Thinley Namgay

Her Royal Highness (HRH) Princess Sonam Dechan Wangchuck graced the opening ceremony of the inaugural annual general meeting (AGM) of the Bar Council of Bhutan (BCB) in Paro on Wednesday.

HRH is the President of the BCB.

With the theme, “Enhancing Access to Justice for All”, the three-day AGM saw 60 lawyers from private legal firms and relevant institutions.

As the maiden AGM since the establishment of BCB in 2017, many participants said it was timely and relevant.

HRH said the lawyers played a crucial yet often underappreciated role in upholding the rule of law and facilitating justice around the country.

“The legal landscape in Bhutan is continuously evolving; staying relevant is more important than ever,” HRH said, adding that lawyers must learn to adapt to emerging technologies and embark on innovative solutions through cross-sectoral collaborations.

The AGM is aimed at increasing access to justice, respect for human rights and the rule of law, and sensitising the members on the need to render pro bono services, especially for disadvantaged and vulnerable groups.

The meeting will review the current state of the legal profession, including its roles in the justice delivery system, and fostering collaboration and cooperation within the legal profession.

It is being organised to sensitise the members on the rules of professional conduct, an essential component for maintaining public trust in the legal profession.

Khurshid Alam, deputy resident representative of UNDP Bhutan, quoting the president of Singapore, said: “If we allow people to lose, we all end up losing.”

He said that the justice sector had a major role to play in uplifting the lives of people from the fragmented and polarised world.

At the end of the three-day meeting, the participants are expected to learn about some of the crucial legal areas such as inclusive justice for children, women, and persons with disabilities (PwDs), legal aid rules and pro bono guidelines, and legal challenges and opportunities in Bhutan, among others.

BCB vice president, Rinzin Penjor, said, “We pledge to work diligently for the advancement of the legal system to ensure that justice is accessible to all citizens, especially for the vulnerable groups such as PwDs, women, and children.”

The AGM, he said, was for the united purpose, adding that the lack of implementation is the primary issue in the justice sector despite meetings, seminars, and workshops.

He said lawyers and constitutional institutions should conduct thorough research on a case before presenting it to the court to ensure justice.

The AGM is organised by the BCB and UNDP Bhutan.