Sri Lanka: UNODC empowers officials to transform public service and justice for a stronger civic space

Thissamaharama (Southern Province) and Kandy (Central Province), Sri Lanka/22 October 2023: Championing human rights and facilitating access to justice are integral foundations for constructing an equitable and inclusive society. Empowering individuals to seek remedies for injustices, ensuring accountability for wrongdoers, and safeguarding their rights fosters trust in the legal system, ultimately promoting social cohesion and reinforcing the rule of law.

In this backdrop, UNODC recently conducted two pivotal workshops in collaboration with the Legal Aid Commission that aimed to empower public officials and judicial officers with the knowledge and skills necessary to enhance public service delivery and access to justice.

The first of these workshops was strategically designed to reinforce the importance of efficient public service delivery in Sri Lanka. It convened 40 public officials from various state institutions, equipping them with the tools and insights required to understand the dynamics of public service delivery. The discussions enabled public officials to identify areas for improvement in the service delivery process, ensuring that citizens' needs are addressed and met effectively.

During the workshop, the spotlight fell on a critical issue—the 'attitude' of public officials while discharging their duties. Through interactive sessions with state officials, participants engaged in candid discussions about the importance of a positive and citizen-centric attitude in public service. By addressing this issue head-on, the workshop paved the way for a more responsive and empathetic public service system.

By honing their capacities to identify areas for improvement, these officials are now better equipped to create a more citizen-centric public service system in Sri Lanka.

The second workshop placed its focus on the sphere of justice delivery. It brought together 40 judicial officers from across Sri Lanka to sensitize them to the importance of speedy service delivery and the critical role they play when citizens seek justice through court hearings.

This workshop encouraged participants to scrutinize the justice delivery process and reflect on the actions they can take within their authority to effect positive change.

One of the unique features of this workshop was its commitment to practical solutions. By engaging in focused group discussions and candid conversations, judicial officers had the opportunity to share their experiences and insights. This peer-to-peer interaction provided an enriching environment for participants to understand the complexities and challenges inherent in their roles.

The participants were quick to underscore the importance of understanding the issues and relevant solutions, as these discussions among themselves fostered a more profound comprehension of the intricate challenges they face.

This activity contributed to SDG 5, SDG 16 and SDG 17:

(Funded by UN Multi-Party Trust Fund)