A national team, with representatives from the justice institutions in the country, in collaboration with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Austrian Development Cooperation drafted a framework to improve cooperation among the institutions, avoid duplication of works, and strengthen justice services and institutions.

Called the justice sector strategic plan, the final draft of the framework was presented at the closing of the two-day workshop on March 8 in Khuruthang, Punakha.

The work to develop the strategic plan began in July 2016.

Office of Attorney General’s (OAG) chief of drafting and review division, Sonam Tashi, said that the strategic plan would act as a guideline to achieve the 16 National Key Result Area (NKRA) in the 12th Plan. “The strategic plan will function as an umbrella under which the relevant justice stakeholders could work together.”

Strengthening of justice services and institutions was recognised as NKRA 16 in the 12th Plan.

A Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC) official said the commission mobilises resources for implementation of planned activities and a strategic plan would help achieve a common goal.

He added that the strategic plan will help in better coordination among justice sector stakeholders in working towards the achievement of indicator targets for NKRA 16. “When there is proper coordination among sectors, we can achieve more with less resources.”

The strategic plan identified inadequate coordination between institutions; lack of human resources, capacity, capability, and retention; lack of a framework for implementation of legal aid; weak data management leading to inadequate management and accountability as major challenges of the justice sector.

The strategic plan with a mission to provide accessible, inclusive, accountable, responsive, and quality services to promote trust and confidence in the justice sector has five thematic action areas.

UNDP’s deputy resident representative, Niamh Collier-Smith, said that as there is NKRA to monitor justice sector in the 12th Plan, there is a responsibility and opportunity for all to deliver efficient service. “The strategic plan will help better understand where the institutions have reached and where the institution’s mandates connect and where they can rely on each other to provide service.”

Following the adoption of the strategic plan, implementation work will begin with identified national steering committee and justice sector working committee.

Lorenz Metzner from Justice Reform and Leadership, who led the drafting of the strategic plan, said that the institutions would establish agreed timing and responsibilities for the implementation of the plan and align institutional action plans with the identified goals to ensure all planned activities contribute to the sector’s strategic framework. “To monitor the overall performance, there is a responsibility within the sector, national steering committee, and working group reporting to GNHC.”

He added that the strategic plan works to first create sector identity, which is independent but is working for a common benefit.

Chief Justice Tshering Wangchuk reiterated the importance of cooperation among relevant institutions the importance and responsibilities of the justice sectors. “I am confident that our institutions will greatly benefit from the strategic plan.”

He said they have an important task of working out the details towards ensuring effective implementation of the strategic plan through resolute and collaborative efforts.

Although relevant institutions pledged to work in accordance with the strategic plan, a formal adoption of the strategic plan is yet to be conducted.

Phurpa Lhamo | Punakha