The RENEW signed an agreement with the Bhutanese Legal Solutions, a boutique law firm based in Thimphu on Wednesday, 9 November to kick start legal aid program for vulnerable women. The program, a first such initiative in the country is aimed at enhancing access to legal representation for vulnerable women who cannot afford a lawyer.
Legal representation entails a Legal Counsel appearing before court proceedings on behalf of a client (vulnerable women in this case), drafting pleadings that are incidental to the court proceedings, and interviewing and preparing witnesses in consultation with the client.
The Executive Director of RENEW, Tshering Dolkar described the initiative as a moment of joy for all the affected vulnerable women. “Until now, although the vulnerable women were able to physically access courts, they did not know the processes to access justice. This legal aid program will help bridge this gap.”
The Legal Aid program supported by UNDP has the potential to be scaled up to suit the diverse eligible groups or individuals that genuinely require legal representation.
The UNDP Resident Representative, Azusa Kubota said this program, although small, will have far reaching impact on the lives of vulnerable women who lack the means to engage professional lawyers to represent their cause. “It is a learning journey that has the potential to showcase that such programs are a possibility. More importantly, the support is key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and will contribute towards the achievement of ‘public satisfaction in the justice services’ identified as a key performance indicator in the country's 12th Five Year Plan.”
Although at present there are many types of free legal advice and services being offered by different agencies, entities, and individuals, legal representation by way of legal aid in an institutionalized manner is not available. Hence, this initiative is significant, and more so because the commercial law firm, Bhutanese Legal Solutions, will provide the service at a subsidized rate.
The Bhutanese Legal Solution’s Managing Partner Ms. Kuenzang Tshomo Dukpa said the firm is happy to partner with RENEW and UNDP on this noble initiative. “We value the need for sensitivity given that clients may not necessarily fall within the conventional meaning and will strive to provide services in the most efficient and sensitive manner.”
RENEW (Respect, Educate, Nurture and Empower Women) is a non-governmental organization dedicated to the relief and empowerment of disadvantaged women and adolescent girls, particularly victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse.
This new collaboration between RENEW and UNDP builds on a series of joint work aimed at uplifting the lives of vulnerable women in Bhutan.
Ms. Dechen Choki, Legal Counsel, RENEW, Mobile: +975 1754 2541, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ms. Dechen Wangmo, Communications Analyst, UNDP Bhutan, Mobile: +975 1734 3086, Email: email@example.com