It is recognized that the ongoing efforts to enhance access to justice and public security in Liberia through capacity building initiatives will not have maximum impact without corresponding efforts to develop institutional capacity. Accordingly, strategic planning processes have been undertaken in Liberia over the last four years, across the justice and security sectors, with a view to identifying key areas for institutional development and how best these weaknesses can be addressed. Whilst progress has been made in the implementation of these strategic plans, accountability and management mechanisms remain underdeveloped and there is consensus that these areas need to be addressed as a matter of urgency so as to improve public trust in the justice and security sectors. Accordingly, this area was developed into a priority project under the Liberia Peacebuilding Programme and Justice and Security Joint Programme and was successful in obtaining PBF funding support. The project provided for reviews of the management and accountability mechanisms of justice and security sector institutions, with an initial focus on the police, prosecution and judiciary. This review was particularly pertinent at this time in Liberia, given development of regional Justice and Security Hubs (also supported by the PBF); effective management and accountability of personnel are essential for the Hubs to achieve their objective of bringing real justice and security services to the communities they serve.
Target organisation type(s)
Mandate outputs / products
The review addressed, inter alia, issues relating to personnel misconduct, integrity and standards of professionalism. It considered existing chain of commands, reporting obligations, the effectiveness of internal disciplinary measures and the possibilities for public complaint mechanisms. In addition to internal accountability mechanisms, the review considered the role and function of the relevant committee structures within the legislature as well as the roles of civil society and the media.
The project team developped a report, based on the review, broken down into each institution, with concrete recommendations for each institution as to actions to be taken to address weaknesses in management and accountability. The report also highlighted existing good practices and identify how they can be further developed. The report also included cross cutting recommendations, as appropriate. The recommendations were sequenced if necessary and identified those responsible for implementation.
The report was submitted for review by the Liberia component of the team, their respective institutions, and the Justice and Security Board and was finalised in a collaborative manner, possibly through an oral presentation of the draft report by the project team to the Board and a subsequent validation workshop (supported by the project team).
Outcome objectives of mandate
The mandate output was the review and production of a report with recommendations to improve management and accountability mechanisms with the justice and security sectors. However, the review itself was not the end point, but simply the start of the process. It was expected that the implementation of the recommendations contained in the review report would add considerably to the institutional development of the police, prosecution and judiciary. It was expected that levels of professionalism would improve, due to more effective management structures within the institutions. This lead to the enhanced delivery of justice and security services to the Liberian population. Combined with increased oversight and accountability of justice and security sector personnel, including through the establishment of public complaints mechanisms, public confidence in the justice and security sectors strengthened considerably. It was noted that, as this project responded to an agreed commitment with the PBC - Government of Liberia Statement of Mutual Commitments, it was fully expected that the implementation of the recommendations developed through the review would receive all necessary support from the three branches of Government.
Specific Lessons Identified
- There was a gap in terms of planning once in the field. The team needed one extra person dedicated to taking appointments and arranging schedules.
- One more week in the field would have been useful to test some of the preliminary findings and ideas.
- UNDP-UNMIL communication was not great. Many gaps lead to misunderstandings.
- It is a very political environment so every decision had to be run by all concerned which considerably slowed down the process.
- A Letter of Agreement was signed between ISSAT and UNDP to facilitate funding of this mission. This framework was not required by UNDP but ISSAT searched for acceptable frameworks of agreement that UNDP is familiar with and works with inorder to ensure payment by UNDP.
- As a result of this LoA, ISSAT got its funding as a lump sum; however, the team had to submit a financial report to UNDP.
- The LoA held specific clauses on Security issues for ISSAT which. Approved by UNDSS??
- Team received badges and phones and full time driver by UNDP.
One member of the team was from ISSAT’s roster. This was his first time working with ISSAT: very little bureaucracy, planning and logistics of highest order!
- It is unclear here whether this should be the way forward for ISSAT’s work with UNDP, in particular because ISSAT has been paid by UNDP in the framework of two previous 2013 mandates (Somaliland and Guinea) without having to sign any LoA. This matter has to be examined further.
- The review teams were made up of a big number of people whose time was not dedicated 100% to the process. As a result, ISSAT had to hold the pen and lead the process forward; although they were supposed to be facilitators of the process with the DRSG office and the Justice and Security Board acting as overall monitoring bodies.
- What also contributed to that fact was that ISSAT was full time committed to this process and was able to attend all meetings which was not the case of the others.
- ISSAT had the technical responsibility of delivering the product and so could not risk not taking the lead on the process.
- The big size of the team was not operational in some cases. Too many people were involved with no clear indication as to how to move forward. Action plans for each sub-team should have been done as mentioned in the ToRs.
- UNDP/UNMIL did not spend enough time ironing out the linkages between police-justice and prosecution.
- Preparation by the UN should have been more in-depth, the overall objective of the mission should have been better clarified.
- ToRs were extremely exhaustive and clear. However they kept to the overall framework which was their added-value once team arrived to the field and gave them enough flexibility to adapt them to their work.
- ToRs were shared with Sollicitor General and he commented on them.
- ToRs were also approved by the Justice and Security Board which had national counterparts on it which secured some level of commitment since the outset.
- There were three teams handling the different aspects of the review: police, prosecution and judiciary.
- Should have organised one session (1/2 day) for approach planning to have everybody on the same page (some team members were not even aware of what was governance of oversight).
- The process of selection of team members was unclear.
- Each team should have had one person helping on schedule planning. The police team had one and the prosecution partly had one but the judiciary team had none.
- Ownership and partnership is important but people have to be committed.
- ISSAT was criticised by UNDP that they led the process too much in the field. ISSAT presented the preliminary results in front of stakeholders and UNDP saw that as a UN job.
- Working with the different partners on the field was challenging. Some partners refused to commit staff and those who were assigned to the process were not really committed or lacked the right capacity (UNDPKO and UNDP didn’t want to commit people to this process).
- ISSAT held the main pen throughout the whole process because they assessed if they didn’t, the output won’t be delivered on time.
- Team member was Special Assistant of SRSG in charge of RoL and this was a significant link in terms of organizing the whole mission.
- Related to the above point the role of this team member was key in terms of mobilizing the DRSG office to exert pressure on stakeholders to contribute.
- UNDP CO was in every major meeting and was kept in the loop regarding any relevant issues to the mission.
- Special Assistant to UN police Commissioner, SSR Adviser to SRSG and DR SRSG Office for RoL were kept in the loop.
- This high level mobilisation ensured that stakeholders remained committed and contributed actively.
- Police sub-team worked very well. There was clear leadership by UN Police Commissioner and LNP Commissioner. The UNDP representative was extremely experienced and contributed actively to the process.
- The sub-team had also a clear set of objectives that everybody was working towards. The team was task oriented and didn’t question the objectives.
- Partly related to that was the fact that the police sector was a clear-sighted one that knew exactly what kind of support they needed from the government.
- Also, this work dynamic could have been a result of the fact that the police force is a task-oriented disciplined one.
- Ownership and partnership is important but people have to be committed.
- Gender-related questions were included in the questionnaires initially but slowly had to be omitted because there was no sufficient time to dedicate to that aspect. As a result gender was not reflected in the report.
- Gender aspects were not mentioned in the ToRs.
- Police team dealt with gender issues as an integral part of the main issues they were examining. For example: for personnel management: recruitment of females and males, retainment of females and males, etc.
- Also looked at the overall arching strategy that the police needs which will have gender as an aspect of it.
- Need to plan for time and resources to include gender considerations and this needs to be part of the ToRs.