Ministry of Justice and Human Rights launches implementation of the Institutional Integrity Model
The justice system in Peru has been working for several years in the fight against corruption. The Ministry of Justice and Human Rights (MINJUS), under the leadership of Dr. Daniel Figallo Rivadeneyra, has started the implementation of the MINJUS Anti-Corruption Plan, which includes the Institutional Integrity Model (IIM).
The Institutional Integrity Model (IIM) facilitates the design, development, and implementation of integrity systems that demonstrate a preventive philosophy by ensuring each institution and its staff addresses ethics as an institutional and individual obligation. Pro-Integridad developed the institutional integrity assessment of the MINJUS, including its methodology, with a high degree of participation from MINJUS members.
The result was the incorporation of specific activities and indicators related to the implementation of the IIM in their Anticorruption Plan (2013-2016) that was formally approved in November 2013. In a meeting held with USAID representatives, including the Mission Director, the Minister of Justice expressed significant interest in the assistance provided by Pro-Integridad for implementing the IIM in the Ministry. Throughout 2014, Pro-Integridad will assist the MINJUS in order to implement key activities of the IIM, the development of a new Ethics Code, and training activities related to Integrity within the MINJUS.
A seminar organized by ProJustice program in collaboration with the EU and UNOCI resulted in a revised draft law to reform and improve the management of legal aid in Côte d’Ivoire; the law will be submitted to the Parliament in April 2014 for its adoption
On March 6-8, 2014 ProJustice organized a seminar focusing on access to justice and legal aid for 35 participants from government ministries and non-governmental organizations. The seminar was a first step in paving the way for the adoption of a new law to reform and improve the management of legal aid in Côte d’Ivoire. The main objectives of the reform are to set up clearer criteria of eligibility for destitute victims to access the public defense fund to allow them to go to court. In October 2013, ProJustice facilitated a roundtable discussion among judicial professionals to review the mechanisms for payment of fees and emoluments to lawyers and other justice sector actors such as bailiffs.
Participants at the seminar deliberating on the draft law to reform and improve the management of legal aid in Côte d’Ivoire.
At least three factors hamper the functioning of the current legal aid system
ProJustice’s seminar raised awareness of the problems and resulted in a revised draft law on legal aid in Cote d’Ivoire. The law will be submitted to Parliament in April 2014 for its adoption.
In his opening remarks, the Director of Civil and Criminal Affairs of the MOJHR set an ambitious agenda, emphasizing “the aim of this seminar and of our work is to [move] justice closer to people, in particular to vulnerable people.”
Convened in Grand Bassam from March 6 – 8, 2014, the seminar was an excellent example of donor coordination, having been jointly organized and supported by USAID/ProJustice, the European Union (EU), and the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI). The seminar brought together 35 participants from different departments of the MOJHR, the Ministry of Social Affairs, Ministry of Finance, judicial treasury department, national bar association, and non-governmental organizations.
Once the new law is passed, ProJustice will continue to provide assistance to the MOJHR’s Office of Legal and Judicial Assistance to support the decentralization of the legal aid system. ProJustice plans to organize training sessions in the pilot courts to better inform magistrates and court personnel of the changes to come in provision of legal aid.
“We no longer want to be labelled as producing crime and violence. We have been inspired as a group to create articles focusing on the good in our communities by using social media,” stated Navare Harriott of St. Andrew Parish at the end of a two-day citizen journalism workshop hosted by Tt DPK’s USAID-funded Community Empowerment and Transformation Project (COMET II). Navare was one of 25 youths from target communities who participated in the workshop on June 30 and July 1.
The objectives of the workshop were to introduce Jamaican youth to a “culture of lawfulness” and build their ability to showcase lawfulness within their communities through social media. The participants, 18 young women and 7 young men, are members of police youth clubs, citizen associations, parent
teacher associations, faith-based organizations, and community development committees.
Damion Mitchell, online and radio editor at The Gleaner (Jamaica’s oldest and largest newspaper), provided tips on how to prepare stories that highlight communities and capture the attention of the audience. This workshop is one of several COMET II activities aimed at increasing citizen participation and youth engagement to improve safety and security in Jamaican communities.
Billboards in Afghanistan Raise Community Awareness about Human Rights
Rule of Law Stabilization Program in Afghanistan erected billboards in six provinces in Kabul with messages for the community on their right to a fair trial and the prevention of forced marriages. The RLS Program is building community knowledge on Afghan law and human rights norms through media.
Billboard in Bulkh province near old prison in Kabul "In the courts in Afghanistan, trials shall be held openly and every individual shall have the right to attend in accordance with the law… Afghan Constitution - Article 128, Independent Commission for Overseeing the Implementation of the Constitution"
Billboard in Kapisa province at the Kaldan Square"A matron should not be given in marriage except after consulting her; and a virgin should not be given in marriage except after her permission." (Sahih ul Bukhari, Hadith 5136)
PROJUSTICE Project Works to Reduce Pretrial Detention
Seventeen-year-old Chery Paulson had been living with his sister on the street and in shelters since their parents died. Arrested in April 2011 for theft and criminal association, he began a nightmarish 34-month odyssey through Haiti’s criminal justice system, which only ended with the help of Tt DPK’s PROJUSTICE project. Chery was held in police custody for 4 months before seeing a judge – a violation of the Haitian Constitution which requires judicial review within 48 hours of arrest. After his judicial appearance he was returned to jail to await completion of the investigation (as bail is not commonly practiced in Haiti).
Chery was still at the penitentiary in December 2011 when he was interviewed by PROJUSTICE’s pretrial detention team. Following PROJUSTICE’s petitions to the court, Chery was called to trial in July 2012, convicted, and sentenced to 1 year in prison. With credit for time served, the court ordered his release for August 30, 2012, 16 months after his arrest.
Chery’s case is not unique. Many prisoners in Haiti’s prisons languish for months or years before seeing a judge; others remain in prison even after they have completed their sentences. As of January 2014, there were 10,386 men, women, and minors in detention in Haiti, of whom 7,419 (72%) were pretrial detainees.
Since 2009, Tt DPK’s USAID-funded PROJUSTICE project has been working with Haitian governmental and non-governmental partners to address the problem of prisoners in excessive or illegal pretrial detention. Lost and disorganized files, absence of official follow-up, and a lack of clear communication channels among the different actors in the criminal justice system are some of the key causes. Chery’s case unfortunately exemplifies all of these, although the pretrial detention landscape in Haiti is clearly improving due to PROJUSTICE’s efforts
In two of PROJUSTICE’s target jurisdictions, Saint-Marc and Fort Liberté, the average lengths of pretrial detention were approximately 4 months as of July 2013, while in a third jurisdiction, Cap-Haïtien, the average length was 8.6 months. Although still beyond the roughly 4-month period allowed by Haitian law to formally indict or release a person accused of a crime, Cap-Haïtien’s 8.6-month average is down 2.4 months from its average of January 2013, reflecting the impacts of PROJUSTICE’s pretrial detention work. The project’s target jurisdictions are making significant gains in reducing the average duration of pretrial detentions, few jurisdictions, including Saint-Marc and Fort-Liberté, have all but eliminated the problem.
Sadly, Chery’s case did not end with his court-ordered release date of August 30, 2012. In May 2013, PROJUSTICE discovered that Chery was still in prison and immediately resumed advocating for his release at the court and prosecutor’s office. On December 30, 2013, the prosecutor issued a release order but this was not received by the prison authorities until delivered by PROJUSTICE legal assistants on January 10, 2014. Chery Paulson was finally released that same day, a full 34 months after his arrest.
A few days later, Chery stopped by Tt DPK’s PROJUSTICE office in Port-au-Prince to thank USAID and the project team for their support and assistance in obtaining his release. He had particular thanks for Josh Pazour, PROJUSTICE’s Senior Advisor for Pretrial Detention, and Rony Lenord of the PROJUSTICE pretrial detention team. Chery promised to learn from his mistakes and vowed to become a productive member of society.
MLDL Buu-Yao District Security Council: Reconciliation at Last
Where trouble had started, peace has begun. The atmosphere under the cool shade of the ancient tree in the center of Payglay town was one of jubilation. A traditional cultural troupe danced, sang, and drummed for more than 100 smiling and chatting people at a festive ceremony. The feeling of community harmony and fellowship was in the air. This was a far cry from the decades of enmity and conflict that had characterized the relationships between these communities located at the C?te d’Ivoire border where Liberia’s civil war first erupted. Through the sustained work of Tetra Tech DPK’s Mitigating Local Disputes in Liberia (MLDL) program, two long-standing bitter land disputes had been resolved amicably, and today the local communities were celebrating the official signing of the Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs), signaling the realization of peace at last.
The Nutuah family embraced the Yeaten family, signaling an end to the three-decades-long bitter land dispute
The disputes themselves had seemed intractable. One of the disputes originated in 1976, when the Yeaten family of Tiahplay town encroached upon the farmland of the Nutuah family of Mahnzoplay town. In 1983, a local traditional court ruled in favor of the Nutuah family, and the Yeaten family relinquished the disputed land, but continued to express their discontent. This exploded during Liberia’s civil war and during the 1990s, the Yeaten family forcibly took back the disputed land and even encroached further, under the protection of their son, then-Major-General of Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia, Benjamin Yeaten. Although now in 2013 Benjamin Yeaten is a fugitive in hiding, the Yeaten family continued to farm the ill-gotten land as the Nutuah family retaliated by encroaching on a parcel of Tiahplay land.
The local elders attempted to resolve this dispute many times, but to no avail. So when the Buu-Yao District Security Council and Gbloulay Community Forum, recently created by Tt DPK’s MLDL program, stepped in to resolve the dispute, local leaders were highly skeptical and expressed their doubts that reconciliation was possible. But doubts and disbelief turned to amazement and satisfaction. Trained by the Tt DPK MLDL program, the mediation team successfully guided the arduous alternative dispute resolution process over four days. The Yeaten family, after speaking of their hurts dating back to 1983 but after hearing the complaints of the Mahnzoplay people during the mediation process, agreed to let go the disputed land.
The Mahnzoplay community responded with open arms, agreeing to return the land they had taken in retaliation, welcoming the Yeatens back as family, and emphasizing that all past antipathy was forgotten. Wholehearted reconciliation was achieved and displayed at the MOU-signing ceremony: Nutuahs embraced Yeatens, communities were joyous, and traditional leaders gladly acknowledged that Tt MLDL’s success triumphed over skepticism. The traditional leaders and community members now have trust and confidence in mediation as introduced to their communities by the MLDL program, and will continue to use these methods in Liberia’s continuing path to reconciliation.
Iraq Access to Justice Program Grantee Successfully Advocates for Policy Change
In February, the Minister of Displacement and Migration issued a ministerial circular (Tamim) correcting his Ministry’s policy in the allocation of the $3,400 assistance payment given to returnees. This change comes as the result of an intervention by the Access to Justice Program, through its partner orga¬nization Mercy Hands for Humanitarian Aid. This policy change has the potential to significantly impact the nearly 70,000 refugees who returned to Iraq last year. The Tamim was issued after a woman was only awarded half of the cash assistance payment because of her status as a single woman with no children. The woman is financially responsible for caring for her mother and father — both of whom should be considered as her dependents. When she approached the Mercy Hands legal clinic for advice, the clinic’s legal team researched the matter and provided her with the legal justification necessary to file an appeal. The Ministry denied her appeal to be deemed head of household, on the grounds that she had already received (partial) payment. The Ministry considered the matter closed and would not consider her appeal. The Mercy Hands legal clinic brought this woman’s case directly before the Minister. After reviewing the case with his legal department, the Minister decided to award the full amount and issued the circular to change the policy for future cases. From now on, women in similar situa¬tions will be awarded the full amount.
Kabul University Hosts Its First-Ever Career Fair for Law and Sharia Students
Developing a career is as much about whom you know as what you know. However, networking can seem like a challenge for those entering the job market. Students at Kabul University recently received a boost in their job searches when the university held its first-ever career fair to introduce soon-to-be graduating students from its Law and Sharia faculties to potential employers in justice sector organizations and institutions. Over 450 students attended the event and met with representatives of over twenty Afghan government ministries, private law firms and international organizations, including USAID.
USAID’s Afghanistan Rule of Law Stabilization Program - Formal Component sponsored the career fair and conducted a series of workshops for students on resume writing, networking strategies and interviewing skills leading up to the event in order to help them make the most of the opportunity. The day began with a panel discussion from legal professionals from all walks of life including a judge, defense attorney, legal advisor, professor, prosecutor, Fulbright Scholar, legal intern, and an advisor from the Administrative Stage, a four-month training program for court clerks. The panelists discussed their career paths, offered advice on achieving a fulfilling legal career and answered questions from students.
Students then spent the afternoon visiting the booths of potential employers, putting a face with their resume. The students shook hands, asked questions, received giveaways, and submitted job applications. Zarlasht Stanikzai, a fifth year law student who studies at night, described the benefits of the career fair: “Previously, I knew of jobs at a few ministries, such as the Ministry of Higher Education and Ministry of Justice, and a few donor organizations. At the fair, I learned about many other organizations where I might be able to find a potential employment in the future.”
Ahmad Shekib, another fifth year law student, saluted the fair for its novel approach to career development. “A career fair is a new way of finding jobs in Afghanistan,” he said. “Such events provide good direction for students about to graduate by helping them to match their interests with available job opportunities.” USAID supports career fairs in order to encourage Law and Sharia students to continue their interest pursuing legal service and advocacy in support of the rule of law after they graduate.
Tt DPK Partners with Counterpart International to Implement the Ba Distrito Program in Timor Leste
In partnership with Counterpart International, Tetra Tech DPK recently began implementing the USAID-funded Ba Distrito Program in Timor Leste. Meaning “To the Districts,” the Ba Distrito Program will work toward further decentralization of governance into rural areas of the country and toward development of local legal aid and judicial systems. The result should be increased local involvement in policy making, improved linkages between the center and the periphery, and better access to justice and legal remedies when rights are violated. Tt DPK will focus on promoting legal aid and improving the quality, efficiency, and accessibility of judicial operations at the local level.
Tt DPK Begins Implementation of USAID’s Inaugural Rule of Law Project in Myanmar
USAID awarded Tt DPK a three-year, $8 million task order under the Rule of Law IQC to promote and protect the rule of law and civil liberties in Myanmar.
The Promoting the Rule of Law (PRL) Project will support development of a national rule of law strategy, more participatory and effective legislative drafting and policy making, strong judicial self-governance, and enhanced capacity of rule of law civil society organizations. The PRL Project will have a strong focus on enhancing rule of law in peripheral communities of Myanmar and building linkages between these communities and central governance and justice institutions.