International Development Law Organization

Notes From The Field

Like all other parts of public life, the administration of justice and access to legal remedies and dispute resolution have been severely disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The notes series ‘Rule of Law in the time of COVID-19’ provides a perspective from the field of how the justice system has been affected by the pandemic and how national justice actors are responding and adapting to the situation. By documenting responses and practices by those working in some of the world’s most complex environments, the notes seek to provide a better understanding of opportunities and challenges for promoting the rule of law during this extraordinary time.

The notes series aims to provide an in-country snapshot from the perspective of IDLO’s country offices.


The Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is actively implementing strategies to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, protect public health and guarantee human rights as well as maintain the rule of law by, among other things, maintaining access to vital public services, including the justice system.

The current pandemic has had a significant impact on the judiciary and court system, prosecutorial services, criminal defense counsel, legal assistance providers (including civil society) and on other government entities as well as Afghanistan’s legal framework.

To help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the Afghan justice system, IDLO is responding to a series of requests by Afghan justice sector actors and institutions.

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Jordan was among the first countries in the Middle East to introduce systematic measures to respond to COVID-19. The Government of Jordan moved swiftly to mitigate the spread of the virus, protect public health and provide necessary medical treatment for those infected, in addition to maintaining essential public services. A tough lockdown helped to contain the disease and keep the number of recorded cases low.

The economic impact of the lockdown and other emergency measures has been severe. To mitigate the impact on the population, the government launched various measures to ensure social protection and development. In addition, the government ramped up various economic programs to support households and businesses.

IDLO, together with its local civil society partners, is developing interventions to enhance the ability of the commercial and economic legal systems to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak and address its long-term impacts on small and medium enterprises and smaller businesses, especially those owned by women.

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As in other contexts, an outbreak of COVID-19 in Mongolia presented a particular risk to the country’s fragile health care system and sluggish economy. To avoid even greater adverse impacts on these systems, the Government of Mongolia took early and immediate action which proved successful in keeping COVID-19 from spreading to the community.

An unintended consequence of Mongolia’s efforts to contain transmission was the increased incidence of gender-based violence (GBV) in a country with pre-existing high rates. COVID-related measures such as the closure of schools, loss of wages for certain sectors due to restrictions, and increased isolation resulted in even higher rates of GBV.

In response, IDLO is assisting justice seekers and justice providers in Mongolia in dealing with the impact of COVID-19 on women and victims of GBV.

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The first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Kenya on 13 March 2020. The Government of Kenya has put in place a very robust testing, contact tracing and treatment response.

The Chief Justice directed all court houses to close to the public, and instructed each court station to operate with three members of the judiciary (a judge/magistrate, a court administrator and a court assistant to serve as a customer care service desk contact). The judiciary is increasing its use of ICT to enable judges and magistrates to deal with cases, including e-filing of judgments, video conference remand hearings for prisoners in custody, and the delivery of court judgments through video conferencing and skype.

IDLO has held consultations with key partners/stakeholders to enable continued program implementation while considering the impact of COVID-19, and as a result has identified interventions to be accelerated or enhanced in order to improve access to justice and promote the rule of law.

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In Honduras, the COVID-19 outbreak is causing unprecedented disruption and worsening vulnerabilities. With a population of more than 9 million people, Honduras is one of the poorest countries in Latin America. According to official data, almost half of the population lives in poverty. Inequality is among the most pervasive in the region and the world.

The health emergency – combined with a health system that was already struggling to provide basic services to the population, weak institutions and governance, shortages and privatization of water resources, and exploitation of natural resources – is impacting disproportionately the most vulnerable in Honduran society, including women, children, prisoners and detainees.

To support the government’s efforts to strengthen the rule of law, IDLO is taking immediate and effective action to support its national counterparts to protect citizens, safeguard human rights and promote justice.

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The Philippines

As in other contexts, the COVID-19 outbreak in the Philippines risks exacerbating systemic challenges already faced by vulnerable groups. These challenges include prison overcrowding, case backlog in the justice system, unequal access to health care and social services, ongoing conflict, and corruption.

IDLO has had to shift its capacity-building support to the Prosecution Service and other partners to virtual platforms and remote learning. This includes delivering specialized training on investigation and prosecution of drug crimes and trial advocacy training, which will assist prosecutors in dealing with traditional types of legal cases as well as new aspects and challenges arising in the context of the pandemic.

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Image credits (from top to bottom):
Facebook / Afghan Ministry of Public Health, Facebook / Afghan Ministry of Public Health, Judicial Institute of Jordan, IDLO, Facebook / WHO Kenya, IDLO, ILO/Minette Rimando