On a recent trip to a Central Asian preliminary detention center, the custodians proudly showed us the new ventilation system to prevent from spread of TB – a cut-in window directly across the door. It was impressive to see this aim to adhere to international standards and recognition of the existence of standards for prisons, while still disturbing how scarce the resources are to protect the prisoners and the guards from disease and squalor. Improvement is incremental; what it will take is consistency of approach, long-term investment and most importantly, will and commitment from all parts.
Sustainable reform of the justice sector is slow, sometimes painful and not always linear in practice. This year marks the tenth anniversary of IDLO’s work in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA).
Corruption is an endemic and prevailing obstacle to justice sector reform. Without addressing the issue, change is short-lived. IDLO has been keen to mainstream anti-corruption efforts into its work with the judiciary, prosecutors and public administration.
In Ukraine, IDLO – together with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) – has been working with the dedicated anti-corruption agencies, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau and Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor to fight corruption.
In Kyrgyzstan, IDLO has been working to address corruption through the implementation of an anti-corruption plan and enactment of relevant legislation. In addition, IDLO has been involved in improving HR and training policies of justice sector actors, which, in turn, make them less vulnerable to corruption and pressure.
Improved economic law frameworks and institutions
Due to its decade-long collaboration with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), IDLO has become one of the key partners for improving commercial law frameworks in the region.
In the last quarter, IDLO continued working with judges, regulators and court decision enforcement agents on how to make justice work better with the economy. A new project, launched in partnership with EBRD in Tajikistan, is looking to address the weak capacity of implementing court orders, while in Montenegro judges were trained on alternative dispute resolution.
Public procurement reform is another area of our work, where increasing effectiveness and transparency can not only bring up to 10% of public expenditure back into the government’s coffers (according to World Bank figures) but can also jump start economically depressed regions, where small and medium businesses tend not to view government contracts as potential for growth. IDLO Public Procurement Lead, Levon Hovsepyan, describes the impact of our work on implementing better public procurement regulations and practices as "seeds of transparency, effectiveness and justice planted to blossom for years to come."
Building on successes, incremental approach.
While IDLO starts operations from scratch in many jurisdictions, it is always focused on capturing know-how and translating it into expanded and improved programming. The fast-changing and improving field of e-justice offers one of the best examples. IDLO has been working in the EECA region on different aspects of e-justice, from case management to designing platforms for decision publication.
In Kyrgyzstan, IDLO - with support from INL - has launched a new project on prosecutorial reform, which will support the creation of a Women Prosecutors Organization to be modeled on the Women Judges Association, also supported by IDLO.
Meanwhile in Mongolia, IDLO is addressing an escalating epidemic of domestic violence through legislative reform and capacity building, aimed at changing both first response effectiveness and attitudes of the agencies responsible for handling the cases.
By Margarita Milikh, IDLO Regional Program Manager