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Australia and the Philippines launch PhP 727 million justice program for socially disadvantaged groups

The Australian Government and the Supreme Court of the Philippines launched the Fostering Advancement of Inclusive and Rights-based (FAIR) Justice Program on 11 April. It was held in Baguio City where the members of the Supreme Court were having planning sessions.

FAIR Justice is a five-year Australian flagship investment (valued at PHP 727 million) that aims to support the Philippines to enhance the administration of justice for women, children, Indigenous people, people with disabilities and other socially disadvantaged groups.

The program will focus on improving the quality of adjudication and case management concerning socially disadvantaged groups, strengthening transparency and accountability in the justice system, and enhancing inclusion and accessibility in the delivery of justice.

“As Strategic Partners, Australia and the Philippines share a commitment to the rule of law and to strong and accountable institutions. These are important elements for the stability, security and prosperity of the region we live in,” said Acting Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Dr Moya Collett.

“The FAIR Justice program builds on our longstanding law and justice cooperation with the Philippines. We are excited to take this forward with the Supreme Court of the Philippines and learn from each other’s practices and experiences to make justice more inclusive and accessible for those who need it most,” added Acting Ambassador Collett.

Chief Justice Alexander G Gesmundo said, “Today we reinforce our strategic partnership by embarking on another phase that I am certain will be productive and beneficial for both our countries. This launch is a testament to the strength of our shared commitment to the rule of law, human rights, and strong and accountable public institutions – a commitment that we breathe new life into today.”

FAIR Justice will support innovative judicial reforms led by the Supreme Court of the Philippines. It will feature coordination among the justice sector institutions, and contribute to the swift and fair administration of justice. It will foster collaborative partnerships between Philippine law and justice institutions and their Australian counterparts, such as the Federal Court of Australia and the Family Court of Australia.

FAIR Justice will also work through community-based channels to support individuals in accessing legal support. The program will deliver technical assistance, capacity building, institutional partnerships, exchanges and scholarships, and policy dialogues and advocacy.

The program launch was led by Chief Justice Gesmundo and Acting Ambassador Collett of the Australian Embassy in the Philippines. Joining them were Chair of the FAIR Justice Programme Management Committee, Associate Justice Maria Filomena D. Singh, together with the other Associate Justices of the Supreme Court, members of the Philippine judiciary, alternative law groups and civil society organisations.

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