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Justice: Her Royal Highness Princess Sonam Dechan Wangchuck, the President of Bhutan National Law Institute (BNLI) said that it is important for the judiciary to reform, when required, to meet the expectations of the people, during the opening of a three-day training on judicial integrity and ethics for dungkhag drangpons and registrars in Paro yesterday.

“We know with time citizens’ expectations and mindsets change. And because of such change, it’s important for the judiciary to reform accordingly to meet their aspirations,” HRH Princess Sonam Dechan Wangchuck said. “Our officials need to change their moral and physical attitude and conduct.”

Her Royal Highness was speaking to more than 30 participants of the training.

Her Royal Highness said that the rule of law, fairness, and independence would remain as the three basic principles for the judiciary in the country.

Her Royal Highness noted that changing attitudes is seen as difficult and as a result many institutions in the country are unsuccessful without internal cooperation and integrity.

Such situations arise mainly from differences in mentality among the officials, Her Royal Highness said.

For instance, Her Royal Highness pointed out that lack of trust and confidence between officials creates a situation where they cannot support each other, diminishing respect and faith in colleagues.

Lack of accountability and transparency in organisations are some of the biggest obstructions preventing effective and efficient functioning of institutions, Her Royal Highness added.

“Because the judiciary’s principles, purpose and functions are the cornerstone of the nation, the integrity and ethics of judicial officials are imperative,” Her Royal Highness said.

Her Royal Highness said it is important for everyone to improve one’s principles and morality, and to join forces towards fulfilling the nation’s common goals.

Her Royal Highness said that it is the judiciary’s role to render fair justice, protect the innocent, and ensure access to justice, for which officials must maintain the people’s trust and confidence in the institution.

A person no matter how able, experienced or learned will not benefit the country and the people if he or she does not possess the highest levels of morality and proper conduct, Her Royal Highness said.

“Everyone in the judiciary, be it young or old, should practice thadamtshi and leyjudrel everyday with the highest integrity and sincerity,” Her Royal Highness said. “We should always be mindful of the ultimate aim to fulfil the sacred mandate of the institution.”

Her Royal Highness said that a person or an institution can fulfil others’ aspirations and hopes only if one works with qualities such as justice, peace, integrity, cooperation, transparency and responsibility.

Her Royal Highness said that should the judiciary lose its credibility, it would be extremely difficult to restore it. The duty falls on everyone to strengthen trust and confidence of the people in the judiciary and the justice system, Her Royal Highness added.

“As necessary, I have expressed my concerns honestly but you should not mind and continue working with these messages at heart hereafter,” Her Royal Highness said.

BNLI director, Pema Wangchuk, said that the amity and collegiality issues Her Royal Highness addressed was not specifically limited to the judiciary but the message was intended for every organisation.

“This is the first time our President has expressed such concerns, which is a reminder for us to improve and conduct with the best of integrity and ethics,” he said.

The training based on a participatory module has sessions on moral reasoning, ethics, and values and attitude, among others.

BNLI has so far trained 226 clerks with support from the Anti-Corruption Commission. The institute and ACC will continue to conduct similar sessions for court officials in dzongkhags for which it has trained trainers. The institute also developed a guideline for the training.

Tshering Palden

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