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.

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Ba 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

June 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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JSMP suco council training held in Maubara post administration of Liquiçá municipality

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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

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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Presentation of the Oecusse Court Thematic Report in Oecusse

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.

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.

The 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...”

March 2016

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

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Tetra 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.

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 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.

February 2016

USAID ProJustice Project is helping improve access to legal and judicial services for people with disabilities in Côte d’Ivoire

Although Côte d’Ivoire signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2007 and ratified it in 2014, little progress has been made. Legislative changes are needed to incorporate the convention’s requirements in national legislation and institutions must be established. In 2015, the government announced its intention to recruit 300 persons with disabilities into the Ivoirian national civil service but no other developments have taken place. Several civil society organizations representing persons with disabilities have been advocating for a more ambitious reform program, and USAID’s support has come at an opportune time. On November 24-25, 2015, ProJustice organized a two-day conference in Abidjan to discuss implementation of the CRPD in Côte d’Ivoire. Several international and national experts delivered keynote presentations on the requirements of the convention and provided comparative perspectives. Attendees discussed Côte d’Ivoire’s past efforts and the way forward.

The conference took place under the auspices of ProJustice Handicap, a new component of Tt DPK’s Justice Sector Support Program (ProJustice) focused on increasing access to justice for people with disabilities. Since 2013, ProJustice has been working to improve the functioning of the justice system and increase access to justice, and the disability component was added in 2015.

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Photo (L):ProJustice Project Chief of Party, Daniel Dobrovoljec, welcomes attendees to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities two-day conference

Photo (R):The representative of the Speaker of Côte d’Ivoire’s National Assembly speaking at the conference on the UN Convention on Persons With Disabilities, with sign language interpreter at left

“Nothing about us, without us!” – the slogan of the American civil rights movement for people with disabilities – became the motto of the conference, signaling the enthusiasm of the participants and reflecting the importance of the disability community being closely consulted and fully involved in the design and implementation of all plans and agendas to address their needs (see photo below).

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The conference resulted in an impressive agenda that includes the establishment of a national commission to be chaired by the prime minister to monitor progress made at realizing the rights of persons with disabilities, as well as the preparation of legislation to implement the provisions of the UN Convention at national and sub-national levels. Conference attendees included the Minister of Social Affairs representing the Prime Minister and the Speaker of the National Assembly, reflecting a burgeoning interest in top levels of government in the rights of persons with disabilities. At the closing ceremony, the Chief of Staff of the Ministry of Social Affairs praised the organizers and the participants for their ambitious agenda. “We must be ambitious,” he said, “as the challenge is so important.”

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