Hon. Acting Chief Justice Mr. Kamal Kumar
Hon. President of the Court of Appeal Mr. Justice William Calanchini
Hon. Resident Justice of Appeal Court Mr. Justice Suresh Chandra,
Hon. Chief Registrar Mr. Yohan Liyanage
Head of Cooperation of the European Union Delegation for the Pacific Mr Christoph Wagner
Legal experts and practitioners in Fiji
Members of the media
Ladies and gentlemen
Good afternoon to you all.
Thank you for inviting me to be here with you for the launch of the Judicial Department Strategic Plan 2019-2023.
The Strategic Plan is a demonstration of Fiji’s and the Judicial Department’s commitment to the improvement of access to justice for all Fijians and particularly vulnerable or marginalized groups.
The comprehensive five-year strategies as stipulated in the strategic plan are based on the department’s values and the international framework for court excellence. Such strategies, which are aligned to the provisions of the Fiji Constitution, provide a concrete guide towards a more inclusive society based on the rule of law and promoting human rights through effective and efficient justice service delivery.
We all know that inequality, discrimination and exclusion remain severe obstacles to universal human development. Impoverished and marginalized groups may not be aware of their legal rights and often lack legal protection and access to mechanisms to remedy their grievances, resulting in increased vulnerability.
UNDP supports national partners to address security and justice through a human rights-based approach, to nurture public participation and trust, and to expand access to justice, especially for women, youth, persons with disabilities, marginalized groups and displaced communities.
Such a human rights based approach is evident throughout the plan being launched today. Strategies to decentralize court sittings so as to reach rural and remote areas; establishment of public information centers at all courts; installation of ramps, car parking allocation, lifts and restrooms for persons with disabilities are just a few examples of how the Judicial Department is striving to reflect the needs of the people it serves and rights.
In Fiji, UNDP has been privileged to be part of a project that endeavours to contribute to an inclusive society. The Fiji Access to Justice Project is funded by the European Union and implemented by the United Nations Development Program.
The Project supports access to justice for impoverished and vulnerable groups by empowering people to access their legal rights and services, and strengthening key justice institutions to deliver services.
To achieve this outcome, the Project is supporting the Judicial Department in establishing a case management system to effectively measure and analyze data with a view to improving service delivery and responsiveness to the justice needs of impoverished and vulnerable groups. Further, publication of the Fiji Law Reports, as supported under the project, assists the Judiciary and legal practitioners in accurately accessing precedents.
UNDP acknowledges the valuable partnerships created under the Fiji A2J Project and with the support of the European Union, UNDP looks forward to continued collaborative successes and achievements with the Judicial Department in the future.
The Fiji Access to Justice Project contributes significantly towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and in particular, SDG 16 which is a 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. It also contributes to SDG 5, advancing gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls.
UNDP will continue to be a committed partner towards Fiji’s sustainable development pathway through achieving these goals.
To conclude, I wish to congratulate the Judicial Department for producing such an ambitious, inspiring and inclusive plan which paves the way for inclusive justice delivery for all Fijians.
Thank you for your attention and Vinaka Vakalevu.