ISLAMABAD          -         The European Union will provide grant assistance worth Euro Twenty (€ 20) million (Rs.3.6 billion) for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and its newly merged districts (EX-FATA), as well as Balochistan.

Noor Ahmed, Secretary Ministry of Economic Affairs (EAD), and Ms. Anne Marchal, Chargé d’Affaires of the European Union, welcomed the signing of a new EU Financing Agreement on “Rule of Law Support to Pakistan (RoL)” between the Government of Pakistan and the European Union amidst the COVID-19 crisis.

According to the press statement issued by EAD, the RoL Programme will be implemented over a period of five years (2020-2024). This programme will support Pakistan’s efforts to improve the rule of law, access to justice, and delivery of timely justice in the two targeted provinces, with a special focus on women, children and less privileged groups.

This programme will also provide technical assistance and capacity building to key government institutions in the security sector and the judiciary at federal and provincial level. Under the programme, the police and judiciary will be supported in becoming more efficient, accessible for all, and faster in terms of procedures. As part of the programme, software and IT solutions will be developed and made available, police and judiciary staff will be trained and model police stations will be established with dedicated desks for women. The programme will also help citizens to better understand legal matters, their rights and the functioning of the legal system. This will be done through free legal aid, alternative dispute resolution and mobilizing paralegals who will support citizens with legal know-how. Women and less privileged citizens will benefit from this component of the programme in particular.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UN Women, the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) will implement the programme.

Ms. Anne Marchal said, “This programme aims to provide equal access to justice for all, which is a key policy of the European Union. I would particularly like to thank the Economic Affairs Division (EAD), the line ministries involved and the provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan that designed the programme in close cooperation with us. We are delighted to work with our Pakistani partners to help improve the capacity of the police and judiciary to provide the services to the citizens they expect and deserve.”

Noor Ahmed hailed EU and Pakistan’s long term partnership and appreciated the EU specific sectoral interventions in health, education, good governance and rule of law under the Multiannual Indicative Programme (MIP 2014-20). Commenting on Rule of Law Support, he mentioned that “it is essential for peace, social security, economic development and stability in the provinces.

It will ensure that fundamental rights of the people are protected and supremacy of law is ensured where all are equally accountable before law, this will ensure speedy justice by creating legal certainty and transparency.”