US blueprint for accountability in SL judiciary – 30-month project may cost the US taxpayer $4.5 mn
Amidst a controversy over a war crimes probe call by the US and its allies, Sri Lanka is seeking US help to enhance accountability in the judiciary, The Island learns. The Justice Ministry and the USAID have reached an agreement on the project, which could lead to significant changes in the legal system, according to sources.
Government officials said that the project estimated at $ 4.3 to 4.5 mn was scheduled to be completed in two and a half years.
Responding to a query, sources said that the scheme had been brought to the notice of the President’s Office and an urgent study is likely to be undertaken to ensure that the programme is not detrimental to the country.
The government is concerned about the possibility of unauthorised persons having access to restricted material, though the country could benefit from providing the judges and supporting staff with training, according to sources.
The Justice Ministry, Judicial Services Commission, Judges Training Institute and the Legal Aid Commission would be involved in the project, which envisaged USAID backing for a ‘broad set of objectives to promote stabilisation in post-conflict Sri Lanka’, a senior official of the Justice Ministry said.
Sri Lanka has received considerable assistance from the World Bank and the UNDP for developing the justice sector, ranging from the construction of new court houses to the provision of equipment for recently built judges training institute.
Sources acknowledged that the laws delays remained a major problem in spite of promises by successive government to take remedial action.
The setting up of an advisory committee is also on the cards to facilitate the project.
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