The Fundasaun Fatuk Sinae Oecusse (FFSO) is one of the oldest non-profit civil society organizations in the Oecusse Region of East Timor. Founded to increase citizens’ understanding of, access to, and confidence in the justice sector, it provides free legal services and outreach programs in poor rural communities. Only a few organizations provide free legal services in Oecusse, so rural villages suffered when the FFSO was forced to reduce its staff at the close of a previous USAID access-to-justice program that ended in 2012.
Since the launch of the USAID-funded Ba Distrito (“To the Districts”) project, Tetra Tech has built a strong relationship with FFSO. Among other activities, Tetra Tech has supported FFSO in conducting legal outreach sessions for more than 400 Timorese citizens.
Tetra Tech’s recent support has been critical. FFSO director Antonio dos Remedios explained: "Because there are only a few organizations that provide such services to the poor and vulnerable, our partnership with USAID-funded Ba Distrito project is fundamentally valuable because it ensures that the poor and vulnerable people living in the rural villages can also have access to justice through access to free legal aid assistance and legal outreach activities.”
A year after criminal justice reforms were introduced in Mexico, journalists had a limited understanding of the changes, even in states where the reform process was more advanced. Recognizing the critical role of journalists in fostering the necessary cultural change to accompany the reforms, Tetra Tech’s USAID-funded PROJUST project is implementing an extensive training program for journalists, editors, and chief information officers across the country on the new laws.
Working closely with the Government of Mexico’s Technical Secretariat for the Implementation of the Criminal System (SETEC), PROJUST has provided key training to communications professionals from media outlets in 16 Mexican states to date. In one of the workshops, “How to Report Under the New Criminal Justice System,” journalist and instructor Omar Sánchez de Tagle explained that reporters now respect the rights of all involved in criminal proceedings. For example, as the head of SETEC in Hidalgo State explained: "In local newspapers such as El Sol de Hidalgo, the one with the highest circulation, I saw that articles being published are already implementing the suggestions from the workshops. For instance, they now obscure the faces of the people appearing in photographs [to protect their privacy].” He went on to state that in his view, Tetra Tech’s workshops for journalists have perceptibly affected news stories around the country.
Tetra Tech’s USAID-funded ProJustice program is working to improve the administration of justice in Côte d'Ivoire by strengthening the capacity of magistrates, court staff, and judicial police officers (JPOs) in 11 pilot courts. To build this capacity and enable the National Institute of Judicial Training (INFJ) to train even more magistrates and JPOs, ProJustice implemented a train-the-trainer (TOT) program to identify and train justice sector personnel.
An international expert trained a first group of magistrates and JPOs to become trainers, conveying such concepts as creating team spirit among participants, establishing rules for communication, and managing time effectively. This group went on to train a second group of trainers, who in turn have put their training into practice by leading ProJustice's joint training program for magistrates and JPOs in the project's 11 pilot courts. With their assistance, the project has trained over 300 magistrates and JPOs.
Participants have uniformly complimented ProJustice on the quality and utility of the training sessions, particularly for jointly training magistrates and JPOs to improve their communication and collaboration. Asked for her impressions, Magistrate Noëlle Angeline Petey said she particularly appreciated the design of the training kit which contains several teaching methods. “It ranged from … theoretical lesson[s to] practical case scenarios …. The training I received from ProJustice allowed me to enhance my teaching skills."
With support from this expanded pool of trainers, ProJustice next designed new training kits for use in the INFJ's continuing education program. ProJustice also developed a TOT manual for use by the INFJ. In addition to promoting the sustainability of the ProJustice training program, by expanding the number of trainers Tetra Tech’s TOT methodology is expected to enable more widespread training of magistrates and JPOs in the Ivoirian judicial system.
Tetra Tech’s Pro-Integridad project in Peru has helped the government address one of the biggest challenges in corruption cases: how to calculate the damages due from persons convicted of crimes against the public administration where there is no quantifiable financial loss. The project worked with the Prosecutor’s Office Specialized in Anti-Corruption to develop a methodology for calculating civil damages in such cases. The methodology uses records in the Public Attorney's database going back to 2000, including on the amounts defrauded, the rank of the officials in question, and the level of media exposure. This information is fed into an IT tool, or simulator, which calculates damages owed to the state on a case-by-case basis.
Anti-corruption attorneys’ offices have installed the calculation tool on their systems and have been trained on its use. Dr. Percy Capillo López, anticorruption prosecutor in San Martin, stated that "the simulator will help the state attorneys to better argue and support the requests for civil damages before judges so that the amounts recognized in favor of the State are realistic and proportionate to the harm caused."
A new Law on Criminal Procedure (LCP) in the Republic of Macedonia transformed criminal procedures in the country. Recognizing the enormous changes in criminal procedures wrought by the LCP, the Rule of Law Council (ROLC) (an informal platform of civil society organizations and legal professional associations) recognized the urgent need to inform citizens about their rights and obligations under the new law. Tetra Tech’s Judicial Strengthening Project, which had supported the establishment of the ROLC, pledged to support its public outreach activities.
The ROLC first conducted a public awareness campaign on the LCP on a number of communication channels. Three video spots targeted potential victims, criminals, witnesses, and legal practitioners. Each spot conveyed its message by using examples of everyday family situations to demonstrate the new roles Macedonians might find themselves in under the new criminal procedure rules. In addition, ROLC printed brochures for the general public and for the legal community and distributed them to every court, public prosecution office, and detention center in Macedonia.
During the awareness-raising campaign, 66.4% of the target group (18-35 year olds) saw the television spot more than once, while 38.1% saw it more than three times. The campaign's Facebook page had 3,510 fans and 3,926 “Likes”, the television spot posted on Facebook reached 392,472 people, and the web page received 7,625 views. These numbers clearly demonstrate that a significant number of citizens were exposed to the campaign message and gained knowledge of their rights and obligations under the new LCP.
Following decades of isolation, Myanmar's judiciary is reviewing existing systems, policies, and practices and has been seeking guidance on international best practices for justice sector reform. Tetra Tech’s USAID-funded Promoting the Rule of Law Project (PRLP) is working with the Office of the Supreme Court of the Union to establish a national Case Management Committee tasked with re-evaluating and modernizing the country’s Courts Manual which dates back to 1960. While much of the Manual’s guidance remains relevant, some of it has not been consistently followed and would benefit from re-examination and the introduction of modern case management practices. The new Courts Manual is being implemented in several PRLP-supported pilot courts and, following an evaluation of the experience in the pilot courts, is intended to be rolled out in courts across the country.
One part of the Manual is a new Case Management Plan, which is designed to address chronic delays in Myanmar’s courts that undermine court calendars as well as the cases themselves, whether due to poorly prepared attorneys or failure of witnesses or police to appear. Under the Plan, litigants in the pilot courts will see major changes, including the introduction of case management conferences, case scheduling orders signed by the judges and the parties (cited by judges and experts as the single, most effective delay-reduction tool), and pretrial conferences. The result will be a custom-made road map for each case provided to the parties at the outset of litigation, instilling clarity about the various steps and the expectations of each party.
Although implementation of these new procedures has encountered some resistance and challenges because they diverge from decades-old judicial practices, the new Courts Manual and Case Management Plan are notable steps in Myanmar’s justice sector reform process.
Judiciary leadership in Myanmar authorized judges at the local court levels to speak with the press for the first time
“When speaking to journalists, show your compassion as a human by acknowledging the concerns of the average viewer, and let them know that as you take your job seriously in providing a public service, you also feel the pain of those affected.”
The practical advice from Kentucky Appellate Court Judge William Knopf (Ret.) was eagerly noted down by an audience of 56 judges from around Myanmar in a Court-Media Relations Workshop in Naypyitaw in May 2014, organized by the USAID Promoting the Rule of Law Project.
As Myanmar embarks on historic political reforms, the nation’s judges are still finding their footing amid a transformation in legal relations among the judiciary, citizens, and the press.
In the words of one judicial official, with newfound freedom of the press, the judiciary is facing “scurrilous criticism” from the media. Judges at the May workshop conceded they have lacked the training and skills to respond effectively. Historically media is allowed in courtrooms, whereas individual judges have not been authorized to speak with journalists.
Judge Knopf – citing a US court ruling which states, “One of the strongest demands of a democratic system is that the public should know what goes on in their courts” – explained that judges in the US generally are free to speak to journalists subject to certain ethical constraints. He also outlined the critical role of public information units in the courts in communicating about the positive work of the judiciary and responding to journalist inquiries and the value of developing written guides for judges and journalists.
The impact of the workshop was quickly felt. Within weeks, judiciary leadership for the first time authorized judges at the local court levels to speak with the press. The Office of the Supreme Court of the Union adopted a decision to move ahead with a plan to establish Public Information Units at the national and region/state levels. And the judiciary invited the Promoting the Rule of Law Project to provide media skills training in the new judge training program in August.
The Promoting the Rule of Law Project will provide technical support to the creation of the new public information units, media skills training for judges, development of a Reporter’s Handbook, and training to journalists about professional reporting on the justice system.
A more open judiciary is vital to the long-term success of Myanmar’s reform process. Judges confident in their ability to interact with journalists, on the one hand, and more professional journalists, on the other, will promote openness, fair and balanced media coverage, and, ultimately, greater public trust and confidence in the judiciary.
The Prosecutor General of Peru approved the Organization and Functions Manual for the Corporate Criminal Prosecutor’s Office
On May 10, 2014, Peru’s Prosecutor General published the resolution wherein he approved the “Organization and Functions Manual” for the Corporate Criminal Prosecution Office. The Manual was developed and is to be implemented by the Public Ministry pursuant to the Plan for the Consolidation of the Reform which was approved by the Special Commission for Implementation of the Criminal Procedure Code.
The Manual was developed with the technical assistance of the USAID Pro-Integridad Project by a working group of 16 members, appointed by the Prosecutor General of the Nation by way of resolution of February 27, 2014. This group was composed of prosecutors and officials from nine districts of Peru. The Manual redesigns the organization of the criminal prosecution offices so as to facilitate the implementation of the Criminal Procedure Code. Key objectives of the reorganization, based on the corporate model, include team work, systemic coordination between the prosecution and administrative units and equitable distribution of the work load.,
The Criminal Procedure Code, the implementation of which started in 2006, replaces the Criminal Procedures Code of 1940. The new Code not only transforms the role of prosecutors but demands the adjustment of the organization and procedures of the criminal prosecution offices to respond to the challenge of realizing the accusatory model and the oral trial. Compared to Code of 1940 the new procedure will bring enhanced speed and transparency but reorganization is necessary to attain its full potential.
With the new Manual, the corporate model is consolidated and there are coordination mechanisms and criteria in place to optimize the distribution of the prosecutors’ workloads. The next step will be to train prosecutors and key personnel to implement the new corporate office structure and procedures. USAID Pro-Integridad will continue its support of the Public Ministry in these next important steps.
ProJustice organized training for chief clerks, judges, and heads of courts to evaluate their practices and raise their awareness of national legislation and international standards
Improving the administration of justice in Côte d’Ivoire is a primary objective of Tetra Tech DPK’s ProJustice Program. Strong and capable court personnel, judiciary police, and magistrates are key to an effective judiciary. To implement an ambitious training program, ProJustice helped form the Committee for Modernization and Improvement of Justice (comprised of senior judges and officials from the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights) to guide ProJustice’s training agenda for magistrates and court personnel. Magistrates, judicial police, and court staff are being trained in criminal investigation and prosecution techniques, management of investigating judge offices, both in Abidjan and in the 11 pilot court sites where ProJustice works.
Among the many beneficiaries of ProJustice’s early training efforts was Mr. Kone Mori, President of the Court of Dimbokro, who expressed particular interest in the training program’s emphasis on the concept of a public service orientation of the courts and the need to provide accurate information to defendants and victims. He stated that the training increased his understanding of various aspects of court management, including citizens’ rights during police custody, the use of detention warrants, and strategies for reducing criminal case backlogs.
After his training, Mr. Kone informed ProJustice of the steps he intended to take to implement the strategies introduced. He stated that he would work with the police to stress the importance of providing notice of detention to defendants, and he also promised to work regularly with his staff to better organize his court’s case management systems and to promote transparency in his court.
Mr. Kone Mori, President of the Court of Dimbokro, shows his certificate of participation in one of ProJustice’s training seminars on modernization and improvement of the Ivoirian justice system.
Young female lawyer represents Afghanistan in the Jessup International Moot Court Competition
Traditional Afghan society offers limited opportunities for women to pursue a university education and develop the skills and self-efficacy that can lead to a career in public service. However, Fereshta Abbasi is one of a growing number of exceptional Afghan women who are overcoming that trend. Fereshta’s parents fled to Iran before she was born and returned to Afghanistan in 2004, when Fereshta was 12 years old. Her parents, and especially her father, always encouraged her to excel in school and continue to support her dream to become a lawyer. With this goal in mind, Fereshta attended the Law Faculty at Herat University and graduated in 2013.
As a law student, she competed in the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition. As the only female team member, Fereshta traveled to Washington, DC, without the accompaniment of a family member, despite conservative social norms for women her age.
The Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition is the world's largest of its kind, and USAID sponsors the participation of students from Afghanistan. Fereshta felt so empowered by her exposure to law students from around the world in 2013 that she pursued an opportunity to return to the Jessup competition after graduation. In 2014, Fereshta was invited to return as the first Afghan national to participate as a judge in the international rounds of the competition.
Commenting on her experience, Fereshta said: “Being a judge in international rounds is a unique experience. It was one of my dreams to be an international judge and now I have accomplished this goal.” Fereshta is currently working in Kabul as an advisor to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and hopes to be a role model for other female law students in Afghanistan. She is on her way towards a bright future as a dedicated lawyer in service to her country.
Fereshta Abbasi proudly poses with the flag of Afghanistan at the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition in Washington, DC