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APIA, Samoa (July 6, 1999 - PACNEWS)---A new training initiative for judicial officials in the Pacific region has been launched in Apia, Samoa.

The Pacific Judicial Training Project (PJTP) has been described by those associated with its establishment as a "unique development partnership" involving five donors: the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Governments of Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

The project was initiated during the South Pacific Judicial Conference (SPJC) in Apia, where the donors confirmed their commitment to strengthen judicial services in the Pacific.

The project, which will be based at the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji, will be coordinated by Kim Stanford-Smith, a British national with extensive experience in judicial training in the Pacific. It will have a budget of US$ 1.3 million for the next three years.

"The PJTP is a regional approach towards capacity building and institutional strengthening in the area of judicial training," a statement from UNDP said.

"The project aims primarily to establish itself as a center of reference and to provide an on-going regional training program for lay magistrates, magistrates, court officers, paralegal staff, and judges of the Supreme Court, High Court and Court of Appeal."

The USP announcement said the project aims to increase the capacity and competence level of judicial service personnel in terms of knowledge of law, proficiency of judicial skills and development of appropriate attitudes and values.

USP will direct the project while the UNDP Regional Governance Program for the Pacific, which also is based in Suva, will assist with implementing the project and administering its funds.

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