Rita Jen and Ma Khaing are from the village of Kyauk Su village in Mae Sae Township, located just 30 minutes from the Thai-Myanmar border in Kayah State. Rita has a 2 year old child and Ma Khaing has 6 children. In addition to their extensive housekeeping and family responsibilities, they also work as casual agricultural laborers. The Promoting the Rule of Law Project (PRLP) provided a grant to the Kareni National Women Organization (KNWO) to empower women and improve their awareness of gender issues. KNWO works closely with local communities like the village of Kyauk Su to show how their support improves socio-economic conditions and to select participants for their events. Rita Jen and Ma Kahing were two participants selected for a 10-day training of trainers (TOT) program, and subsequently became members of Education and Advocacy Team, designed to improve understanding of women rights and to provide services in the community. A safe house associated with this initative has provided shelter for more than 50 victims of violence.
Rita Jen and Ma Kahing know first-hand about the impact of gender-based violence. Their villages are prone to drug and alcohol abuse, and violence is common place. Many women accepted this behavior as their husband’s right, but after learning how gender based violence impacts families and the community, the women began to know and exert their rights to reduce the violence. Using knowledge learned during the training, Rita Jen and Ma Kahing enlightened relatives and other women, often while working in the agricultural fields or during social events. Women now approach them directly for advice and they have since provided training for 48 villages. The trainings also include men who are now beginning to see the impact of their actions and women are reporting a reduction in violence.
Ma Kahing has supported family members and neighbors to address violence in the family, by confronting perpetrators and educating them on the impact of their actions. She said that “This TOT training is very useful and has opened my eyes to see everything. God has blessed me to be able to save women from bad circumstances.” The benefits of the PRLP grant continue to be felt in the community and to improve the human rights of people in Myanmar.
To help the Palestinian Civil Police (PCP) showcase their recent activities and achievements, the INL-funded Justice Sector Assistance Project (JSAP) proposed and quickly received approval from Police Chief Maj. Gen. Hazem Attallah to produce a public service film to be disseminated through various social media outlets. As the Palestinian public is becoming more technology savvy, the film presents a modern and innovative approach to publicizing PCP successes particularly in the area of information technology (IT) and automation.
Automation efforts at the PCP have been dramatically transformed over the last few years with the help of JSAP and other donors working in the sector. The PCP has automated various management systems including human resources, vehicle tracking, operations, traffic, and enforcement modules, among other systems. For the public, perhaps the most tangible change is the use of the mobile services system by the Traffic Police. JSAP procured 100 hand-held devices that the PCP is now using. Through these devices and a user-friendly interface developed by JSAP IT developers, the police can search on-line 24-hours-a-day by simply entering the ID number of the citizen to see if any given vehicle on the street has the proper registration or if the driver has any outstanding warrants, a valid license, and other information relevant to police work.
As a result of these automation accomplishments, these systems are in the process of being replicated in other Palestinian security services. “We are now working with five other security services to transfer some of these important applications,” said Lt. Col. Suleiman Abu Al Rub, the Director of the IT and Communications Department who also credits INL and JSAP for helping accomplish many of these activities.
These successes lead the JSAP team and Lt. Col. Abu Al Rub to develop the film concept. The JSAP IT team was intricately involved in every step of production including developing the script, directing the shots, filming, final editing and post production and translation. The four-minute film was shot over a two-week period in June 2017 and can be found via this Link. The film has been well received, and JSAP is planning to work with the PCP and other institutions on producing other public outreach films in the future.
Through sponsorship by the INL-funded Justice Sector Assistance Project (JSAP), a delegation of American women representing the justice sector met with Palestinian women judges and prosecutors to share challenges and accomplishments. The meeting provided a unique opportunity for the justice sector representatives to share their experiences as women working in leadership positions in the Palestinian justice sector. JSAP’s Chief of Team, Emery Adoradio made opening remarks during the meeting, thanking the INL, the Palestinian judges, and prosecutors for meeting with the American delegation during a holiday weekend. During his remarks, Mr. Adoradio highlighted the assistance JSAP has provided to the justice sector including the training of women prosecutors, judges, and administrative staff. In 2015 – 2016 JSAP, trained over 110 women justice sector workers.
The American and Palestinian counterparts enjoyed an afternoon of frank and open dialogue. "Meeting with women lawyers and judges was a highlight of my time in the Middle East. I'm grateful to the wonderful staff at JSAP for providing this opportunity. JSAP's work is critical to improve the delivery of justice and advance the rule of law," stated Jaime Hawk, an attorney and delegate for the Center for Women and Democracy.
A common theme addressed by the Palestinian delegation was the challenges they met as women working in the justice sector. The Palestinian prosecutors noted that when women first began to serve as prosecutors, their male colleagues expressed skepticism that women prosecutors would not be suitable to handle homicide cases. The prosecutors and judges had to demonstrate to their male colleagues that they could handle these cases just as well as their male colleagues.
Najwa Abdallah, the Salfit Chief Prosecutor said, “The meeting between American and Palestinian women sponsored by JSAP was truly amazing. We had the unique opportunity to present obstacles and challenges we are facing as Palestinian women working in the justice sector and we were pleased to have a chance to listen to the American experience from our counterparts. We look forward to holding more meetings to share our experiences.”
The Center for Women and Democracy delegation consisted of 12 members, including a number of attorneys, prosecutors, and a former member of the Washington State Supreme Court. The Palestinian delegation consisted of six members including three judges and three chief prosecutors.
Addressing public criticism of excessive delays in processing cases, Palestinian Attorney General Ahmad Barrak has declared that reducing case backlog is a top-level priority for Public Prosecution Offices (PPOs) across the West Bank. To help accomplish this task, the INL-funded Justice Sector Assistance Project (JSAP) has been working closely with six PPOs that serve as JSAP’s Center of Excellence (COE) offices (Ramallah, Jericho, Salfit, Tulkarem, Bethlehem and Nablus) to develop the tools and technology to reduce case backlog. As a result of this effort, case backlog decreased by 62.3% in these six PPOs over the last 12 months.
In cooperation with the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) and COE Chief Prosecutors, JSAP has helped the PPOs institute clear and concrete policies and procedures to implement backlog reduction measures. (See photo left: Nablus Public Prosecutors Elias Dababneh (left) and Ahmad Abu Shanab (center) following up on backlogged case files with JSAP Coordinator Samih Amour).
Project efforts included a careful review and inventory of backlogged files, the creation of forms that summarize the status of each file, defining clear follow-up measures, as well as the establishment of a daily and monthly internal review process for Public Prosecutors and the Chief Public Prosecutor to effectively monitor the case workload. JSAP project coordinators and interns placed throughout these offices have also played a critical role in this effort by supporting PPO administrators and prosecutors.
“Among the most important factors that contributed to the completion and control of backlog was the implementation of JSAP procedures that helped re-distribute the workload among prosecutors and assistant prosecutors in addition to the daily follow-up on investigative procedures and requesting weekly statistics on completed files from each of the prosecutors,” said Bethlehem Chief Prosecutor, Rasem Badawi. He further added that JSAP staff and interns assigned to work with prosecutors on investigative files conducted regular follow-up on in-coming and backlogged files and assisted the PPO clerks in expediting work on these files.
Tulkarem Chief Prosecutor, Miqdad Hattab similarly hailed JSAP’s efforts noting, “As a direct result of JSAP assistance there is a clear and noticeable improvement in the reduction of case backlog. We have made significant progress in reducing the number of backlogged files based on new work procedures that call for further cooperation and coordination with all parties in cases including the PPOs, police and courts, the Forensic Lab, the Judicial Institute and others. Therefore, I would like to express my sincere appreciation for JSAP’s efforts.”
SOn 14 July 2017, the Justice Sector Monitoring Programme (JSMP), with technical support from USAID under the Mai Munisípiu project (formerly Ba Distrito), launched its thematic research report on how the courts (formal justice) consider community dispute resolutions (non-formal justice). The report, titled “Court and Alternative Dispute Resolution”, was completed as part of JSMP’s partnership with Mai Munisípiu project implemented by Counterpart International and Tetra Tech DPK and funded by USAID.
The report was produced based on research and monitoring JSMP conducted in Baucau, Covalima, Dili, and Oecusse District Courts during a five month period (January to May 2017). Throughout the period, JSMP observed and analyzed a total of 108 cases from which 26 were resolved within families/communities before being brought to the court, while 82 cases were conciliated before and by the courts. The report provides a better understanding of how the courts, which administer the formal justice system, consider resolutions of disputes which occurred at the community level in their decision-making process. In giving his observation of the report, the Executive Director of JSMP Mr. Luis Oliveira Sampaio said “the research also found that conciliation that occurred before the court was an important instrument to reduce court caseload.”
The report concludes that although community resolutions have positive aspects that are beneficial to the formal justice system – i.e. minimizing the court workload by solving some of the minor crimes (semipublic crimes), the courts’ consideration of the resolutions should follow the existing laws. “Basically the Office of Prosecution Services also has the competence to withdraw cases constituting semipublic crimes during the questioning which can lead to terminate the process, but this does not happen so far,” Mr. Sampaio continued.
The President of the Court of Appeal Hon. Judge Deolindo dos Santos who gave his remarks at the launch event, said, “[t]he Timorese Constitution recognizes customary norms and practices which have existed long before the courts. This practice, which varies from one place to another, is quite widespread throughout Timor-Leste [and] attempts to provide solutions to problems or disputes in the communities”
Also present at the launch event was President of Legislative Reform and Justice Sector Commission (CRL), Dr. Jorge Graca. The Commission was established to undertake research studies and make recommendations to the Government of Timor-Leste (GoTL) about legislative reform necessary to strengthen the justice system. In his remarks, Graca stated that “community dispute resolutions have their own social legitimacy and spiritual power which originated from historical convictions, and this is what our communities practice. Value of community dispute resolutions are underpinned by a collective will of those involved in the commission of offences to create peace and social harmony, and it’s allowed by our Constitution.”
Since 2008, the Mexican government has made various efforts to implement, consolidate, and disseminate information about the New Criminal Justice System (NCJS). However, the National Survey on the Criminal Justice System conducted in 2012 showed that only 11% of the population was aware of justice system changes and that guidance and information services were not being provided to justice system users. This was the last survey to measure the level of citizen knowledge about the NCJS and its available services.
In 2015, USAID’s Promoting Justice project (PROJUST) began developing informational websites about the NCJS in four states in response to justice institutions’ requests for support for assistance in promoting awareness of the services provided to citizens under the NCJS. In 2016, PROJUST, in collaboration with Locatel, succeeded in elevating the state website project to another level by creating a citizen assistance multiplatform for the NCJS called Justice for You. The multiplatform seeks to inform citizens at the national level about what to do if they are involved in a criminal process through three support channels: a customized website for each state, online chat, and a call center.
Justice for You (www.justiciaparati.mx) was launched on October 12, 2016. USAID provided technical assistance for the project’s design and development as well as training for call center operators. Currently it provides service in four states: Mexico City, Coahuila, the State of Mexico, and Tabasco. By the end of 2017, it will serve the citizens of 28 additional states. As of June 2017, the website has received 7,818 visits and 5,719 guidance inquiries from citizens facing criminal proceedings as victims, accused, or interested third parties.
For Emma Huitron, coordinator of the Justice for You call center, “it has been a great pleasure to be able to support people who don’t have a lawyer to guide them through an urgent situation and ensuring they can obtain the necessary information over the phone to avoid larger problems or unlawful detention.”
Justice for You is sustainable in the long term because of the coordinated efforts between USAID and the Government of Mexico City, the Ministry of Interior of Mexico and the National Conference of Governors (CONAGO), who all officially inaugurated this service at the national level through a cooperation agreement. In 2017, USAID through PROJUST, will continue to build customized websites for more states and in coordination with Locatel, the call center service will be disseminated through local campaigns. PROJUST will also seek to include referrals to civil society organizations that work closely with justice institutions, in order to offer more options to citizens. By 2019, PROJUST plans to launch websites in all 32 states with the goal that all Mexicans have access to this service.
Tetra Tech’s Justice Sector Assistance Project, funded by the US State Department Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, has been supporting the Palestinian Authority Security Forces by developing Epsilon-P, a law enforcement information system that is promising to transform PASF operations. Through Epsilon-P, five PASF agencies – the Palestinian Civil Police, District Coordination Office, Civil Defense, Presidential Guard, and National Security Forces – plus another agency, the Administration and Organization Commission (AOC), have for the first time agreed to share security-related information. By signing the Epsilon-P charter, these agencies have committed to working together to improve security across the West Bank through information sharing.
An Executive Leadership Council now meets once a month to provide guidance and direction to the Tetra Tech-supported Epsilon-P software development team and to solicit feedback on the system from user groups in each agency. One of the first software modules, covering human resources (HR), will enable security services to share information electronically with the AOC which is the main body responsible for HR in the various security agencies. Another early module, on operations, will facilitate communication and coordination between the security services.
Col. Suliman Abu Rub of the Palestinian Civil Police, the elected Chairman of the Executive Leadership Council, remarked, “Epsilon-P’s strongest point is that it brought several security services together and unified the approach and vision of these services regarding adopting one [information technology] solution. This is a major step as it will unify the technology in all services which in turn will make data sharing very easy. Epsilon-P also provides a unified infrastructure which makes the development process easier and more cost effective.” To help ensure sustainability, Tetra Tech is providing specialized information technology training to improve staff skills and capabilities.
Tetra Tech’s Justice Sector Assistance Project (JSAP), funded by the US State Department Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), has been providing material and technical support to strengthen the capacities of the Palestinian Civil Police (PCP) Cybercrime Unit. Owing to this support, the unit has seen increasing success solving complex criminal cases involving electronic evidence.
The PCP established the Cybercrime Unit in 2013 and tasked it with processing and analyzing crime scenes that contain electronic and digital evidence. Tetra Tech’s support has included providing “first response” training, developing standard operating procedures, providing data-recovery software and training PCP staff on its use, and training prosecutors and judges on the use of digital evidence in criminal cases. In addition, Tetra Tech equipped the unit with forensic software, computers, and office furnishings.
The Head of the Cybercrime Unit, Lt. Col. Samer Hindi, credited INL and JSAP with providing strong support to the unit which has recently solved several high-profile investigations. He noted that when the unit was first established he did not have a clear vision of its role, but by the end of last year, the unit had proven its value by examining electronic evidence in 196 cases. “Now we are processing evidence from juvenile, narcotics, and other cases,” he said. “We are proud that we are offering something helpful.”
Lt. Col. Hindi cited a recent instance where the stronger Cybercrime Unit successfully solved a crime. Thieves broke into an Arab Bank branch in Bir Nabala on February 3, 2017 and stole approximately 500,000 NIS ($130,000) from an ATM. During the commission of the crime, the thieves destroyed the surveillance cameras and damaged the ATM’s internal chip which can self-dial for help. The thieves also removed computer routers and a digital video recorder containing the bank’s surveillance videos. A few days later, the equipment was found by a citizen who turned over the damaged devices to the police. Despite the electronics being damaged, using forensic examination the Cybercrime Unit’s computer analysis response team was able to recover surveillance video showing three masked males breaking into the bank. A police officer was later able to identify one of the suspects who after interrogation admitted to his involvement, implicating the two others and turning over the stolen money to the police.
As a next step in its capacity building activities, Tetra Tech is developing training programs to continue strengthening the Cybercrime Unit of the PCP as well as the Cybercrime Unit of the Attorney General’s Office.
Since September 2016, Tetra Tech has been implementing Epsilon-P, a law enforcement case management and information sharing initiative funded by the US State Department Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL). With advanced data sharing technology developed with Tetra Tech support, security agencies in the West Bank will be able to share pertinent information on security and law enforcement activities, thus ensuring that timely and key information is available to all necessary law enforcement actors.
The Epsilon-P team recently initiated the design phase of one module of the technology, on human resources. The system will allow security sector leaders to track key data regarding each member of the Palestinian Authority Security Forces, including their service records, training records, and qualifications. To ensure buy-in from the local agencies, Epsilon-P conducted a workshop for participating security services to share and discuss the design.
Soon, Epsilon-P will commence work on another module, on operations management, which will be used for reporting incidents, disseminating information as it becomes available, and providing a record of decisions for action and review.
With these modules in place, Tetra Tech’s next key target will be developing the “front porch”, a secure site to which all of the agencies can upload information. With a “front porch” in each jurisdiction populated with investigative and incident information from the several agencies, the system will function both as a tactical and analytical tool for officers, crime investigators, analysts, and strategic decision makers. These capabilities will enhance the investigative abilities of the various security agencies and reduce crime in the region.
Myanmar’s recent history has not been kind to lawyers. Viewed as a potential threat, the legal profession was weakened by military-backed governments that deliberately depleted resources at university law faculties, consolidated lawyer associations under government control, and targeted lawyers unjustly. The results were as intended: the legal curriculum in Myanmar’s universities and the critical analysis typically associated with it were erased, as were independent lawyer associations capable of sustaining continuing legal education programs. Lawyers were also regularly harassed or, worse, arrested without cause. (Photo, left: Lawyers evaluate a fact pattern during the Advanced Case Analysis training in Taungoo, Bago Region).
Although the effects are still quite present, there is evidence that the legal profession is starting to regain some of the stature it once held. An independent lawyers’ association was formed in 2016, which now, with Tetra Tech support, is launching its own organizational development and continuing legal education plans. Parliament is considering a scheme for a national legal aid program, which will afford numerous vulnerable groups access to legal representation. Even while the bill is still under debate, legal aid providers have expressed keen interest in developing their capacity to better meet client needs.
Tetra Tech’s USAID Promoting the Rule of Law Project has been a primary supporter of Myanmar’s legal aid providers, issuing grants to legal aid organizations and helping develop a legal skills curriculum to strengthen the capacity of lawyers serving the country’s poor and other vulnerable groups. The project has now launched its dual-language publication, Legal Aid Toolkit for Myanmar, a self-education resource designed to strengthen the case analysis and organizational skills of Myanmar’s legal aid providers.
The Toolkit is based on a series of Tetra Tech trainings delivered to Myanmar’s legal professionals, and includes skills-based courses, such as case analysis and witness interviewing. To guide and standardize case development, the Toolkit contains numerous templates and model forms for case intake, closing, and analysis, which address 40 of the most common issues arising under the Civil, Criminal, and Procedure Codes. The Toolkit also aims to support the establishment of new legal aid offices, and to that end provides sample forms and policies for a legal aid start up.
Over 200 Myanmar lawyers, paralegals, law students, and civil society representatives attended the recent launch of the Toolkit. The project is now working with other international organizations, including the European Union and UN Development Programme, to introduce the Toolkit through their rule of law programs. With the distribution of the Toolkit, Tetra Tech is building the capacity of legal aid providers to provide effective representation and meet access to justice needs. One young lawyer at the launch, Thet Nyein Maw, summed up the opportunities the Toolkit provides: “I always believed I could be a lawyer, but it is only now I understand how I can think like one.”