Assistance: The Austrian government has committed additional support to the legal sector of another Nu 93 million under the legal sector programme.

Switzerland and Austria jointly funded the programme, which ended in June this year, with Nu 174.5 million.

The Austrian Development Agency (ADA) contributed a total of Nu 182M including the assistance for the extended phase. The Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC) contributed Nu 86M for the programme.

The Austrian government approved the extension from December this year until December 2018.

The agreement for the extension was signed yesterday between GNHC secretary Thinley Namgyel and a representative from the Austrian Coordination Office in Thimphu.

The programme focuses on physical access to court and justice; enhancing capacity and professionalism of the judiciary and the Jigme Singye Wangchuck School of Law faculty, and enhancing awareness of the legal needs of vulnerable segments of society.

The extended programme will fund the construction of the Trashiyangtse court building, and five master courses for lawyers of the Supreme Court.

Besides installation of networks and lease lines in the selected courts, judicial personnel will be provided in-country training on judgment drafting, intermediate and advanced grammar, contract laws, and other legal issues.

GNHC secretary Thinley Namgyel said that with the traditional donors withdrawing their support and the hydropower projects’ commissioning delayed, investment in infrastructure development is hindered by a shortage of budget.

The Jigme Singye Wangchuck School of Law dean Sangay Dorji said: “The funding support will help complete works without any delay and prepare to start the law school on time.”

He said such support to the legal sector is critical given that Bhutan is a young democracy.

The support comes with a nation-wide study on vulnerable citizens who are in need of improved justice,”  Austrian Resident Coordinator, Johannes Binder (PhD) said.

Two additional LL.M. degrees for Court Registrars in Austria has been provided therefore increasing the total LL.M. degrees from four to six for Austria.

A Memorandum of Understanding will also be concluded between the Jigme Singye Wangchuck School of Law and the University of Vienna under the extended programme. The faculty from the University of Vienna will visit Bhutan to conduct research and teach classes through 2018.

With methodological expertise from the University of Vienna, the Jigme Singye Wangchuck School of Law Clinic director will supervise a nationwide survey of legal needs and capacity, focusing on vulnerable populations, within the context of GNH and SDG-16.  The results will inform the clinical and doctrinal curriculum of the law school, and will be reported to justice-sector actors and donors.

Three specialised Master degrees abroad will be funded for future teaching and research faculty of the Jigme Singye Wangchuck School of Law.

Dechen Tshomo