NGOs Get Funds for Justice Initiatives

For the first time Non-State actors will be eligible to get financial supports to implement their initiatives on judicial reform if they submit successful applications to the Justice Initiatives Facilitation Fund.

The Justice Initiatives Facilitation Fund (JIFF), the third component of the Justice Partnership Programme (JPP) co-funded by the European Union, Sweden and Denmark supports justice sector reform in Vietnam, held its Inception Workshop on 18 August 2010 in Hanoi with participation from more than 80 representatives of associations, organization and state agencies.

The total budget of the programme is estimated at 20.1 million Euros in which the donors pledged to contribute 18.7 million, paving the way for a five-year programme from 2010 to 2015. The JPP is implemented through three components: (i) Support to state institutions in implementing the JRS (implemented by the Supreme People’s Court, the Supreme People’s Procuracy and the Ministry of Justice); (ii) Support to the Vietnam Bar Federation; (iii) Support to Non-Government Organizations and Initiatives through JIFF.

Speaking at the JIFF Inception Workshop, Danish Chargé d’Affaires Tove Degnbol, the co-chairman on behalf of the donors said “Supports to legal and judicial reform in Vietnam have been mainly channelled to state institutions in the past decades while we are all aware that people and non-government organizations, especially community-based organizations in the country play an important role in the reform process. With this principle JIFF has been set up to provide funds to support and implement initiatives of NGOs which contribute to enhancement of awareness of rights, access to justice and support to judicial reform”. Mr. Nguyen Khanh Ngoc, General Director of International Cooperation Department, Ministry of Justice, co-chairman on behalf of stakeholders stressed that this was the first time the Government has used ODA to fund non-state actors’ projects in judicial field, which reflected well its great effort and open attitude to the judicial reform.

All fundings to non-state bodies fall into four key result areas: popularising the rights and opportunities provided by the law and justice system; improving access to independent legal aid; enhancing judicial reform through applied-research; and enhancing dialogue and information sharing on matters relevant to judicial reform.

Many participants expressed their appreciation for the support. Mr. Dao Soat, president of the Vietnam Blind Association, which was founded in 1969 with more than a million members in the country said his association was preparing to submit an application for funding. “Many blind people have limited access to education and thus are unfamiliar to legal system and their rights” he said. The president of the Centre for Social Research and Development based in Hue proposed her idea of using this fund to provide legal aid to local women and migrants in central provinces. “Up to now, this kind of funding has only gone to large well-known organizations. JIFF has opened a new door for us”, she said.

The Inception Workshop provided a good opportunity for donors, state agencies and non-state actors to exchange their point of views on JIFF mechanism where selection criteria and application process were presented. The first Call for Proposals is scheduled to be published nationwide on 6 September 2010, and two Justice Initiatives Workshops will be organized in Hochiminh and Danang to assist with further information and proposal writing.

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