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EU invests M170 Million to uphold rule of law

Business

Ntsoaki Motaung

The government, supported by the European Union (EU) has launched a M170 million project aimed at enhancing the rule of law, good governance, human rights and gender equality in the country.

The government signed a financing agreement with the European Commission in September 2020 to implement the programme titled: ‘Support for the Reform and Strengthening of Governance in Lesotho project’.

The programme officially started on March 9, this year, and will run for a period of 48 months ending in March 2027.

The implementation of the project is coordinated by the Ministry of Justice, Law, and Parliamentary Affairs with support from the Programme Coordination Unit (PCU).

The programme was officially launched in Mafeteng on Wednesday this week.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice, Law, and Parliamentary Affairs, Justice Nthomeng Majara, officiated the event.

The launch aimed to inform the public about the programme’s objectives and its intended benefits for the nation.

The event commenced with a march to Leshoboro Stadium where the event was held.

There were exhibitions to raise public awareness about the roles of different departments benefiting from the project.

Director of Economic Planning, Seoaholimo Phorisi, outlined four specific objectives of the project.

Among them is the assurance of improved access to justice for all, particularly for women, children, and other vulnerable and marginalised groups.

Phorisi noted that Legal Aid will play a crucial role in enhancing the adequacy of legal, judicial, and institutional responses to the needs of right-holders.

“Additionally”, Phorisi stated, “there will be expanded legal aid and legal representation measures for indigents and groups in vulnerable situations.”

He said this included increased utilisation of diversion and non-custodial measures, mediation, rehabilitation, and reintegration mechanisms for inmates, encompassing men, women, and juveniles.

The project also aims to fortify the accountability, integrity, and credibility of justice and governance institutions.

This involves the development of performance and integrity frameworks for the judiciary, following institutional and legislative reforms.

“As a result, we anticipate enhanced technical capacities and professional skills within oversight bodies like the Ombudsman, DCEO, OAG, and Parliament to effectively carry out their mandates,” Phorisi said.

Chimwemwe Mangeni, the PCU team leader, highlighted that the Programme Steering Committee (PSC) would oversee and validate the overall direction and policy of the program.

Mangeni added that the PSC will also be responsible for monitoring progress and implementing corrective measures as required.

“A PCU has been established to offer technical assistance to the Ministry in areas such as planning, monitoring, reporting, procurement, and financial management,” he said.

Beneficiaries of the project include various entities such as the judiciary, Master of the High Court, Attorney General, Legal Aid Unit, Director of Public Prosecution, Lesotho Correctional Services, Probation Unit, Law Faculty of the University of Lesotho, Human Rights Unit, Office of Parliamentary Counsel, Law Reform Commission, Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO), Ombudsman, Auditor General, National Assembly, and Senate.

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