fiji’s Court Helpdesks, are now under consideration by the key stakeholders.
The Fiji Access to Justice Project supports access to justice for impoverished and vulnerable groups through empowering people to access legal rights and services through the relevant key justice institutions, in conjunction with strengthening those key justice institutions to undertake improved service delivery. The Fiji Access to Justice Project is funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji.
The Fiji Government has endorsed the Sustainable Development Goals which highlights the importance of access to justice as an enabler for development and an outcome of development in its own right. At Goal 16, there is commitment to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build eﬀective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. At Goal 5, there is commitment to achieve gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls. The Fiji Access to Justice Project supports the achievement of these goals.
Ria Sen, Reporting and Communications Specialist, Access to Justice Project, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, tel: +679 322 7577; email: firstname.lastname@example.org