March 2018

JSSP assists the Criminal Procedure Code Working Group to draft new Law on Alternatives to Incarceration and Alternatives to Detention

Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) provisions enacted by the Afghan Parliament in 2014 prevented effective implementation of Alternatives to Incarceration (ATI) in Afghanistan.   The 2014 provisions gave the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) exclusive authority for sentencing adult offenders to ATI and proved contentious. Multiple justice institutions contended that those provisions undermined the judiciary by empowering an executive branch ministry to decide on sentences for convicted persons rather than the judge who presided at trial, and, therefore, violated the separation of powers principle of the Constitution.  It was deemed that a new Law on ATI and Alternatives to Detention (ATD) was needed to correct the issue.

In early 2016, the MOJ tasked the Criminal Procedure Code Working Group (CPCWG) to draft a new ATI/ATD law.  As the secretariat to the CPCWG, JSSP provided substantial legislative drafting assistance to the CPCWG as it drafted the 75-article law, and on December 26, 2017, JSSP and MOJ Taqnin (the MOJ legislative drafting office) representatives met with the Senior Legal Advisor to the MOJ to present the final draft of the Law on ATI/ATD.

The draft law resolves constitutional objections to the 2014 CPC by transferring authority for alternative sentencing from the MOJ to the courts.  The law also provides new protections for juveniles and creates Afghanistan’s first alternative sentencing regime for adult offenders such as home confinement and probation.  The draft law is a major step toward achieving several INL objectives, including ensuring laws are constitutional, mitigating prison’s harmful effects on low-level offenders, reducing prison overcrowding, and enhancing protections for women, children and vulnerable groups. The MOJ Senior Legal Advisor thanked JSSP for its rigorous efforts on the draft, and MOJ leadership is now reviewing the draft law in preparation for the Council of Ministers’ approval.

March 2018

SRYN conducts awareness raising activity with young women to protect them from human rights abuses.

Incest and rape are all too common in Myanmar, and cases often go unreported. The Sagaing Region Youth Network (SRYN), with support from a grant provided by Tetra Tech’s Promoting the Rule of Law Project (PRLP), is combatting sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) with awareness raising activities that inform citizens of their rights and helps them access protection mechanisms. SRYN, established in 2012 in Monywa, conducts regular lectures discussing legal protections and penalties for child abuse. SRYN’s other activities include a billboard campaign about child rape cases in both rural and urban areas of Monywa, distributing informational booklets, and offering a legal hotline for victims to access information directly when they need it most. SRYN is also providing free legal representation for women and children who suffer these human rights abuses.

Recently, SRYN supported Nyein Myat*, a 12-year old girl who was a victim of incest. She is from a divorced family and was living with her father who repeatedly raped her. Nyein Myat struggled under these heinous conditions and dropped out of primary school. After suffering for more than a year, she confided in her mother and a neighbor about the incest. Her mother filed a case with the police, and after learning about the services of SRYN, she requested legal representation to assist her daughter. SRYN provided a lawyer who helped Nyein Myat understand the legal process and how to be an effective witness. After numerous court sessions, the father was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Thanks in large part to SRYN’s assistance and legal aid lawyer, Nyein Myat is free from her father’s sexual abuse. Her experience will encourage other victims to report their abuse, knowing they will be supported by organizations such as SRYN. SRYN continues to conduct community awareness events in targeted locations such as high schools, and has installed billboards near hostels where many women and girls reside.

Rape victims often feel disenfranchised, lacking knowledge of their rights and facing cultural norms that prevent them from reporting their abuse. The people of Myanmar are increasingly more willing to report abuse cases to civil society organizations (CSOs), knowing they will receive both legal and social support. PRLP continues to support capacity development of CSOs, through grants and technical assistance, to enhance access to justice and to protect the human rights of Myanmar citizens, especially vulnerable groups such as children.

* Represents fake names to protect the identity of individuals who have shared their stories.

March 2018

The training brought together all anti-money laundering partners including judges, prosecutors, financial analysts and the police

To heighten the understanding of investigation and prosecution of money laundering crimes, five leading partners including Tetra Tech’s INL-funded Justice Sector Assistance Project (JSAP) program came together to conduct a two-day training (November 19-20, 2017) for 26 prosecutors, judges, police and financial analysts focusing on money laundering cases. Other participants included the European Union Coordinating Office for Palestinian Police Support (EUPOL COPPS), the United States Agency for International Development’s Enhanced Palestinian Justice Program, the Financial Follow-up Unit (FFU) and the Attorney General’s Office (AGO).

The training was opened and facilitated by Antonio Pastore, Prosecution Expert for EUPOL COPPS; Najat Brigui, Chief Prosecutor at the AGO’s Economic Crimes Unit; Wael Lafi, Director of the FFU and Emery Adoradio, JSAP’s Chief of Team (COT). The facilitators each presented case studies of actual money laundering cases from Palestine, Italy and the United States.

The training was hailed as a success for bringing together all the key anti-money laundering stakeholders and presenting a best practice model in donor-beneficiary cooperation. Chief Prosecutor Brigui stated, “This event is exceptional as it brings together all parties in money laundering cases to discuss the unification of concepts, best practices, and the requirements for building an integrated and complete case that can be presented before the judiciary.”

The FFU Director stressed that, “No party can investigate and prosecute money laundering crimes alone.” He further highlighted the significance of this training as an opportunity for joint action in the fight against money laundering offences, which in the end deprives offenders of benefiting from the proceeds of crime. JSAP’s COT applauded the participation of donor agencies and Palestinian stakeholders. He also emphasized the importance of discussing local jurisdictional issues in money laundering cases.

At the end of the training, the participants developed recommendations for prosecution and investigation of money laundering cases and future steps necessary to develop law enforcement capacity in combating these crimes.

Abdel-Rahman Hussein, Conciliation Judge in Jenin stated, “Through the training, the money laundering investigation and prosecution process was clarified.” Another participant, Needa’ Hasheesh, a Financial Analyst in the FFU stated, “The training was excellent and I learned new information on the process that the public prosecution follows to manage cases until a verdict is issued by the court. The practical exercises on cases from the U.S. and Italy were definitely an added value as money laundering transcends borders and as cases are similar everywhere despite differences in money laundering laws.”

 

March 2018

MKLDO conducts awareness raising activities to combat TIP.

Mawk Kon Local Development Organization (MKLDO) is working to combat trafficking in persons (TIP) in Myanmar, especially among vulnerable ethnic groups near the borders with Thailand and China. With grant funding from Tetra Tech’s Promoting the Rule of Law Project (PRLP), MKLDO is building capacity of youth and community leaders to address trafficking issues and promote knowledge of safe migration. They are also conducting situational analysis on migration and trafficking trends in the region.

MKLDO recently assisted a local family to find their daughter who had been trafficked to China. In 2016, Yamin*, an ethnic Larhu woman, was enticed to go to China and work in a tea factory. For over a year, Yamin’s parents had no contact with her. After hearing about the services offered by MKLDO through local community awareness events, they reached out for help to find their daughter.

MKLDO provided several avenues of support, including the use of social media platform WeChat to gather information and contact their daughter. Eventually, her parents reached Yamin and learned that she had been trafficked to China by her aunt. With the help of MKLDO, her parents successfully reported the case to the Anti-Trafficking Task Force (ATTF) of Kyaing Tong Township. The ATTF arrested the perpetrator and began the process to repatriate Yamin. She is currently awaiting handover by the Chinese authorities and will soon be reunited with her family.

This TIP incident is just one of many that occurs along the borders of Myanmar and is a good example of why awareness is so important to prevent further abuses of human rights. MKLDO is helping vulnerable populations learn about safe migration and be aware of the pitfalls that can lead to trafficking. Without the services of MKLDO, Yamin might never have been found and the perpetrator never arrested. This community-based assistance is proving effective direct services and advocacy where they are most needed.

MKLDO continues to engage in a community-coordinated approach that brings together police, civil society, the Department of Social Welfare, and other government agencies to provide a comprehensive approach in combatting TIP. With grant funding from PRLP, MKLDO provides the assistance necessary to protect human rights and ensure more responsive and accountable government actions for the Myanmar people.

* Represents fake names to protect the identities of those mentioned in this story.

 

March 2018

Dar Al-Amal ‘house of hope’ is the only juvenile center serving boys in the West Bank

Tetra Tech’s INL-funded Justice Sector Assistance Project (JSAP) has been playing a key role in strengthening the Palestinian juvenile justice sector through training programs for prosecutors, judges and police assigned to juvenile cases. The project has diligently worked to develop case management automation systems to help track juvenile cases, and during the summer of 2017, project staff supported a study tour to the United States with participation of key Palestinian juvenile justice stakeholders, nine of whom joined from the Attorney General’s Office/Public Prosecution Offices, the High Judicial Council, Palestinian Civil Police and the Ministry of Social Development.

Upon their return, JSAP was informed by Tetra Tech that they were recipients of an honorable mention in the Bi-Annual Tetra Tech DPK Davis Award contest, which is awarded to projects that have demonstrated innovative approaches to achieve client and project objectives. Having taken away some best practices during the study tour and believing in the importance of creating a safe and healthy environment for juveniles, the team immediately opted to donate the $500 award prize to the Dar Al-Amal Juvenile Rehabilitation Center.

Dar Al-Amal (“House of Hope”) Juvenile Rehabilitation Center is the only juvenile center serving boys in the West Bank (there is separate facility serving girls). Dar Al-Amal, managed by the Palestinian Ministry of Social Affairs, is located in Ramallah and serves 7 to 25 boys ages 13 to 17 at any given time pending the adjudication of their cases.

The Director of the center, Basel Abuzayda stated, “Dar Al-Amal always strives to improve the educational process for juveniles through the use of technology in learning and teaching. As promoting education is the main pillar of our organization, with support from JSAP, we helped equip our learning room by providing installation of gypsum boards and painting. The renovation of the learning room was carried out by the organization's children, in cooperation with volunteers from the National Security Forces.”

Tetra Tech is enthusiastic that JSAP chose to further promote the improvement of the center with their award.

 

March 2018

Members and clients of TCDN share their experience in combatting TIP with PRLP personnel.

Trafficking in persons (TIP) is a reality that many vulnerable people in Myanmar face, especially along the border with Thailand. Many people, seeking legitimate jobs, cross the border only to find themselves caught up in a criminal enterprise. Thwee Community Development Network (TCDN), through a grant from Tetra Tech’s Promoting the Rule of Law Project (PRLP), is combatting TIP through awareness raising activities, protection measures, and victim support services in Myawaddy Township.

One of their clients, Aye Aye Than*, spent nine years working illegally in a factory in Thailand for a promised salary of $225 per month, which was seldom paid in full. She often worked from 1 a.m. to 8 p.m. and was beaten for being sleepy at work. Aye Aye Than values the information and assistance provided by TCDN, which focuses on the same situations she experienced. After TCDN training, she now shares information about safe migration, problems faced by illegal workers, and procedures for traveling legally to young people who are seeking to migrate. Aye Aye Than said, “If I had received this kind of training before, I would have avoided the troubles I faced in Thailand. I don’t want other people to suffer like me, so I share what I learned from the training to young people in my village.”

Another client, Moe Kaung*, was exploited by being sold from one broker to another. After being transported to various locations at night and hid in the daytime, he was sold to work on a fishing boat, which was continuously guarded. Moe Kaung, was held as a prisoner, never being allowed to leave the boat even when in port. He is now an active volunteer in his community, sharing information about TIP and human rights. Moe Kaung said, “Today in my village, people are more informed and more prepared about working in Thailand. They know how to protect themselves from being exploited.”  

TCDN is collaborating with various government officials and community organizations to protect victims and provide services such as counseling and safe houses. They conduct advocacy meetings and workshops with township level government officials and distribute awareness raising materials. Also, they conducted a commemoration of the signing of the Myanmar Anti-Trafficking in Persons Law, bringing together the community and government to discuss how to best assist victims and protect others from falling prey to this abuse. With support from PRLP, TCDN continues to provide a more inclusive and responsive approach to addressing human rights abuses.

* Represents fake names to protect the individuals who have told their stories.

March 2018

First nursery registration completed online using the new e-service on the MOSD web portal on February 8, 2018

On February 8, 2018, Mr. Abdullah Al-Khatib became the first beneficiary of the Nursery Center Registration e-Service at the Ministry of Social Development (MOSD) West Amman Directorate. The new e-service, developed with support from Tetra Tech’s USAID-funded Rule of Law Program (ROLP), significantly streamlines the process for citizens who would like to open a nursery center for business.   Mr. Al-Khatib remarked, “I was thrilled by the fast response of this user-friendly system while completing the required information. It provides the full requirements list for registering a nursery center, applicant eligibility criteria, and instructions to upload documents on the web portal. Not only is the registration process easier, but the public has better access to information by providing registration requirements in a centralized place on the internet.”

The Nursery Center Registration e-Service offers many improvements to prospective applicants. First, it serves as an online hub for all requisite approvals from the involved government entities, including the Civil Defense Directorate, Greater Amman Municipality, Ministry of Health Ministry of Public Works and Housing, and Municipalities. Prior to the development of this e-service, Jordanian citizens and other service beneficiaries had to visit each public entity involved in their business registration for written approvals, a process requiring an enormous amount of time and effort. Second, the e-service system accelerates the registration process by providing fill-in data options. Mr. Al-Khatib shared that when he entered his national ID number, the system automatically recognized him and auto-filled much of his personal data, which saved him time in completing his application.

Third, a user can assign a delegate to assist with completing the application if the user resides outside of Jordan or cannot continue to follow on the registration process for any reason. In Mr. Al-Khatib’s case, this functionality provided great benefit to him. He marveled, “I’m delighted that during my time in Saudi Arabia, my younger brother, who I assigned as a delegate, was able to follow up on any missing information and documents for the application. I also could track the status of my application completion and submission on the MOSD’s web portal remotely from Saudi Arabia.”  

At the beginning of 2017, the MOSD, with ROLP’s support, initiated the development of an integrated web portal that will include numerous e-services for the public alongside the Nursery Center Registration. The overall aim is to strengthen the MOSD’s performance, accountability, and public service delivery by transitioning from a largely manual, paper system to a modern, automated one.

 

March 2018

The Code of Ethics meets international standards and helps set guidelines of conduct for Public Prosecutors

To improve transparency and accountability in Public Prosecution work, Tetra Tech’s INL-funded Justice Sector Assistance Project (JSAP) supported the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) to develop and implement a Prosecutor’s Code of Ethics (COE) that meets international standards. The code addresses the independence and impartiality of prosecutors, professional behavior, rights of suspects, and conflicts of interest. JSAP provided an international consultant to work with an AGO-appointed Code of Ethics Committee to refine and finalize articles of the code. Upon official approval by Attorney General Ahmad Barrack, the project conducted a Training of Trainers (ToT) for COE committee members so they can in turn effectively conduct awareness dissemination sessions on the code for all Public Prosecutors across the West Bank.

The first COE awareness session was held in Ramallah on January 28, 2018 with the participation of 28 Prosecutors and was facilitated by COE committee members. Addressing the session, the Attorney General thanked JSAP for support in this area and highlighted the importance of adhering to the Code of Ethics, which sets out the standards of conduct and practice expected from Prosecutors to enhance the accountability process. “This code meets our current and future needs,” stated the Attorney General who stressed that ethical conduct is just as important as technical and legal skills of prosecutors. Also addressing the session, JSAP’s Chief of Team, Emery Adoradio, noted, “Part of the challenge is to know when there is an ethical issue. Our exercises today will help spot these issues as there is actual impropriety and then there is the appearance of impropriety. Appearance of impropriety is as important as actual impropriety.”

Prosecutors taking part in this session have largely hailed the importance of the COE and awareness sessions. “This was one of the most important sessions that I have taken part in, and it is a must that all Public Prosecutors take part in these sessions to learn more about items that are punishable by law and the actions of prosecutors— to see what is allowed and what is prohibited. Through this session we also learned to pay attention to some behaviors that may be ordinary but show an appearance of impropriety,” stated Majdi Qurei, a Public Prosecutor in Jericho.

Mahmoud Abdel Karim, a Public Prosecutor in Ramallah, also stated: “This session was an added value for me on both a personal and professional level. The session helped clarify key issues related to prejudice on the job and exploitation of the position to achieve personal gains as well as how to ensure respect for human rights and protection of public freedoms.”

In coordination with the AGO, JSAP will facilitate a total of six awareness sessions that will be held in various geographic areas across the West Bank.

February 2018

Citizens provided first-hand accounts of their experience with corruption and bribery to highlight the impact on an individual’s human rights and help participants understand the wide-ranging ramifications.


Every year, $1 trillion is paid in bribes and an estimated $2.6 trillion is stolen annually through corruption worldwide, representing more than 5% per cent of global GDP. Corruption undermines democracy, governance, and human rights. In Myanmar, the effects of corruption are acutely felt by indigenous populations and women. Their geographic and social exclusion results in a lack of access to legal protections that are only compounded by the effects of corruption.

The Access to Justice Initiative (A2JI), with support from Tetra Tech’s USAID-funded Promoting the Rule of Law Project (PRLP), is working to address these challenges in Myanmar. A2JI, a consortium of more than 40 civil society organizations, is advocating for structural and policy reforms, including a focus on combatting corruption. In addition to regular awareness and training activities, A2JI conducted two events in recognition of International Anti-Corruption Day on Dec. 9th. This year’s theme was United Against Corruption for Development, Peace, and Security.

PRLP and A2JI conducted a panel discussion with 87 participants, bringing together civil society, Members of Parliament (MPs), and government officials. Panelists included the Chief Minister of Magway Region, MPs from the Hluttaw and Yangon Region, representatives from the Yangon Regional Rule of Law Coordination Body, and other regional officials. Citizens provided concrete examples of their experience with corruption in Myanmar and panelists discussed corruption issues, particularly in the justice sector, and took questions from the audience. This event sought to build connections between CSOs and the government and to provide a forum for advocacy against corrupt practices.

A2JI also conducted a public awareness raising event in Mahabandula Park, which included interactive games, a quiz show, entertainment, informational materials, and releasing balloons with slogans about combatting corruption. More than 250 people participated in the event, which was opened by U Maung Hla, Director General from the Anti-Corruption Commission. A Member of Parliament, Daw Kyi Pyar, and the A2JI Chair, U Nyi Aung, provided remarks to encourage citizens to take an active role in combatting corruption. These activities are building the capacity of CSOs to engage in public policy development and advocacy, as well as to promote more accountable justice sector institutions that protect human rights.

 

February 2018

A2JI members participate in training of trainers, increasing their capacity to raise awareness and promote advocacy in their communities

The Access to Justice Initiative (A2JI), with support from Tetra Tech’s USAID-funded Promoting the Rule of Law Project (PRLP), is working to combat corruption in Myanmar. A2JI, a consortium of more than 40 civil society organizations, is advocating for structural and policy reforms, including a focus on combatting corruption. Corruption, including bribes and stolen resources, amounts to an estimated 5% of the global gross domestic product, with developing countries losing up to 50% of public revenue to the “shadow economy.” Corruption undermines democracy, governance, and human rights, and perpetuates the inequities experienced by women, poor, and indigenous populations.

As a follow up to their recent roundtable discussions with Parliamentarians and two events on International Anti-Corruption Day, PRLP supported A2JI’s intention to roll out a series of trainings on community engagement against corruption with a training of trainers (TOT) for 13 focal points and steering committee members. A2JI members from various locations including Shan, Mandalay, Mawlamyaing, Rakhine, Taninthayi, Rangon, and Bagoee completed the 3-day TOT, led by an international expert, in January 2018. The training explored forms of corruption defined in the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and in the Myanmar context, examining recent reforms as well as gaps in the current legislative framework. Participants also learned how corruption disparately impacts women and other underserved segments of society, and developed approaches to promoting citizen engagement in combatting corruption.

Participants further learned how to strategically design and implement trainings that help citizens recognize corruption and motivate them to resist it through various approaches. Using a variety of hypothetical situations, participants developed a more nuanced understanding of corruption, distinguishing intentional abuse of power with inadvertent errors by public officials, legal loopholes, and how to adapt their responses to achieve the most productive and lasting solutions. Participants discussed techniques such as refusing to pay bribes and reporting incidents of corruption, conducting public information and/or advocacy campaigns, participating in public hearings, and promoting transparency through monitoring.

The TOT resulted in a model curriculum that the A2JI focal points can deliver in their respective regions, building society’s capacity to fight corruption, engage in public policy development, and promote more accountable justice sector institutions that protect human rights.

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