13 July 2011
Kathmandu, 30 June 2011 – ASF is pleased to announce the signing of the General Agreement between ASF and the Nepalese Social Welfare Council. This event took place in Kathmandu on 12 June and involved Julie Fournier, the ASF Head of Mission in Nepal and Dr Chhewang N. Lama, Member-Secretary for the Social Welfare Council, which is responsible for the relations with the NGOs in Nepal. The signing of the Agreement officialises the presence of ASF in the country.
After a pilot phase in 2009-2010 limited to temporary missions by ASF staff, training of lawyers and awareness raising of the population, ASF has now a permanent office in Kathmandu with one international head of mission and local staff. This will allow ASF to work in close collaboration with local NGO’s and Bar associations to implement a comprehensive set of activities to improve access to justice for the most vulnerable.
District Bar associations in five pilot districts will be accompanied to develop, implement and monitor their own access to justice strategies. These programmes will encompass legal awareness, mobile and permanent legal aid centres and visits of detention facilities. Women, children, detainees, victims of torture and ill-treatment and members of marginalised groups will be the prime beneficiaries of these services. ASF will also be able to provide technical support to local lawyers and to the National Bar to collect data and evidence about the services provided and increase the input of the Bar and local NGO’s in the policy dialogue about legal aid and access to justice in Nepal.«We hope to strengthen the role lawyers can play in ensuring access to justice in Nepal and, through this mean, increase public confidence in the formal justice system. »says Julie Fournier, Head of Mission.
Early June, a first workshop was set up for partner organisations and District Bar representatives from the five areas to familiarize them with the programme. « This kick off workshop allowed us to secure a common vision and understanding of our programme », states Julie. Working in line with partners andpromoting communication, coordination and collaboration between the District Bars and NGO’s working in the legal sector in Nepalis crucial for ASF. « Our partnerships with NGO’s will allow us to do more in Nepal », says Julie.
Julie Fournier, the ASF Head of Mission in Nepal and Dr Chhewang N. Lama, Member-Secretary for the Social Welfare Council officialise the presence of ASF in Nepal.
© Gopi Parajuli. © Gopi Parajuli.