December 2017

Snapshot on Tetra Tech’s support of Jamaican Drug Rehabilitation Program

Under Jamaica’s Drug Court (Treatment and Rehabilitation of Offenders) Act, the Drug Treatment Court (DTC) has sought to reduce the number of crimes linked to drug abuse by providing treatment and regular monitoring for drug-dependent offenders and supporting them to function as law-abiding citizens.

In June 2016, Tetra Tech’s Community Empowerment and Transformation Project Phase II (COMET II) partnered with the DTC Rehabilitation Program to support a workforce development program to enroll participants in skills training courses such as digital animation, auto mechanics, or remedial courses in secondary matriculation exams.

One participant, 36-year old Probean Champaignie, proves it is never too late to turn around , no matter how far down the ‘wrong’ path one may be.

Even after attending his first courses, Champaignie says he resisted the opportunity to succeed. “At first, I was telling myself, ‘this is not for me, I don’t need any help. I’m bigger than this.”

Champaignie was referring to his participation in the DTC Rehabilitation program. In 2015, Champaignie ended up in the Resident Magistrate’s Court after being involved in a serious fight; an incident he now deeply regrets; “I didn’t think I needed any help, but looking back now, I see that I was wrong. The program helped me to quit drinking, and I learned how to manage conflict.”

Champaignie enrolled in the program’s auto mechanics course, certified by Jamaica’s HEART Trust National Training Agency, which was implemented by Cornerstone Ministries, a vocational and technical training school. He completed Levels 1 and 2 and will be advancing to Level 3 in an on-the-job-certification course. The father of three and valedictorian at his graduation from the DTC program in December 2016, Champaignie made such a strong impression, that he was offered the position of a Level 1 Auto Mechanics instructor at Cornerstone Ministries.

“We were so impressed that when one of our instructors resigned, we decided to offer him the position. He did not even know how to turn on a computer when he first came here. But since then, he has not failed a single assessment. Now that he is working with high risk students, his character stands out in how he manages the guys and they respect him”, says the Executive Director at Cornerstone Ministries, Marjorie Gowdy.

Champaignie admits that he enjoys being able to pass on knowledge to and earn the respect of his students. “By me becoming their teacher, it has encouraged them. Some of them tell me, ‘sir, I want to walk in your shoes, I want to be like you ’.”

In the future, Champaignie intends to complete more advanced levels in auto mechanics and possibly expand into other sectors. “My goal is to go into aviation. I also want to open a garage. I envision it as a multi-purpose complex where we have a car wash, auto-body work, and a parts shop as well”.

November 2017

Snapshot on How Tetra Tech is Building Civil Society Capacity to Engage in Public Policy

Through a grant to the Integrated Development Executive Association (IDEA), Tetra Tech’s Promoting the Rule of Law Project (PRLP) is building the capacity of civil society to engage in public policy development and advocacy. On October 21, 2017, IDEA conducted an advocacy consultation meeting with State-level Members of Parliament (MPs). Fifteen MPs and IDEA members discussed findings of civil society organizations (CSOs) and technical stakeholders to develop solutions for current community challenges. Media representatives from Thanlwin Thwee Chin Journal, Shwe Maung Journal, the People’s Voice Journal, and MRTV/NRC also attended the event.

During the event, the director of IDEA presented findings from their project, entitled Community Based Legal Service Initiatives (CBLSI), which illustrated the impact of language barriers on access to justice, the lack of legal knowledge, and the need for legal aid, especially in land and environmental cases. Recommendations from CSOs and technical stakeholders included conducting awareness training, enhancing communication and collaboration between Government and local communities, incorporating basic legal knowledge in High School curriculum, and conducting public consultations and engaging legal experts when drafting laws. U Khin Maung Myint, a state level MP, noted that “It is not easy to sustain the rule of law, and everyone should collaborate to find solutions.”

IDEA also discussed the need for both technical and legal experts in the legal drafting process, especially for specialized topics, such as land law. During a group discussion, the participants agreed on the need for MPs to facilitate more community awareness, as well as to participate in legal training sessions. The group also discussed the importance of using plain language to help farmers understand existing land tenure laws. To address ethnic language issues, they suggested using cartoons to explain laws and procedures.

As a result of this advocacy consultation, MPs committed to present the legal issues and needs of these communities to Union level representatives. MPs also agreed to participate in future IDEA events to learn more about community challenges and legal findings from the project. This type of collaborative advocacy is helping Myanmar be more inclusive, accountable, and responsive to the public and develop the rule of law, especially in rural communities.

 

 November 2017

Snapshot on young entrepreneur, Nicholas McKenzie

Gregory Park, ST. CATHERINE - “I see myself as an individual creator, and I have been inspired by and create with other creators, so naturally I call my business I Am Creations”.

25-year old Nicholas McKenzie’s compelling story demonstrates how the willingness to reach his goals combined with encouragement from his community brought him to launch his own jewelry business.

USAID-funded Community Empowerment and Transformation Project II (COMET II) partner, Forward Step Foundation, is the organization responsible, in part, for McKenzie’s success. In 2015, McKenzie wanted to pursue a career in music. After high school, however, McKenzie was fixing cell phones and other gadgets to support himself. He decided to try something different, and joined the first cohort of student trainees in a six-month skills training program dubbed “Lively Up Yuhself” at the Forward Step Foundation. The Foundation’s Sustainable Livelihood Project, supported by COMET II, targeted unattached youth from the community and equipped them with a range of skills including furniture building, jewelry making, and studio engineering.

McKenzie recalls, “I started out doing studio engineering at the Foundation, but then, I became interested in making Shamballa bracelets taught by Bobo Julius, the craft jewelry trainer.” As he progressed, Julius noticed McKenzie’s progress; “He told me he was proud of how good I was at coming up with new designs,” stated McKenzie.

Since that pilot program, the Foundation has been operating as a social enterprise in jewelry design. Using the skills of its training graduates, McKenzie being a shining example, they sell jewelry to support their training programs for at-risk youth. This experience was instrumental in equipping McKenzie with the skills to launch his own business. However, even with the support of the program, his path to I am Creations was not without its own challenges. “After I completed the training, we would go around to different locations displaying our pieces, but eventually, I had to join my father on a construction site because this was a good opportunity at the time.”

After completing the short gig with his dad, McKenzie returned to the Foundation, continuing his involvement there as a craft jeweler. Shortly after, Latoya Fry, Operations Manager at the Foundation and a craft jewelry entrepreneur herself, told him about an advanced training workshop in craft jewelry offered by the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC). “The name of the workshop was ‘Perfect Finish’, [and there,] I learned how to forge metal and refine my pieces,” notes McKenzie. It was here that McKenzie formulated the concept for his business, incorporating metal with beads and other materials that he used in his designs at the Foundation. He, along with his classmates, displayed their first pieces in his I Am Creations line at their graduation ceremony.

McKenzie says he intends to widen his already growing local clientele to the international markets. However, to do this, he says he will need a few extra hands. “The Foundation was very crucial in helping me to reach this point and I want to give back in whatever way I can. So, I have started training other youth in my community on Saturdays as a way to recruit other craft jewelry makers on my team, and already I am seeing some great talents”.

October 2017

Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Snapshot

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The Promoting the Rule of Law Project (PRLP) is funding the Thwee Community Development Network (TCDN) to address trafficking in persons (TIP) efforts along the Myanmar-Thailand border in Kautkayeik and Myawaddy. On September 16th, TCDN commemorated the annual Myanmar TIP Day with an event that included 239 participants, including representatives of the Department of Social Welfare, General Administrative Office, Anti-Trafficking Task Force, Myanmar Women’s Affair Federation, Ministry of Human Development and Security and Immigration Departments from Thailand, civil society organizations, high school students, and local community members.

Myawaddy is a border area known for TIP where TCDN is working to improve awareness and stakeholder participation using a community focused approach. TCDN is engaging with both Myanmar and Thailand to build cross-border collaboration that can improve enforcement of the anti-trafficking law and provide awareness training in Kyautkayiek and Myawaddy.

The main feature of the event was a panel discussion on Human Trafficking and personal security. Reported cases have declined significantly, but there are concerns that this is because of a lack in reported cases. Therefore, TCDN is teaching communities to understand the law, recognize the crime, and report it to the correct authorities. Experts in the field discussed root causes, types of migration, and responses based on the Myanmar National Strategy. The high school students raised numerous questions about trafficking of children and suggested the development of a pamphlet focused on child trafficking.

A unique part of the program was a Quiz Show where the students and community participants demonstrated their knowledge of TIP to win prizes (pictured here). The event provided concrete tactics on how communities can address this human rights violation and prevent future trafficking of vulnerable populations. Having a diverse group of leaders, organizations, and community members together for this event provided an opportunity to expand collaboration, develop prevention efforts, and ensure an effective response to TIP.

October 2017

With grant support, CSOs are working to raise awareness and protect vulnerable citizens from TIP

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Kengtung, in Eastern Shan State, is a trafficking in persons (TIP) gateway to China and Thailand. With grant funding from the Promoting the Rule of Law Project (PRLP), a local civil society organization, Mawkon, is working to combat this human rights violation and protect vulnerable citizens. On September 13th, more than 500 people including the Deputy State General Administrator, State Deputy People’s Police Force, State Anti-Trafficking Task Force (ATTF) commander, political parties, Members of Parliament, state and district level officers, and CSOs participated in the 5th annual anti-trafficking day, commemorating the passage of the Myanmar TIP law.

The Deputy State General Administrator noted that, “Myanmar has been undertaking many efforts to combat TIP for years. Because of lack of employment opportunities, development conditions, and armed conflicts, our people are vulnerable to trafficking.” One hundred and eight cases of human trafficking were handled by Myanmar courts between September 2016 and August 2017. Many more cases are suspected, but they often go unreported due to the sensitive nature of this crime. The government is working to improve their response and compliance with international standards, including the ASEAN Convention for Trafficking in Persons. Due to improved anti-TIP efforts, Myanmar was recently upgraded from Tier 3 to the Tier 2 watch list on the U.S. State Department TIP list. Myanmar continues to implement a 5-year strategic plan (2017-2021) designed to combat this insidious practice. The Deputy General Administrator highlighted in his remarks that “peace building is a big factor to prevent TIP.”

For this year’s celebration, Mawkon hosted a mobilization and public awareness event. The event included regional cooperation with the Executive Director of the Foundation of Child Understanding based in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and 5 other participating foundations based in Chiang Rai. Events included essay, cartoon, poster, and painting competitions for middle and high school students. These items were displayed in an exhibition at the event (see photo), which also included a video in local dialect to raise awareness.

Daw Mi Mi Ko, a State ATTF commander, expressed her support by saying, “We work together in Kengtung to combat TIP and to overcome issues in the Triangle area.” Mawkon has become a key player in this fight against TIP in both Kengtung and Tachileik, conducting prevention and awareness efforts to protect children, youth, and women in marginalized communities.

October 2017

Customer service training provides better access to justice for citizens of Myanmar

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If it is indeed true that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then the USAID-funded Promoting the Rule of Law Project (PRLP) has cause to be flattered. After providing customer service training at the Office of the Supreme Court of the Union (OSCU) and in pilot courts in the first half of 2017, the training has spread to numerous other courts of their own volition. The focus of the training was to initiate positive and productive interactions with all court users and improve the level of service being provided. Ultimately, the results benefit not only the general public but also attorneys, police, and litigants who interact with the court on a daily basis.

The third day of the original program was dedicated to training court personnel on the delivery of the training module. This approach provides a sustainable model, which allows the courts themselves to replicate and deliver the training for other personnel. Participants quickly realized the benefit, not only for the public, but for improving their skills and the perception of the courts.

The training provided new techniques and communication skills to create a culture of customer service at the courts (see photo). Sessions included effective listening skills, the importance of initial intake, the physical environment, and assessing improvement using the Q10 method. The Q10 methodology utilizes a brief 10 question survey of court users to measure customer perception. The initial training included 34 participants from the OSCU but has expanded to include 865 beneficiaries, including 448 women and 417 men. After seeing the benefits this program offered to the courts, the OSCU chose to replicate the program throughout Myanmar for High Courts, District Courts, and Pilot Courts in 6 Regions and 2 States.

PRLP is providing technical assistance to selected pilot courts in Myanmar and their support was the original impetus for this activity. However, the concept quickly spread evidencing the value of pilot activities to motivate system wide reform. Thanks to this valuable program, citizens can now enjoy better service and the reputation of the courts continue to improve. Quality justice services are an important component of ensuring the rule of law for all citizens.

October 2017

With grant support, CSOs are working to raise awareness and protect vulnerable citizens from gender-based violence

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.

September 2017

The film provides an innovative approach to disseminating police accomplishments to the public

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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.

September 2017

Tetra Tech’s JSAP hosted a meeting between Palestinian and American women working in the Justice Sector to share challenges and accomplishments

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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.

September 2017

Tetra Tech’s JSAP project has assisted the Public Prosecution Offices in implementing various backlog reduction measures

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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.”

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