October 3, 2015
"The Seminar on Sharing Experiences of Disaster Related Disputes" was co-organised by the Supreme Court of Nepal and the JICA's Project for Strengthening the Capacity of Court for Expeditious and Reliable on Saturday 3 October 2015. Both Nepal and Japan are natural disaster- prone countries such as earthquakes among others. Therefore, it is essential to consolidate legal system preparing for possible disasters and produce a system to solve various conflicts created among people by disasters. This seminar aimed to learn from experiences in Nepal and Japan and contribute to the development of legal sector in the future.
Though it was held amid fuel crisis caused by unofficial blockade of boarders between Nepal and India, there were over 70 participants from the Supreme Court of Nepal, including Honorable Justice Girish Chandra Lal, representatives from more than 10 District, Appellate and Special Court, Ministry of Law, Justice, Constituent Assembly and Parliament Affairs, Office of Attorney General, Nepal Bar Association, Metropolitan City Offices, Nepal Police, Nepal Insurance Committee and relevant development partners.
The seminar started from the opening remarks of Mr. Bipul Neupane, Joint Registrar of the Supreme Court and followed by Mr. Tsutomu Shimizu, Chief Representative of JICA Nepal office. Mr. Tadashi Okamoto, a guest speaker from Japan, Private Attorney, Visiting Professor of Chuo University, and Lecturer of Keio University, made a presentation on activities undertaken by the Japan Bar Association among others. He shared examples of various types of legal aid services in Tsunami-affected areas after the Great East Japan Earthquake, the data collection and analysis of needs from 40,000 Tsunami-affected people for their support and policy recommendations and proposals to the Government.
Left: Judge Rawal
Nepalese side presented situations after the earthquake in April. Honourable Hemanta Rawal, Judge of Kathmandu District Court, shared the current problems in the court, such as increment of criminal cases after the disaster, loss of trial documents in earthquake-affected courts and non-appearance of conflicting parties to the courts. He also reported the necessity of establishing a special legal system as many of the disaster-related conflicts brought to the courts could not been solved under current laws.
Left: Mr. Pokharel
Mr. Sunil Pokharel, Secretary General, Nepal Bar Association, reported the fact that various aspects of legal procedures have been affected by the earthquakes, for instance, legal procedures on employment, debts, insurance as well as court procedures. In addition, he pointed out the necessity of right-based approach because the people, who have suffered from poverty even before the disaster, have faced more difficulties even though the Nepal Bar Association has provided legal aid for the earthquake devastated areas.
Furthermore, Mr. Basanta Acharya, Senior Legal Officer, Kathmandu Metropolitan City Office, shared the fact that various problems on collapsed or tumble-down buildings have been created among citizen and such cases have been brought to the Office. He also reported it was not easy to coordinate between neighborhoods who want to demolish such buildings and building owners who hope to keep using them after renovation even though a special team is solving such cases at the Office. He added there were 150 unsolved cases out of 450 brought to the Office.
Justice Lal and Mr. Okamoto
After the presentations, participants and presenters had an active question and answer session. Participants requested JICA to hold not only this event but also support disaster related legal support and the Reconstruction Law.
The seminar was concluded by a closing remark from Honorable Justice Lal from Supreme Court. In his remark, he showed his determination to cooperate with various organisations and agencies to tackle the difficulties caused by the disaster. He also appealed the importance of support to the disaster-affected people under thorough legal equality.
JICA has provided legal support to Nepal on drafting a new Civil Code since 2009 and implementing "The Project for Strengthening the Capacity of Court for Expeditious and Reliable Dispute Settlement" to develop capacity required to speed up the trail process in courts and promote the effective use of court-related mediation since 2013.
In addition, JICA has supported recovery and reconstruction for schools, housing, hospitals, water supply system and bridges in Nepal. In such assistance, JICA has also contributed to developing Building Code and its guidelines, Development Plan in Kathmandu Valley and Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan in Sindhupalchowk and Gorka districts as well as providing technical input to Reconstruction Policy.