News & Resources

USAID Project Revitalizes Community Organization in East Timor

June 2016

The Tetra Tech-implemented Ba Distrito Project has built community capacity to provide legal aid services and attract funding from international donors.

A local organization in Oecusse, East Timor, has partnered with Tetra Tech’s USAID Ba Distrito (“To the Districts”) Project and flourished, after nearly closing due to institutional and financial weakness. With the project’s support, Fundaçao Fatuk Sinae Oecusse (FFSO) now provides free legal aid assistance to poor and vulnerable populations, conducts legal information sessions in remote aldeias (communities) and sucos (villages), and coordinates legal aid services with other relevant organizations.

ffso_dev_assessmentBa Distrito provides FFSO with direct support, such as grants, capacity building activities and equipment, and technical assistance on administration, finance, and case management. FFSO Executive Director Antonio dos Remedios credits the project with his organization’s ability to attract additional donor support because of its enhanced institutional capacity: “We are recently being funded by Oxfam to gather data from … communities…. This would not have been possible had Ba Distrito not supported us in making our organization stronger after it nearly collapsed …..” He further explained, “If USAID’s Ba Distrito project had not supported FFSO, our conditions would have become worse, making our organization unattractive to donor programs. Ba Distrito helped keep us afloat ….[T]he technical support and capacity building activities in areas of facilitation skills, narrative and financial report writing, case management, and administration ma[de] FFSO a stronger organization.

Photo: FFSO participating in a 3-day organizational development assessment conducted by USAID’s Ba Distrito Project 



 

Tetra Tech Project Partners with Timorese Organization to Train Community Leaders on Access to Justice and Women’s Rights

May 2016

The USAID Ba Distrito (“To the Districts”) project aims to increase institutional and human capacity at the local level and to deliver basic services as part of a wider vision of improved decentralized governance and access to justice in East Timor.

The Justice System Monitoring Program (JSMP) is a leading Timorese organization, focused on issues of justice and the rule of law, which has partnered with the USAID-funded Ba Distrito project since shortly after startup. With implementation support from Tetra Tech, JSMP successfully trained the members of 100 suco (village) councils in Baucau, Covalima, Ermera, Liquiçá, and Oecusse on access to justice and women’s rights.

JSMP Executive Director Luis Oliveira Sampaio described the significance of the initiative: “The partnership between JSMP and USAID’s Ba Distrito is unique compared to its partnership with other donors. It allows JSMP, for the first time since it was established, to deliver training to members of 100 suco councils on topics which are very important to them as local authorities, and the community as a whole. The suco council training on access to justice and women’s rights is crucial because suco council members are influential and play important an important role in supporting their communities to access justice.”

Over 260 suco council members and their representatives attended the trainings, including over 100 women. The administrator of Suco Zulo of Zumalai expressed his satisfaction: “I am very content with training on important topics such as access to justice and women’s rights. During the occupation, we used to get shot for asking to know our rights. Now Timor-Leste is an independent and democratic country, we need to know our rights and responsibilities.”

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Photo (L): JSMP suco council training held in Maubara post administration of Liquiçá municipality

Photo (R): JSMP Executive Director Mr. Luis Oliveira Sampaio provided his thoughts on the impact of JSMP's partnership with Ba Distrito in an interview with local media


 


 

Supporting Myanmar’s Paralegal Community

May 2016

Tetra Tech is building the legal skills of Myanmar’s paralegals– a new but growing community.

Since its inception, Tetra Tech’s USAID-funded Promoting the Rule of Law Project (PRLP) has been working with justice sector actors in Myanmar to create a sustainable and inclusive justice environment. PRLP support includes developing transparent and accountable systems to process cases in courts, providing programs to improve the lawyering skills of legal aid providers, and equipping prosecutors with necessary critical case analysis skills. The project later expanded its scope to include paralegals in this process.

In developing countries around the world, paralegals play a critical role in guaranteeing access to justice for marginalized populations. Working at the grassroots level, they are often among the few resources for people with limited means when they need to interact with the legal system, for example to file documents with local authorities to demonstrate land ownership.

Paralegals are a relatively new phenomenon in Myanmar. In October 2015, PRLP and Namati, a US-based legal empowerment program, mapped the paralegal presence in the country. Although only about 300 paralegals were estimated to be active nationwide, many were working in remote areas where some of Burma’s most underserved communities live. To bolster the effectiveness of their services, PRLP teamed up with Namati to deliver a multi-day training course for paralegals in remote Sagaing Region and Chin State. Topics included Myanmar’s legal framework, legal writing, and negotiation. PRLP repeated the course in the Ayeyarwaddy Region in advance of its more recent work with Namati to develop a national paralegal network focused on professional development and advocacy and on creating networking opportunities for the country’s paralegal community. Through these activities, Tetra Tech is helping underserved populations throughout the country access the national justice system.


 

Tetra Tech Helps Palestinian Police Implement Crime Scene First Responder Training

April 2016

Justice Sector Assistance Project is training Crime Scene First Responder Officers at the Jericho Police Academy on how to process crime scenes

Following a request by the Palestinian Civil Police (PCP) under the INL-funded Justice Sector Assistance Project IV (JSAP IV), Tetra Tech has developed and helped conduct training courses to enable PCP first responders to protect crime scenes from contamination. Prior to these interventions, the PCP lacked a clear understanding of proper first responder responsibilities and procedures in processing crime scenes.

JSAP IV developed the training materials based on international best practices, carefully tailoring them to the Palestinian context. It then supported the PCP in conducting several training sessions to raise awareness of first responder duties and proper crime scene processing. Key topics covered in the trainings included the importance of reaching the crime scene quickly to collect and process evidence, drafting the first responder report, and transferring evidence to crime scene investigators and the Public Prosecutor’s Office. The training also addressed the processing of more complex crime scenes and the use of advanced forensic techniques.pcp_officers_in_crime_scene_training

Many senior PCP officials and training participants noted that they had gained a greater understanding of first responder processes through participating in JSAP IV trainings. Col. Zaher Sabbah, the Police Academy Director, hailed the importance of these training programs in upgrading the PCP’s efficiency and effectiveness. The trainings and materials have proven so successful that they have been incorporated into the accredited training curriculum taught to all current and future Crime Scene First Responder Officers at the Jericho Police Training Academy. To encourage sustainability, JSAP IV is delivering a train-the-trainers program for First Responder Officers in all of the West Bank governorates to supplement the crime scene trainers at the Police Academy. JSAP IV is mentoring these officers as they deliver trainings to ensure they will have the ability to lead training courses successfully after JSAP IV ends.


 

Improving Court Functionality and Legal Aid Representation in a Remote District of East Timor

April 2016

Tetra Tech is supporting a local organization to regularly monitor court services in the district of Oecusse.

Timorese local organization the Justice Sector Monitoring Program (JSMP) has been partnering with Tetra Tech’s USAID-funded Ba Distrito (“To the Districts”) Project to undertake regular monitoring in all courts of first instance in the Oecusse district. The objective of these activities is to use the publication of case summaries, press releases, and thematic reports to support advocacy for improved court functionality and increased access to justice.

JSMP Executive Director, Luis Oliveira Sampaio, expressed his satisfaction with the initiative. “We are thankful to Counterpart International [and subcontractor Tetra Tech] and the Ba Distrito project. With the funds from the Ba Distrito project JSMP was able to place a staff member in Oecusse who monitored the court on a daily basis. Before our partnership with Ba Distrito, we were not able to do this because we did not have a permanent staff assigned to Oecusse, as we did in other district courts.”

With support from Ba Distrito, JSMP published a thematic report on the Oecusse courts in November 2015. The final report is accessible online on the JSMP website. Recognizing that well-functioning courts are essential to the rule of law in a democracy, JSMP plans to continue working with Ba Distrito to monitor courts in Oecusse and throughout East Timor.


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Photo: Presentation of the Oecusse Court Thematic Report in Oecusse


 

National Accolades for Myanmar Grantee and LGBT Advocate

March 2016

The leader of Equality Myanmar/Colors Rainbow, Hla Myat Tun, was named as one of Myanmar’s “Who’s Who” in a leading national publication for his organization’s efforts to advance the rights of LGBT people in Myanmar.

Tetra Tech’s Promoting the Rule of Law Project (PRLP) in Myanmar supports the national government in achieving its goal of bringing transparent and participatory processes to public institutions. Among other activities, PLRP provides grants to local non-governmental organizations with human rights and advocacy programs for citizens. One of the grantees, Equality Myanmar/Colors Rainbow, is implementing a pilot initiative providing case management and legal assistance to members of the LGBT community; conducting human rights training and advocacy at national and regional levels; and creating a documentary film to raise awareness of the issues faced by Myanmar’s LGBT community.

daw aung san suu kyiThe leader of Equality Myanmar/Colors Rainbow, Hla Myat Tun (pictured left), was recently named as one of Myanmar’s “Who’s Who” in the Irrawaddy News, one of the largest print publications in the country. Hla Myat Tun was featured along with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the first State Counselor of Myanmar and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and 14 other high-profile individuals and groups. The article praised Hla Myat Tun’s efforts to advance LGBT rights in Myanmar:

“[He] openly challenged prejudices and discriminatory practices…, demanding equality and acceptance of LGBT persons across Burmese society. He leads an LGBT rights organization, Colors Rainbow, that co-organized Burma’s inaugural LGBT film festival ‘& Proud’, that aimed to create more space for the LGBT community and constructive conversations and engagement among the broader public. The activist has been working together with the country’s Education Ministry to put gender identity and LGBT issues in high school curriculums. He is regarded as among the most prominent advocates on the issue...”

 

First-Ever Training on Fraud for Palestinian Prosecutors

March 2016

Tetra Tech used co-facilitation model to train civil and military prosecutors on fraud.

prosecutor_trainingTetra Tech’s INL-funded Justice Sector Assistance Project (JSAP) has facilitated the first-ever training on fraud for 20 civil and military prosecutors from across the West Bank governorates. The training provided prosecutors with greater knowledge of fraud-related statutes to help them more effectively prosecute such cases, which are on the rise in Palestinian society.

The training was conducted in coordination with the Training Unit at the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) and was co-led by two experts with extensive experience in fraud investigation and prosecution, JSAP Chief of Team Emery Adoradio and Public Prosecution Office Chief Prosecutor Khaled Awwad. The training, which was the first to be co-led by JSAP and the AGO, addressed the theoretical aspects of fraud cases and engaged prosecutors in practical working group exercises to help them gain a better understanding of fraud statutes.

During the opening session, Attorney General Ahmad Barrak thanked JSAP for organizing the event: “We want to benefit as much as we can from this training. We need to examine fraud in Palestinian laws as this is an important crime to understand in this day and age.” Iyad Jarrar, assistant public prosecutor for Jenin, added, “The training was outstanding and aided us in classifying and clarifying fraud cases.”

The AGO plans to build on the joint trainings and eventually conduct them on its own. “JSAP has been able to improve the quality of curricula by localizing case scenarios and establishing a sustainable model for future trainings to be conducted solely by the AGO,” said AGO Director of Planning Yasser Hammad.

 

US Expert Shares Disability Advocacy Strategies with Ivoirian Governmental and NGO Partners

February 2016

American disability expert traveled to Côte d’Ivoire, providing insights from 25 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act to assist the Ivoirian Government with inclusion strategies for citizens with disabilities.

Tetra Tech’s USAID-funded Justice Sector Support Program in Côte d’Ivoire (ProJustice) works alongside governmental and non-governmental partners to improve the efficiency of justice sector operations, train magistrates and court staff, improve access to justice, and educate the population on legal rights. In 2015, USAID awarded ProJustice an additional $598,000 to incorporate disability issues into the program’s activities. With this new funding, the ProJustice Handicap activity was launched.

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Photo (L): American disability expert Susan Scheer with Judge Jean-Baptiste Angaman of the Yopougon Court of First Instance

Photo (R): Ms. Scheer meets with representative of the handicapped community in Bassam

ProJustice Handicap has generated intense interest in the disability community as well as in the Government of Côte d’Ivoire. In connection with the project’s high-level conference on the UN Convention on Persons With Disabilities (which Côte d’Ivoire ratified in 2014 but has not yet implemented), American disability rights expert Susan Scheer spent 10 days sharing experiences with Ivoirian partners. Discussions covered the US Americans With Disabilities Act, advocacy activities, and strategies for institutional and legislative reforms. The connections forged during those discussions had a profound effect on the participants. In the words of Judge Jean-Baptiste Angaman, Côte d’Ivoire’s only judge who uses a wheelchair: “I did not appreciate until now the importance of simultaneously making changes to legislation and institutions while also pursuing an advocacy and public awareness-raising agenda.” He added, “Based on what I have now learned about the experience in the United States, I see that Côte d’Ivoire has a long road ahead, but we are on the right path.”

ProJustice s planning to carry out a survey in several pilot courts to identify barriers to accessing justice for persons with disabilities in Côte d’Ivoire and then tackle them systematically in the coming year.

 


 

Tetra Tech Supports Cross-Agency Information Sharing System for Palestinian Security Forces

January 2016

For the first time, four Palestinian Authority security force (PASF) agencies will be able to access the cumulative knowledge of all security agencies operating in the West Bank, leading to more effective crime-fighting.

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The US Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) and the US Security Coordinator developed a joint Law Enforcement Case Management and Information Sharing Initiative (Epsilon-P) to enhance PASF operations and improve overall security and rule of law in the West Bank. Tetra Tech is assisting with implementation of Epsilon-P under its INL-funded Justice Sector Assistance Project IV (JSAP) in the West Bank, working in partnership with the Public Leadership Institute, a US-based organization with extensive experience developing cross-agency information sharing systems.

Epsilon-P will enable four PASF agencies – the Palestinian Civil Police (PCP), District Coordination Office (DCO), Civil Defense, and Presidential Guard – to access the cumulative knowledge of all PASF agencies operating in the West Bank for the first time, facilitating better use of investigative information about crimes, suspects, and arrests.

Up till now, the PASF have had limited capacity for information sharing, which hampers investigations and case processing. When Epsilon-P is fully operational, it will dramatically reduce the time spent by law enforcement personnel on routine data entry. More broadly, the automation will improve operations as varied as issuing warrants, collecting evidence, using force, and managing informants. Epsilon-P will also help managers formulate more effective crime strategies and will facilitate cooperative investigations.

Leaders from the participating PASF agencies have expressed enthusiasm about Epsilon-P. Col. Aniss Kishko, head of the DCO Planning and Development Unit, stated: "The DCO hopes that the Epsilon initiative will help complete the technological development that the DCO has been aspiring to achieve. This technology will save us time, effort, and cost, as well as provide efficient access to data processing. Sharing data and documents with other security agencies participating in this program will enhance the capacity of law enforcement to combat criminal activities."

To create buy-in, Tetra Tech has led a series of meetings with the PASF agencies. Among the outcomes was the establishment of the Epsilon Leadership Council, an implementing authority that will ensure coordination and information sharing as Epsilon-P is rolled out. The council elected PCP Col. Suliman Al-Khatib to serve as chairman. As Epsilon-P develops and expands, additional PASF agencies are expected to join the initiative, moving toward the eventual creation of a case management and information sharing system for all of the West Bank.

 

Young Boy Becomes an Advocate in the Fight Against Gender-Based Violence in Mexico

January 2016

Tetra Tech’s training course on reducing violence toward women and girls made a big impression on an unlikely participant, inspiring him to take action.

One of the objectives of Tetra Tech’s USAID-funded Promoting Justice Project (PROJUST) in Mexico is to fight gender-based violence (GBV), including through outreach and training. From July to October 2015, PROJUST offered a diploma course entitled “Victims of Gender Violence in the New Criminal Justice System in Mexico” to the staff of Women’s Justice Centers (WJCs) in the cities of Campeche and Torreon. WJCs work to improve access to justice for victims of GBV and reduce violence toward women and girls.

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Although only adults were enrolled in the course, an 11-year-old boy became a surprise participant and fervent advocate for non-violence. Tadeo had tagged along with his mother to the Torreon classes because of a lack of child care, but he became so interested in the subject matter that he made sure not to miss a single day. Declaring that "any type of violence is not good," Tadeo vowed to promote a culture of respect for and non-violence against women.

Not long after Tadeo began attending the course, one of his schoolmates confided in him that his father beat his mother. Tadeo immediately related what he had learned about the WJC and the fight against GBV. With Tadeo’s help, the schoolmate convinced his mother to visit the Torreon WJC, where she soon began receiving assistance and support.

Thirty-one women and 2 men received certificates of completion at the closing ceremony for the Torreon course. Tadeo was surprised and pleased to receive a symbolic certificate as well. PROJUST is continuing offer the diploma course at other WJCs, hoping to inspire more men, women, and youths like Tadeo to join the fight against GBV.