Building on our presence in Jordan since 2004, Tetra Tech’s current USAID-funded Rule of Law Program (ROLP) is working to strengthen democratic accountability and effective rule of law through improved institutions, systems, and processes and increased civic and private sector participation in oversight activities. ROLP has been supporting the Ministry of Public Sector Development’s Government Leadership Program, which aims to build capacity of potential leaders in a variety of areas including strategic planning, project management, human resources, economics and finance, communication, negotiation, change management, and ethics.
In May 2016, ROLP and the Ministry jointly conducted a two-week training for 40 future government leaders serving in the country’s southern region. In addition to attending sessions on strategic planning, priority setting, and budgeting, the participants also learned how to engage effectively with civil society to improve service delivery. At the conclusion of the training program in Aqaba, the Minister of Public Sector Development, Dr. Khalif Alkhawaldeh, stressed the importance of equipping public sector middle managers to serve in leadership positions and generally be more accountable to the public at large.
Improving cooperation between the Public Prosecution and Courts and other justice sector stakeholders has been a long-time Justice Sector Assistance Project (JSAP) priority. JSAP has regularly focused on facilitating meetings on the district level between Chief Prosecutors, Chief Judges and their respective staffs in order to improve investigative teamwork and the processing of cases. During the period of August 1-2, 2016 JSAP helped elevate this cooperation, taking it to the national leadership level as JSAP hosted a joint workshop with the participation of institutional leaders including Attorney General, Ahmed Barrak and High Judicial Council (HJC) Secretary General, Judge Raed Assaf as well as Chief Judges and Prosecutors from across all West Bank governorates.
The workshop was conducted in coordination with the HJC and the Attorney General's Office (AGO) and was led by a JSAP consultant, Jordanian Judge Mustafa Al-Assaf. The event focused on having an open and honest dialogue on the key challenges presented in joint Public Prosecution-Judiciary work and proposing solutions to these challenges.
Speaking at the workshop Attorney General Barrak stressed the significance of this workshop and emphasized the need to focus on solutions to the many challenges facing prosecutors and judges in their joint work in order to facilitate litigation and ensuring justice and rule of law for Palestinian citizens. Judge Assaf noted that despite a successful relationship between the Judiciary and Public Prosecution it is necessary to identify current challenges in order to provide solutions so as to better serve the public interest.
Over the two days judges and prosecutors addressed many procedural, legal, and administrative issues that impact the adjudication of criminal cases. “This workshop was effective in addressing and finding solutions to some of the most prominent challenges encountered in cases between the Judiciary and Prosecutors. Due to the lack of clarity in certain legal provisions in the Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Law, there is an absence in some procedures to govern the relationship between the courts and prosecution,” stated Judge Assaf.
At the conclusion of the workshop, the prosecutors and judges developed concrete recommendations to deal with their most common challenges in order to ensure efficiency and effectiveness of work between the two critical justice sector parties. Some recommedations call for formalizing regular coordination meetings between the Chief Judges and Chief Prosecutors in the districts as well other concrete actions to improve the flow of information and processing of cases between the two institutions.
Improving cooperation among the courts, public prosecution, and other justice sector stakeholders has been a long-standing priority of the Tetra Tech’s Justice Sector Assistance Project (JSAP) IV, funded by the US State Department Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. The project has facilitated regular meetings among district-level chief prosecutors, chief judges, and their staffs to improve investigative teamwork and case processing.
On August 1-2, 2016, JSAP helped elevate this cooperation to the national level by hosting a workshop to address key challenges to cooperation between the public prosecution and the judiciary. Organized in coordination with the High Judicial Council (HJC) and the attorney general's office, the workshop was led by Jordanian judge and JSAP expert Mustafa Al-Assaf. Participants included the Attorney General and HJC Secretary General as well as chief judges and prosecutors from all of the West Bank governorates.
Speaking at the workshop, Attorney General Ahmed Barrak underlined the importance of strengthening cooperation to improve delivery of justice and the rule of law for Palestinian citizens. Over the course of the workshop, judges and prosecutors addressed many procedural, legal, and administrative issues that affect the adjudication of criminal cases. During the workshop, the prosecutors and judges developed concrete recommendations, including the formalization of regular coordination meetings between district-level chief judges and chief prosecutors and other specific actions to improve the flow of information and speed case processing between the two institutions. In the words of Judge Assaf, “[The] workshop was effective in addressing and finding solutions to some of the most prominent challenges encountered … between the judiciary and prosecutors.”
Tetra Tech’s Justice Sector Assistance Project (JSAP) IV, funded by the US State Department Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), has completed customization of the Mizan electronic case management system to improve case processing and help automate workflow at the Military Justice Commission (MJC) in the West Bank. The MJC is responsible for prosecuting crimes committed by security personnel and overseeing the military’s judges, prisons, prosecutions, and administration. JSAP previously implemented the Mizan case automation system at the public prosecution offices and courts.
As a direct result of JSAP efforts, all MJC offices across the West Bank – including MJC headquarters, prosecution offices, and courts – are using the Mizan case automation system to manage and track casework for the first time. MJC staff and administrators are also using the system to record court hearings and decisions, while the MJC attorney general’s office is using it to electronically transfer cases to the courts. Prior to JSAP assistance, all cases were manually managed using handwritten registries and there was no way to generate data or statistics./p>
MJC Information Technology (IT) Supervisor Maj. Ibrahim Hajjaj expressed his satisfaction with the system: “Mizan helped standardize MJC work operations and set a technological framework that make[s] our work easier and improve[s] staff productivity. Mizan also help[s] in making case files available at all military justice facilities in addition to providing a sound environment to ensure integrity and transparency in work.”
With a keen eye on sustainability, JSAP has extensively trained the entire MJC IT team of nine IT specialists on data center management and on Mizan implementation, use, and development.
To improve the forensic capacity of the Palestinian Civil Police (PCP), Tetra Tech’s INL-funded Justice Sector Assistance Project (JSAP IV) recently procured 15 advanced crime scene investigation (CSI) kits for the 11 PCP district offices, the Fingerprints Department at PCP Headquarters, and the Jericho Police Training Academy. With JSAP support, crime scene and forensic evidence teams in various districts are also receiving training and mentoring on use of the kits, which consist of chemicals, cameras, and advanced CSI tools and equipment. The proper use of these kits is expected to vastly improve the PCP’s capacity to conduct investigations and collect evidence, which will in turn reduce the number of confession-based prosecutions.
Assistant Police Chief Brig. Gen. Abdel Jabbar Burqan of the Criminal Investigation Division stressed the importance of the kits in combating crime and in helping to build more solid criminal investigation files in accordance with international standards. He stated, “We are constantly seeking to develop the skills and capabilities of our personnel in handling the crime scene and forensic evidence and we look for the best training and most advanced tools to carry out this work. It is important not only to have possession of this equipment but to also have professional technical teams in place that can properly collect forensic evidence at the crime scene to protect it from damage or loss.” The ultimate goal of JSAP’s efforts in this area is to serve Palestinian citizens and promote justice by helping to ensure that criminal prosecutions are grounded in solid forensic evidence.
One year ago, 25-year-old Devon Thomas never dreamed he would be single-handedly managing a business bottling and selling honey to his southeastern Jamaican community of Mount Charles. Looking back, the young entrepreneur related some of the hurdles he faced when he began keeping bees: “My main challenge was not having the money to buy gear and equipment. I started out by catching bees in the wild and asking my friend who is a carpenter to make the boxes for me. Because I didn’t have the veil needed to catch the bees, I got a lot of stings in the beginning.”
The husband and father quit his construction job and joined a local program, Bee Busy for Youth, attending classes on the theory and practice of bee-keeping. Devon and 24 other youths between the ages of 17 and 29 benefitted from the course, which was facilitated by Jamaica’s Rural Agriculture Development Authority and funded by the Tetra Tech’s USAID Community Empowerment and Transformation Project, Phase II.
Program coordinator Clive Hawthorne was not surprised when the young man he had mentored went on to expand his business. “From the beginning Devon showed a lot of interest and passion for bee-keeping. And, although he lacked formal training and knowledge, we could tell that he had a natural talent and love for what he was doing.”
Devon shared with us his marketing strategy to scale up his business: “I have a lot of mango trees where I keep the bees, so when they take the nectar from the trees the honey comes out with a slight mango taste. Because of that, people seem to love it and so I market my honey that way and make more money from it.”
Bee-keeping is one of Jamaica’s great investment prospects. The Ministry of Agriculture has projected that the bee-keeping industry could generate an estimated 1 billion Jamaican dollars in earnings from honey production in 2015. Devon Thomas has joined a corps of youths revolutionizing Jamaica’s economic growth through agriculture. But at the end of the day, his motivation is simple: “I want to be able to provide for me and my family doing something that I love.”
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.
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
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
JSMP suco council training held in Maubara post administration of Liquiçá municipality
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
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.