Wednesday, September 16, 2009

U.S. Government Supports Lebanon’s Judicial System

September 16, 2009 As a part of the U.S. Government’s program aimed at “Strengthening Judicial Independence and Citizen Access to Justice” in Lebanon, U.S. Judge Steven Swanson has spent the past several weeks conducting an assessment of the Lebanese legal aid system. Judge Swanson, who has 17 years of experience working in legal aid in the United States and abroad, has been evaluating policies for recruiting and assigning lawyers to cases, reviewing and analyzing Beirut Bar Association procedures, and studying training offered to legal aid lawyers. Judge Swanson’s resulting report will provide practical recommendations to the Ministry of Justice and the Bar Association to ensure greater access to justice, improved legal representation, and a sustainable structure for legal aid.

Judge Swanson’s visit is a part of a broader $8 million program funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Implemented by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), this program supports the efforts of the Lebanese judiciary to strengthen judicial capacity and infrastructure, increase independence and transparency, improve legal training, and expand access to justice for all.

USAID and the NCSC have also begun a $750,000 project to rehabilitate the Beirut Executions Court. The project will finance the reconstruction and refurbishment of the Court, located in the Palace of Justice, and will provide information technology equipment and a modern case filing system at the Court.