Rule of Law and Justice System Improvement

Overview

A functioning justice system that protects citizens, resolves disputes, and respects human rights is critical to a democracy.  However, meager resources, lack of training, and a complicated and antiquated legal system have resulted in a lack of access to judicial services for Haitian citizens.  Detainees without financial means can remain in pretrial detention for years in extremely difficult conditions. The situation was exacerbated following the January 2010 earthquake, in which the main judicial institutions collapsed in Port-au-Prince, killing and wounding senior judicial officials and civil servants and subsequently further weakening the justice sector. 
 
The USAID-funded PROJUSTICE project was launched in 2009 with the goals of strengthening the judiciary and increasing security through improved rule of law.  PROJUSTICE works closely with the Ministry of Justice and Public Security, the High Judicial Council, bar associations, judges, prosecutors, and other justice sector officials.  PROJUSTICE implements activities in the target juridictions of Cap-Haïtien, Croix-des-Bouquets, Fort-Liberté, Saint-Marc, and Port-au-Prince.
 

Objectives 

PROJUSTICE works to promote an efficient and fair judicial system as a key element in establishing stability and security, enabling economic development, and improving citizen confidence in government institutions.
 

Key Activities 

  • Provides legal assistance and assists judicial authorities to move illegal or prolonged pretrial detention cases toward final disposition in targeted prisons, including the National Penitentiary and the Women’s Prison
  • Provides technical and material support to justice sector personnel to reduce case processing times in Courts, Prosecutor’s Offices
  • Supports forums of the chiefs of jurisdiction to discuss specific issues and identify local solutions to reduce the rate of prolonged pre-trial detention
  • Provides technical assistance during criminal jury and non-jury trial sessions
  • Operates two law clinics in the Cité Soleil and Martissant districts of Port-au-Prince and works with the bars associations in four other jurisdictions—Saint Marc, Fort Liberte, Cap Haitien, and Croix des Bouquets—to provide free legal aid to indigent residents, detainees, and victims
  • Organizes training on alternative dispute resolution for community leaders, and provides mediation services in Martissant
  • Supports the Government of Haiti’s efforts to render operational the High Judicial Council by providing material, logistical, and technical support
  • Supports the Code Reform Commission created by the Ministry of Justice to modernise the criminal code and procedures, which date from 1837, and develop relevant legislation that will facilitate their implementation once passed by Parliament
 

Results (since October 2010):

  • Free legal services were provided to 9,500 low income and marginalized residents in project target jurisdictions, in partnership with the local bar associations.
  • 841 priority cases in illegal or prolonged pretrial detention were processed.  Of these cases, 664 were moved toward final disposition and 177 detainees were released.
  • 2,563 community leaders were trained to mediate family and other civil disputes.
  • 22,000 community residents were educated on their legal rights and responsibilities.
  • 32,000 case files destroyed or damaged by the earthquake in the Prosecutor’s Office and the Court of First Instance were reconstructed and filed in Port-au- Prince.
  • High profile criminal trials were made possible with PROJUSTICE’s material support, like the Les Cayes Prison Massacre trial of January 2010 and the January 2013 trial of the kidnapping gang in Cap-Haïtien, which both led to the conviction of senior Haitian National Police officers.
 

Additional Information

Budget: $19.8 million
Life of Project: July 2009 – July 2014
Implementing Partner: Tetra Tech DPK
 

 

Last updated: February 06, 2014

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