2020 was a critical year for RWI’s work in the field of ‘Fair and Efficient Justice’ despite – and also because of – the Covid-19 pandemic. We had to postpone or adjust numerous planned activities. Many of them were taken online: a tough prospect when the Institute’s approach to justice sector capacity development emphasises hands-on, practical training.
The pandemic has proven particularly challenging for our various partnerships with correctional services internationally, with access to prisons generally restricted.
Nonetheless, RWI and partners were able to achieve many significant results during the course of the year.
Highlights included the establishment of a new programme in Armenia, cooperating inter alia with the Ministry of Justice on fulfilment of the National Human Rights Action Plan, as well as with academic institutions on clinical legal education. In Cambodia, judge- and prosecutor-students were trained in fair trial rights, including gender equality.
The Institute also developed a course on fair trial rights for the Academy of the General Prosecutor’s Office of Uzbekistan. “We further sought to respond to the justice-related human rights challenges presented by the pandemic,” Josh adds. “This included developing research-driven policy briefs in Kenya, Zimbabwe and regionally in East Africa on the implications for fulfilment of international standards in the justice sector.”
Towards post-pandemic improvements
Looking forward, RWI will continue to develop its work on Fair and Efficient Justice in 2021, including through further expansion of its cooperation on clinical legal education in countries from Armenia to Zimbabwe, by way of Cambodia, Cuba, Ethiopia, Sweden, and beyond.
“While criminal justice cooperation will remain difficult due to the ongoing restrictions, we are currently mapping and analysing developments in the countries where we work”, says Josh, “this to inform future programming geared towards helping ensure that lessons learned from the crisis are translated into new and improved human rights practices post-pandemic.”
We also look forward to contributing to the development of proposed new international human rights standards on the reduction of reoffending, with implications across the spectrum of justice sector agencies.
“The pandemic ‘pause’ also proved a perfect opportunity for RWI to focus in Kenya on regulatory frameworks, supporting the government to develop a progressive new national correctional services policy aligned with relevant human rights standards.”
Josh Ounsted, Head of the Thematic Area ‘Fair and Efficient Justice’