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Training Ensures Access to Justice

Ensuring early access to justice for people in Fiji, was the overarching theme at a series of two-day training conducted over a week recently. The training was for officers from
16 Feb 2017 11:00
Training Ensures Access to Justice
Ashwin Raj

Ensuring early access to justice for people in Fiji, was the overarching theme at a series of two-day training conducted over a week recently.

The training was for officers from justice sector institutions and held in Sigatoka.

120 officers from the Legal Aid Commission, Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission,and other justice sector institutions learned and demonstrated their skills to provide effective early access to justice in criminal justice processes.

The training was part of the EU-Funded Fiji Access to Justice Project implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Professor David McQuoid-Mason, president of the Commonwealth Legal Education Association, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, one of the trainers for the course, ‘Early Access to Justice in Criminal Justice Processes’, emphasised that the early stages of the criminal justice process—the first hours of custody or detention—are crucial for those who have been arrested or detained in respect of a criminal offence.

The way suspects and accused persons are treated, has a significant impact and portrayal of the efficiency and effectiveness of the criminal justice system in the country.

“Access to justice during the early stages of the criminal justice process protects people at a time when they are most vulnerable, and is a key safeguard against torture and ill-treatment,” Professor McQuoid-Mason said.

“It also ensures that poor and vulnerable people are treated with respect and dealt with fairly, and helps to strengthen criminal justice institutions and make them more responsive to the needs of citizens.”

The training enhanced knowledge and skills of the participants to enable the delivery of access to justice as required under the Constitution of the Republic of Fiji, which provides for the rights of arrested and detained persons.

The training also provides support to the ongoing initiatives being undertaken by Government following the ratification of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment on March 16, 2016.

Bakhodir Burkhanov, Country Director and Head of Regional Policy and Programme for the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji said, “Access to justice is both an enabler for development and an outcome of development in its own right.

“As such, it is prominent in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which the Fiji Government has endorsed.

Feedback:  jyotip@fijisun.com.fj



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