World leaders have committed to ending AIDS by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals, but stigma and discrimination remain significant obstacles. In particular, police are critical, front-line determinants of risk for many people living with HIV (PLHIV) and members of other key affected populations (KAPs). The negative impact of adverse police behaviors and practices on HIV risk is well documented, and these risks undermine global efforts to end AIDS. Far less well documented, and less common, are attempts to ameliorate this impact by working to change police behaviors.
To reform laws is to reform societies. At IDLO, this is something that we have had thirty years to learn. And there are no more important laws than fundamental laws – national Constitutions. One of greatest, the Constitution of the United States of America, has served that nation well for nearly a quarter of a millennium. Constitutions encapsulate a vision. In countries struggling to overcome trauma, as is the case of Kenya; struggling to be reborn, as in Somalia; or struggling to be born at all, as in South Sudan, Constitutions respond to a collective need for unity and renewal.
But Constitutions are also highly technical documents. They set the parameters for law and justice in a given jurisdiction. For this reason, they require legal resources and expertise unavailable in many developing nations. By providing those resources and expertise, IDLO is proud to have assisted several countries through complex constitutional processes.
IDLO's Victoria Harrison Neves, spoke to our Country Representative for Myanmar, Kartik Sharma, about the transition underway in that country, the opportunities for supporting the rule of law at this time, and the practicalities of working in such an environment.
IDLO - When did you arrive in Myanmar?
Rates of sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) remain high in Uganda due to cultural practices, continued internal displacement, and low capacity of the justice system. IDLO is working to advance accountability for SGBV crimes committed in times of or after armed conflict in Uganda.
It is well recognized that discrimination against people living with HIV and affected populations (such as injecting drug users and women in the sex industry) blocks HIV prevention efforts. Discrimination discourages HIV testing and can limit access to care and treatment services. IDLO is working to provide legal information and representation to HIV-affected and key populations in Benin. Through collaboration with local organizations, IDLO is building local capacity in Benin and strengthening the legal response to help those living with HIV assert their rights and address intolerance.
The Africa conference on rule of law and development opened in Dar es Salaam yesterday with over 140 delegates attending, including two former Presidents of Tanzania, Benjamin Mkapa and Jayak Kikwete.
The Upper House of the Afghan National Assembly has recognized the work of IDLO legal trainer and adviser Gul Ghutai Afzalyar with an award for her efforts to reform and clarify the Legislation for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (LEVAW) in Afghanistan.
The protracted civil war and the weak state control over territory in Somalia has enabled new criminal activities to take hold, including illegal checkpoints, maritime piracy, cybercrimes, money laundering and counterfeiting, human trafficking, extortion, terrorist financing, and the smuggling of weapons and food over Somalia’s porous borders. The Somali Federal Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and national police are well aware of these newer forms of criminality plaguing Somalia, but are unable to effectively combat them.
Ukraine has embarked on a wide-ranging process of reform, and the momentum is there to overcome a legacy of bureaucratic stagnation, arbitrariness and corruption. The government has committed itself to the long-term reform of the Ukrainian justice sector, and the President has developed a strategy that identifies the need for increased independence, transparency, competence, accountability and efficiency of the rule of law and justice institutions.
In 2010, the people of Kenya overwhelmingly voted in favor of a new Constitution, following a protracted struggle for constitutional reform spanning over two decades. Under the new Constitution, the elections of 2013 were the first in Kenya’s multiparty history with Electoral Dispute Resolution (EDR) processes in place. With these mechanisms, disputes can be resolved legally, peacefully and speedily – as opposed to resulting in violence or being allowed to drag through the courts.
In Burundi, land tenure registration is the primary way for the government to deal with the large number of land disputes across the country. A series of pilot programs aimed at resolving land rights issues have been initiated in recent years. To date, however, it is unclear whether these pilot programs have had their intended effect of reducing the number of land disputes.
Although Myanmar is a Party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, children in the country still suffer disproportionate risks of early marriage, sexual exploitation, trafficking, neglect and abuse. In order to address these challenges, in 2019, the parliament passed a new Child Rights Law which covers all aspects of a child’s life, including health, education, juvenile justice, children in armed conflict and alternative care arrangements. However, there is still a need to develop rules to guide the law’s implementation.
Corruption is a complex social, political and economic problem which undermines democracy, human rights and governance by weakening state institutions, eroding public confidence and hindering the pathway towards sustainable development. The 2019 Transparency International Global Corruption Barometer found that 80% of citizens of the Bahamas considered corruption in government to be an important issue.
In recent years, Jordan has taken steps and demonstrated political will to reform the justice sector and promote mediation and alternative dispute resolution as means not only to reduce court congestion and shorten the litigation process, but also to guarantee transparent and fair trials. Despite the use of mediation for several years, interest in mediation faded, and it is no longer perceived as a reliable mechanism for dispute resolution. There is therefore a strong need to re-establish mediation as an effective dispute resolution mechanism in the country.
Indonesia's Attorney-General’s Office (AGO) has identified differences between its methods for measuring the budget it needs to handle cases and the methods used by other bodies, including the Ministry of Finance, the National Planning and Development Agency and the State Audit Board. If the AGO's initial budget needs are not assessed correctly, this could potentially lead to a misjudgment of its budget allocation, its burn rate and expenditure, and its budget performance.
Until recently, court processes in the Kyrgyz Republic have not been automated. Manual or paper systems still are required and are the norm although automating all processes has started very actively. According the country’s National Target Program for Development of the Judiciary, automated information systems need to be expanded and rolled out to the whole judicial system, not only within all first instance courts, but also second and third instance courts.
Serbia has recently implemented several judicial reforms to modernize and improve the regulatory framework for mediation, such as the new Law on Mediation in 2014. By implementing the new legal framework on mediation, the number of registered mediators and of mediation cases in Serbia have both increased. However, the Supreme Court of Cassation still registers an excessive amount of backlogged cases.
Legal reform and institutional capacity building have been priorities for the Government of Mongolia since 2005, when a specific Government Agency for Fair Competition and Consumer Protection was established. However, the Government Agency for Fair Competition and Consumer Protection still has institutional weaknesses and has not always been able to effectively implement changes of the legal framework.
Español | English: Mexico has made significant efforts to modernize its criminal justice system, specifically regarding public security and strengthening the rule of law. The current justice system, which entered into force in 2016, is based on the presumption of innocence and includes police professionalization as a public policy.
It is only 25 years ago that Mali initiated its transition from dictatorship to a more inclusive democracy and a more equal society. In many ways it is, therefore, no great surprise that the country has not been able to either transcend personalised power politics or overcome critical socio-economic cleavages.