CIVIL SOCIETY INITIATIVES TO PROMOTE THE RULE OF LAW (CSI.ROL) IN SRI LANKA
Civil Society Strengthening: In October 2014 proThe CSI.ROL project, representing the new approach of USAID, is building the capacity of local civil society organizations to promote rule of law reform in Sri Lanka. CSI.ROL is strengthening the advocacy and training capacities of the Sri Lankan Bar Association (BASL), the Legal Aid Commission (LAC), and several leading NGOs. CSI.ROL is a three-year, $3.9 million program that began in September 2013.
Legal Empowerment/Access to Justice: CSI.ROL reflects a new emphasis on legal empowerment through the expansion and improved access of legal services to marginalized communities, particularly women and children and ethnic minorities who have been the most adversely affected by the civil war and the post conflict policies, particularly with regard to land and inheritance rights.
Evidence Based Advocacy: CSI.ROL uses an evidence-based approach to identify problems and assist stakeholders develop locally based solutions to the most pressing problems facing Sri Lankan citizens today. A National Survey on Perception of Justice System was conducted in July and August that revealed a low level of confidence in the legal profession, with lawyers ranking lower than judges and police. The public perceives (and lawyers validate) that lawyers are a major source of court delays and inefficiency. The results of the survey will be discussed at the National Law Conference in March and in a series of provincial roundtables to gain grassroots support from within the Bar for legal reform, and to generate ideas for reform. The findings will also inform the Bar’s strategic plan being developed with CSI.ROL grantee ABA ROLI/Asia.
Public Private Partnerships: CSI.ROL is partnering with MAS Holdings, a garment manufacturer and major exporter; Women in Need (WIN), a prominent NGO; the Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka; and Government Health Services to co fund comprehensive
legal and health services to the mostly female MAS employees, many of whom are victims of domestic violence. CSI.ROL also co funded with a private donor the renovation of the Bar Association’s auditorium to be used for Continuing Legal Education (CLE) training and to become a new income generating training and event facility to support the Bar’s future sustainability.
Improving the Quality and Delivery of Justice: Continuing Legal Education courses have been developed and conducted on the use of Forensics in the Criminal System, and on Migration and Trafficking. A revamped Criminal Defense training was also launched. For Year 2 the following new CLE are being developed: 1) Legal Advocacy Skills TOT, 2) ICT and social media, 3) Interactive Ethics training, and 4) Gender Based Violence and rights of women and children.
Legal Aid Commission trial skills: CSI.ROL is developing training on trial court skills to help LAC lawyers on the issues they face everyday in the field. The training will address: how to draft complaints, answers and other pleadings, pre-trial procedure, oral argument and execution of judgment. The training manual will cover civil procedure, family law, accident cases, landlord/tenant, and defamation. Twenty to thirty lawyers will be trained in each of the 9 provinces.
Human Rights: CSI.ROL grantee, Lawyers for Human Rights Development (LHRD), is conducting prison legal aid clinics to consult with prison inmates. To date, they have brought 11 fundamental rights cases on behalf of inmates who have been in prison more then 5 years without being charged. CSI.ROL is also supporting two NGOs, Women in Need (WIN) and the Center for Women and Development (CWD), to provide legal aid to women who are victims of GBV, conduct sensitization programs for state administrative officials and conduct training programs for mediators on GBV.