News & Resources

Building Integrity and Transparency at the Local Level

January 2017

Municipal Integrity Model increases government transparency in El Salvador

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Tetra Tech has been working in El Salvador since 2016, implementing the USAID Government Integrity Project (Proyecto Pro-Integridad Pública) to improve transparency and accountability in key government institutions. USAID recently signed memoranda of understanding with 11 municipalities that have demonstrated the political will to implement institutional changes to promote transparency, accountability, and citizen participation in their communities. As part of this effort, Tetra Tech’s USAID Government Integrity Project has helped develop a Municipal Integrity Model (MIM) to transform the culture of municipal institutions.

The MIM, which is initially being adopted in five municipalities, seeks to create a new organizational culture based on consistent ethical standards and institutional procedures to reduce the risk of corruption. The methodology aims to establish an atmosphere of trust, ownership, and accountability through the institution itself conducting an internal analysis of its ethical conditions and by involving the entire work force of the institution in detailed plans to increase transparency.

Tetra Tech initially developed the award-winning institutional integrity methodology for national-level institutions, and has assisted with its successful implementation in a number of countries in Central and South America. Under the leadership of Tetra Tech’s Chief of Party (COP) Paola Barragán in El Salvador, the USAID Government Integrity Project team has adapted this methodology to the municipal context. Each participating municipality establishes a Municipal Integrity Commission, which typically consists of two members of the municipal council, an information officer, an ethics commission representative, an accountability officer, and a community leader. “The commissions are made up of the right people who know the issues and who can make decisions,” explained Daysi Valle, Public Information Officer from Cojutepeque.

Each commission conducts a structured self-evaluation that collects information on institutional conditions in five categories: transparency, accountability, citizen participation, ethics , and public efficiency. Although in some municipalities the results have shown that there is substantial work to be done, municipal participants have received the findings with great enthusiasm. “Working within this framework allows for greater openness and social control in public affairs, and has allowed us to have a comprehensive … approach to [improving transparency] in the municipality,” explained Daniel Escobar, Public Information Officer from Santo Tomás. “I have observed a real energy among municipal officials to become change agents in their communities, which is really heartening,” adds COP Barragán.

Working with the USAID Government Integrity Project, the municipalities are using the results of the self-evaluations to develop specific improvement plans to improve transparency and integrity. This process will build local capacity with the expectation that after one year each municipality will be able to institutionalize the MIM and carry out its own periodic self-assessments. “We are explaining how to apply the methodology to improve … accountability,” said Juan Flamenco, Land Use Registry Chief for the Zaragoza municipality. “Transparency is a big challenge, but our will is greater,” added Daniel Escobar.

 

Strengthening Civil Society Justice Initiatives in Myanmar

December 2016

Tetra Tech’s USAID Promoting the Rule of Law Project supports Access to Justice Initiative

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 With the recent leadership transition in Myanmar, civil society and government leaders must learn to work together to foster a culture of democratic governance. To advance this objective, Tetra Tech’s USAID-funded Promoting the Rule of Law Project (PRLP) has been supporting the Access to Justice Initiative (A2JI), a coalition of civil society leaders committed to advocating for structural and policy reforms to improve access to justice in Myanmar.

A2JI, which is composed of more than 40 leading civil society organizations (CSOs), was launched in 2015 with support from USAID. A2JI’s mission is to form a unified civil society platform to identify and engage in constructive advocacy efforts with the new government. A2JI consists of three clusters: Research, Advocacy, and Monitoring & Oversight. Through these clusters, A2JI pursues the following objectives:

Research: Conduct research and analysis to inform policy and advocacy programs, including review of existing laws, collection and analysis of baseline data, and development of an online resource library.

Advocacy: Identify effective, relevant, evidence-based strategies for collective or individual member advocacy.

Monitoring & Oversight: Monitor the performance and reform efforts of the Hluttaw (House of Representatives), executive branch, and judiciary to adhere to international standards.

Over a six-month period in 2016, with technical and other support from USAID’s PRLP, each of these clusters undertook substantive work including research into the inclusion of access-to-justice systems in key laws, an evaluation of recent CSO-led advocacy efforts, and a trial monitoring program. Some of the results demonstrate how much work remains to be done: in only one criminal case, out of more than 100 observed cases, did the defendant have counsel at the time of the remand hearing. Moreover, only 70% of respondents believed they could not challenge a wrongful dismissal from employment, even though there are legal mechanisms to do just that.

These and other findings formed the basis for A2JI’s first set of justice sector and CSO advocacy recommendations, which were presented to members of Parliament. Through support to initiatives like A2JI, USAID’s PRLP is fostering civil society engagement and advocacy and promoting greater access to justice. All of these are in the service of a peaceful transition to an inclusive and transparent democracy for Myanmar.

 

Launch of a Legal Aid Toolkit in Myanmar

December 2016

Tetra Tech’s Promoting the Rule of Law Project launches a legal aid toolkit for lawyers in Myanmar

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In December 2016, Tetra Tech’s USAID-funded Promoting the Rule of Law Project (PRLP) culminated many months of work with the formal introduction of its Legal Aid Toolkit, a technical manual designed as a self-education resource for lawyers and legal professionals providing legal aid to Myanmar citizens. Some sections of the Toolkit cover skills that legal aid providers need to perform their job well, including case analysis, witness interviewing, alternative dispute resolution, and trial advocacy, while other sections address what it means to be a legal aid provider, including how to operate a legal aid organization and manage legal aid cases.

The Toolkit launch event was a major public success, attended by over 200 senior legal aid lawyers, law students, paralegals, PRLP staff, civil society organization members, and USAID representatives and publicized on the US Embassy website and in the Myanmar Times. Speaking at the launch event, USAID Myanmar Mission Director Teresa McGhie praised the Toolkit as an important resource that, “will strengthen the quality of legal aid services and improve access to justice in Myanmar." PRLP has prepared both Myanmar and English language versions of the Toolkit, including templates for commonly used forms, which will be distributed to legal aid providers in conjunction with planned Toolkit trainings in the coming year.

Legal aid in Myanmar is at an important stage of development, with the Government of Myanmar having recently enacted a Legal Aid Law, communities and individuals learning about the availability of legal aid, and legal aid providers perfecting the skills they need to serve their clients. PRLP’s Legal Aid Toolkit is an important contribution prepared with the goal of educating and assisting Myanmar's legal aid providers during this exciting period.


 

Jordan Leadership Program Builds Capacity of Government Officials

December 2016

Tetra Tech’s USAID Rule of Law Project builds capacities of future public sector leaders

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Building on our presence in Jordan since 2004, Tetra Tech’s current USAID-funded Rule of Law Program (ROLP) is working to strengthen democratic accountability and effective rule of law through improved institutions, systems, and processes and increased civic and private sector participation in oversight activities. ROLP has been supporting the Ministry of Public Sector Development’s Government Leadership Program, which aims to build capacity of potential leaders in a variety of areas including strategic planning, project management, human resources, economics and finance, communication, negotiation, change management, and ethics.

In May 2016, ROLP and the Ministry jointly conducted a two-week training for 40 future government leaders serving in the country’s southern region. In addition to attending sessions on strategic planning, priority setting, and budgeting, the participants also learned how to engage effectively with civil society to improve service delivery. At the conclusion of the training program in Aqaba, the Minister of Public Sector Development, Dr. Khalif Alkhawaldeh, stressed the importance of equipping public sector middle managers to serve in leadership positions and generally be more accountable to the public at large.


 

JSAP Plays an Active Role in Improving Court-Public Prosecution Cooperation

November 2016

JSAP has supported various meetings and workshops between justice sector stakeholders on the district and now national level

Improving cooperation between the Public Prosecution and Courts and other justice sector stakeholders has been a long-time Justice Sector Assistance Project (JSAP) priority. JSAP has regularly focused on facilitating meetings on the district level between Chief Prosecutors, Chief Judges and their respective staffs in order to improve investigative teamwork and the processing of cases. During the period of August 1-2, 2016 JSAP helped elevate this cooperation, taking it to the national leadership level as JSAP hosted a joint workshop with the participation of institutional leaders including Attorney General, Ahmed Barrak and High Judicial Council (HJC) Secretary General, Judge Raed Assaf as well as Chief Judges and Prosecutors from across all West Bank governorates.

West_Bank_Judicial_Prosecution_Cooperation_SnapshotThe workshop was conducted in coordination with the HJC and the Attorney General's Office (AGO) and was led by a JSAP consultant, Jordanian Judge Mustafa Al-Assaf. The event focused on having an open and honest dialogue on the key challenges presented in joint Public Prosecution-Judiciary work and proposing solutions to these challenges.

Speaking at the workshop Attorney General Barrak stressed the significance of this workshop and emphasized the need to focus on solutions to the many challenges facing prosecutors and judges in their joint work in order to facilitate litigation and ensuring justice and rule of law for Palestinian citizens. Judge Assaf noted that despite a successful relationship between the Judiciary and Public Prosecution it is necessary to identify current challenges in order to provide solutions so as to better serve the public interest.

Over the two days judges and prosecutors addressed many procedural, legal, and administrative issues that impact the adjudication of criminal cases. “This workshop was effective in addressing and finding solutions to some of the most prominent challenges encountered in cases between the Judiciary and Prosecutors. Due to the lack of clarity in certain legal provisions in the Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Law, there is an absence in some procedures to govern the relationship between the courts and prosecution,” stated Judge Assaf.

At the conclusion of the workshop, the prosecutors and judges developed concrete recommendations to deal with their most common challenges in order to ensure efficiency and effectiveness of work between the two critical justice sector parties. Some recommedations call for formalizing regular coordination meetings between the Chief Judges and Chief Prosecutors in the districts as well other concrete actions to improve the flow of information and processing of cases between the two institutions.

 

Improving Cooperation Between the Courts and Public Prosecution in the West Bank

November 2016

Tetra Tech’s INL-funded Justice Sector Assistance Project IV has supported workshops at district and national level to promote effective collaboration between these two critical justice sector actors

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Improving cooperation among the courts, public prosecution, and other justice sector stakeholders has been a long-standing priority of the Tetra Tech’s Justice Sector Assistance Project (JSAP) IV, funded by the US State Department Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. The project has facilitated regular meetings among district-level chief prosecutors, chief judges, and their staffs to improve investigative teamwork and case processing.

On August 1-2, 2016, JSAP helped elevate this cooperation to the national level by hosting a workshop to address key challenges to cooperation between the public prosecution and the judiciary. Organized in coordination with the High Judicial Council (HJC) and the attorney general's office, the workshop was led by Jordanian judge and JSAP expert Mustafa Al-Assaf. Participants included the Attorney General and HJC Secretary General as well as chief judges and prosecutors from all of the West Bank governorates.

Speaking at the workshop, Attorney General Ahmed Barrak underlined the importance of strengthening cooperation to improve delivery of justice and the rule of law for Palestinian citizens. Over the course of the workshop, judges and prosecutors addressed many procedural, legal, and administrative issues that affect the adjudication of criminal cases. During the workshop, the prosecutors and judges developed concrete recommendations, including the formalization of regular coordination meetings between district-level chief judges and chief prosecutors and other specific actions to improve the flow of information and speed case processing between the two institutions. In the words of Judge Assaf, “[The] workshop was effective in addressing and finding solutions to some of the most prominent challenges encountered … between the judiciary and prosecutors.”


 

Tetra Tech’s Justice Sector Assistance Project Implements Case Automation System in the West Bank

August 2016

The Mizan case management system has greatly improved case management

Tetra Tech’s Justice Sector Assistance Project (JSAP) IV, funded by the US State Department Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), has completed customization of the Mizan electronic case management system to improve case processing and help automate workflow at the Military Justice Commission (MJC) in the West Bank. The MJC is responsible for prosecuting crimes committed by security personnel and overseeing the military’s judges, prisons, prosecutions, and administration. JSAP previously implemented the Mizan case automation system at the public prosecution offices and courts.

West_Bank_JSAP_Supported_Mizan_Case_Automation_System_Transforms_MJC_OperationsAs a direct result of JSAP efforts, all MJC offices across the West Bank – including MJC headquarters, prosecution offices, and courts – are using the Mizan case automation system to manage and track casework for the first time. MJC staff and administrators are also using the system to record court hearings and decisions, while the MJC attorney general’s office is using it to electronically transfer cases to the courts. Prior to JSAP assistance, all cases were manually managed using handwritten registries and there was no way to generate data or statistics.

MJC Information Technology (IT) Supervisor Maj. Ibrahim Hajjaj expressed his satisfaction with the system: “Mizan helped standardize MJC work operations and set a technological framework that make[s] our work easier and improve[s] staff productivity. Mizan also help[s] in making case files available at all military justice facilities in addition to providing a sound environment to ensure integrity and transparency in work.”

With a keen eye on sustainability, JSAP has extensively trained the entire MJC IT team of nine IT specialists on data center management and on Mizan implementation, use, and development.

 

Improving Police Investigations With Crime Scene Investigation Kits in the West Bank

August 2016

Tetra Tech’s Justice Sector Assistance Project provided crime scene kits to the Palestinian Civil Police to improve forensic evidence collection and strengthen prosecutions

To improve the forensic capacity of the Palestinian Civil Police (PCP), Tetra Tech’s INL-funded Justice Sector Assistance Project (JSAP IV) recently procured 15 advanced crime scene investigation (CSI) kits for the 11 PCP district offices, the Fingerprints Department at PCP Headquarters, and the Jericho Police Training Academy. With JSAP support, crime scene and forensic evidence teams in various districts are also receiving training and mentoring on use of the kits, which consist of chemicals, cameras, and advanced CSI tools and equipment. The proper use of these kits is expected to vastly improve the PCP’s capacity to conduct investigations and collect evidence, which will in turn reduce the number of confession-based prosecutions.

Snapshot_1Assistant Police Chief Brig. Gen. Abdel Jabbar Burqan of the Criminal Investigation Division stressed the importance of the kits in combating crime and in helping to build more solid criminal investigation files in accordance with international standards. He stated, “We are constantly seeking to develop the skills and capabilities of our personnel in handling the crime scene and forensic evidence and we look for the best training and most advanced tools to carry out this work. It is important not only to have possession of this equipment but to also have professional technical teams in place that can properly collect forensic evidence at the crime scene to protect it from damage or loss.” The ultimate goal of JSAP’s efforts in this area is to serve Palestinian citizens and promote justice by helping to ensure that criminal prosecutions are grounded in solid forensic evidence.

 

Young Jamaican Entrepreneur Supported By Tetra Tech Project

July 2016

Devon Thomas is one of many youths who have benefitted from the USAID-funded community program.

One year ago, 25-year-old Devon Thomas never dreamed he would be single-handedly managing a business bottling and selling honey to his southeastern Jamaican community of Mount Charles. Looking back, the young entrepreneur related some of the hurdles he faced when he began keeping bees: “My main challenge was not having the money to buy gear and equipment. I started out by catching bees in the wild and asking my friend who is a carpenter to make the boxes for me. Because I didn’t have the veil needed to catch the bees, I got a lot of stings in the beginning.”

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The husband and father quit his construction job and joined a local program, Bee Busy for Youth, attending classes on the theory and practice of bee-keeping. Devon and 24 other youths between the ages of 17 and 29 benefitted from the course, which was facilitated by Jamaica’s Rural Agriculture Development Authority and funded by the Tetra Tech’s USAID Community Empowerment and Transformation Project, Phase II.

Program coordinator Clive Hawthorne was not surprised when the young man he had mentored went on to expand his business. “From the beginning Devon showed a lot of interest and passion for bee-keeping. And, although he lacked formal training and knowledge, we could tell that he had a natural talent and love for what he was doing.”

Devon shared with us his marketing strategy to scale up his business: “I have a lot of mango trees where I keep the bees, so when they take the nectar from the trees the honey comes out with a slight mango taste. Because of that, people seem to love it and so I market my honey that way and make more money from it.”

Bee-keeping is one of Jamaica’s great investment prospects. The Ministry of Agriculture has projected that the bee-keeping industry could generate an estimated 1 billion Jamaican dollars in earnings from honey production in 2015. Devon Thomas has joined a corps of youths revolutionizing Jamaica’s economic growth through agriculture. But at the end of the day, his motivation is simple: “I want to be able to provide for me and my family doing something that I love.”


 

 

Tetra Tech Uses Mobile Communication Technology to Improve Assistance for Crime Victims in Mexico

June 2016

Using a messaging application, state commissioners across Mexico are working together to provide services to crime victims and their families. 

In 2008, constitutional reform efforts in Mexico led to changes in the country’s criminal justice system, including an increasing emphasis on assisting crime victims. Under the General Law for Victims and related state laws, individuals who suffer any damage, injury, or violation of their rights as a result of crime are entitled to the protection, service, and assistance of their government. The legislation also established independently-run State Executive Commissions for Victims’ Assistance (CEEAVs), which are currently operating in 16 of Mexico’s 32 states.

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The CEEAVs were created at different times with the support of their respective state governments. Before the intervention of Tetra Tech’s USAID Promoting Justice program (PROJUST), the CEEAVs did not directly engage in any coordination or official communication. As the commissioner from Nuevo Leon noted, “For cases where a victim from another state required CEEAV assistance and services, we had to first verify whether the state actually had a CEEAV and then try to make contact with the institution.”

In December 2015, PROJUST helped to organize a meeting of the state commissioners of Nuevo Leon, Coahuila, Jalisco, Michoacan, and San Luis Potosi, together with representatives of the states of Oaxaca and Quintana Roo. The purpose of the meeting was move toward adopting the project-designed CEEAV operations management model as a critical element to ensuring their sustainability. During the meeting, the state commissioners put forth the new idea of creating a national network of CEEAVs and formed a group to communicate with each other directly using a mobile messaging platform. The ability to instantly communicate has furthered the CEEAVs’ collaboration, strength, and unity, allowing them to work cohesively as contemplated the 2008 legislation.

The CEEAV network recently proved its utility following prison unrest in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon. One morning, a clash between inmates broke out in the Topo Chico prison, leading to 49 casualties. The Nuevo Leon CEEAV provided direct aid to victims’ families, specifically by assigning a legal advisor to monitor all Topo Chico cases, covering expenses associated with the funerals, coordinating with government agencies, and providing professional psychological services. Meanwhile, the newly-formed CEEAV network reached out to the families of the deceased, who were located in several different states, providing a venue for immediate communication and support services. The Coahuila CEEAV provided support to the families of two victims, and the Morelos and Zacatecas CEEAVs supported one family each. Without the network’s strong collaboration, the families would have been vulnerable to “re-victimization” – where they feel maltreated by the bureaucratic response or lack of government response – a phenomenon that has become all too common in similar tragedies.

The Topo Chico response is a promising sign for the long-term viability of the CEEAVs given the network’s effectiveness in solving jurisdictional challenges and coordinating CEEAV efforts across multiple states.