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Bhutan, Austria and Switzerland launch joint Legal Sector Programme

Support access to Justice

Bhutan, Austria and Switzerland launch joint Legal Sector Programmeof 2,5 million Euro. The Legal Sector Programme for 2014-2018 will fund the construction of two new district courts in Punakha and Wangduephodrang.

The Secretary of the Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC), Dasho Sonam Wangchuk, the Resident Coordinator of the Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC), Ms. Christine Jantscher, and the Head of Cooperation of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Mr. Matthias Meier, launched a joint Legal Sector Programme (LSP) to support Access to Justice in Bhutan at the Tashichhodzong on February 12th, 2015.

The Legal Sector Programme for 2014-2018 will fund the construction of two new district courts in Punakha and Wangduephodrang. The two development partners will also provide scholarships for 10 Master students in the legal field at renowned universities in Austria and Switzerland. In addition, three future faculty members of the Royal Institute of Law will pursue studies overseas. The institutional partnership of the Federal Administrative Court of Switzerland and the Supreme Court of Bhutan will be deepened through trainings in both countries. A third component of the programme strives to enhance access to justice by supporting some Bhutanese Civil Society Organisations to play a more important role to provide legal aid and legal assistance. "Addressing the legal needs of vulnerable segments of society is a priority for all the partners. This will strengthen the Rule of Law and Bhutan's Democracy" said the Swiss Head of Cooperation, Matthias Meier.

The Legal Sector Programme for 2014-2018 will fund the construction of two new district courts in Punakha and Wangduephodrang.

The Legal Sector Programme supports the 11th Five Year Plan Goals of three legal sector institutions, the Supreme Court of Bhutan, the Bhutan National Legal Institute and the Royal Institute of Law. "To harmonize and coordinate our support as development partners in the best possible way and to promote a fruitful collaboration between the stakeholders of the Royal Government of Bhutan, the parties will ensure that funds are used efficiently and envisaged sector results can be achieved with joint efforts." adds the Austrian Coordinator, Christine Jantscher. The GNHC Secretary thanked Switzerland and Austria for their continued support in strengthening the legal sector in Bhutan, which will in-turn promote the good governance pillar of Gross National Happiness.

The Legal Sector Programme is managed by the Gross National Happiness Commission and steered by representatives of the involved stakeholders. It is the consecutive phase of a previous joint programme funded by Switzerland and Austria, from April 2009 to June 2014.

Source: Austrian Development Agency, February 2015
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