Legal aid has been at the core of the engagement of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) in the rule of law (RoL) sector since 2007 to help increase stability and security in the country. In particular, the Mission has been working with other international partners in order to expand the establishment of the Bureaux d’Assistance Légale (BAL) across Haiti.
A key partner of MINUSTAH, in this regard, is the Haiti Justice Sector Strengthening Programme (JSSP/USAID), funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). To facilitate the access of Haitians, particularly those who are indigent and vulnerable, to legal advice, legal representation and mediation services, JSSP/USAID aims to support improvements to the BAL and explore alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.
Managed by the local bar associations, the general objectives of the BAL are to:
- Provide legal assistance to indigent persons including those held in pre-trial detention;
- Reduce the length of pre-trial detention;
- Reduce the level of violence and criminality in disadvantaged neighbourhoods;
- Ensure that access to justice is respected as a right, and that it is systematically enforced in criminal proceedings;
- Deliver civic education, including the training of community leaders; and
- Provide mediation services as an alternative dispute resolution method.
As MINUSTAH proceeds with its transitional planning and JSSP/USAID plans further support to legal aid, in light of the need for further improvement, the streamlining of procedures and methodology, as well as the strengthening of programme coordination, development and operational effectiveness, it is opportune to take stock of the good practices and lessons learned from the BAL initiatives.
Such a lessons learned study will feed into planning for the MINUSTAH transition and help to consolidate the legacy of the United Nations in developing the rule of law sector in Haiti. It will also help inform the DPKO Headquarters, other United Nations peace operations and United Nations funds and programs regarding the approaches applied in Haiti.
In his implementation report, and following the High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO) report of 2015, the UN Secretary-General “instructed the Police Division to undertake an external review of functions, structure and capacity, and to present results in my forthcoming report on UN policing.”
The independent review of the Police Division should focus on the Headquarters functions needed to implement the SGF, as well as departmental priorities, and, on that basis, assess how the Police Division should be structured and staffed in order to deliver those functions.
DPKO is requesting ISSAT to participate in and provide secretariat support to the work of the panel undertaking the independent review.