Nepal: ICJ publishes a Briefing Paper on the operation of Nepal’s Judicial Committees in relation to women’s access to justice
In a briefing paper released today, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has recommended to Nepal government to adopt legislative and policy guidelines for the independent and effective functioning of judicial committees in order to promote access to justice for women
ICJ released this briefing paper on “A critical evaluation of the operation of Nepal’s judicial committees in relation to women’s access to justice” that aims to evaluate best practices between formal and traditional justice systems.
The 2015 Constitution of Nepal has envisioned a three-member judicial committee headed by the deputy mayor in the Municipality and a vice chairperson in rural municipalities that are tasked to settle certain disputes under their jurisdiction in accordance with the law. The Local Government Operation Act (LGOA) provides directions for the effective operation of judicial committees.
Despite the Constitutional and legal guarantees these judicial committees are facing some implementation challenges including, a lack of clarity about the jurisdiction and mandate of the judicial committees, an absence of clear procedures and implementation guidelines, inadequate resources, poor coordination between training initiatives, and an absence of a gender–sensitive approach in their work.
The briefing paper provides a set of recommendations to the Nepal government and concerned stakeholders to ensure the effective operation of the judicial committees, including:
- The need to adopt effective measures to develop conceptual clarity among the members of judicial committees regarding their mandate, roles, responsibilities and working procedures.
- A recommendation to amend the Local Government Operation Act in order to clarify confusion and remove ambiguities for the effective functioning of the judicial committees, particularly by providing for due process and fair trial standards consistent with international and domestic law, to be applied when adjudicating cases that are criminal in nature.
- A recommendation to take steps to enact necessary local legislation, regulations, and guidelines on mediation, execution of decisions, and mediation as contemplated by the judicial committees.
- The allocation of a sufficient and separate budget specifically for recruiting adequate human resources, including legal officials, and covering other necessary expenses required for the effective functioning of the judicial committees.
- This budget should also accommodate the necessary physical infrastructure, including separate rooms for counseling and for conducting hearings and mediation, in order to maintain confidentiality and avoid re-victimization of the survivors of abuses.
- The budget must extend to the provision of shelters and safe houses at the local level for victims and survivors who are at high risk, especially for women victims of domestic and other gender-based violence.
- The establishment of a coordination framework among relevant stakeholders and the development of a referral guideline in order to ensure comprehensive support for victims who seek justice through the judicial committee.
- To development a multi-stakeholder network that includes governmental and non-governmental agencies, UN and other intergovernmental agencies and civil society organizations as part of an effort to promote greater coordination between key stakeholders.
Laxmi Pokharel, National Legal Adviser – Nepal, International Commission of Jurists, t: +9779851047588, e: firstname.lastname@example.org
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