Criminal Law Reform and Anti-Human Trafficking Strategies

Anti-human trafficking strategies

In Ukraine, ABA ROLI is implementing a program to enhance the capacities of the Ministry of Interior’s investigative units through improved investigation standards and standard operating procedures, which are based on bi-lateral treaties between Ukraine and regional countries and are subject to approval by the country’s Ministry of Interior, General Prosecutor’s Office and Supreme Court. They are used to develop an in-house training program and course curriculum for human trafficking investigators, ensuring a continuing legal education mechanism. ABA ROLI also produced a human trafficking investigation manual.

In Kyrgyzstan, ABA ROLI implements a program to strengthen the legal response to trafficking in persons (TIP), including prevention, prosecution and victim protection. The program aims to improve how TIP cases are addressed, investigated and prosecuted, and to enhance the skills of law enforcement personnel and legal professionals assisting TIP victims.

In Mongolia, ABA ROLI works in close collaboration with the Center for Human Rights and Development and National Center Against Violence. Our program will assist with coordinated public interest litigation to increase enforcement of existing laws and to advocate for witness-protecting laws. It will increase awareness of human trafficking among law enforcement officials and potential victims, specifically in poor urban areas and border areas. The program will also provide rehabilitation services to victims.


Police and forensic training

In Panama, ABA ROLI is promoting a culture of lawfulness and a greater understanding of criminal procedure code reforms among law enforcement officials. We conducted an initial evaluation of the police curriculum in the areas of ethics, due process and recent reforms to the Criminal Procedure Code. We also convened a working group for proposed modifications to police curricula. The group included training and investigations directors for the Panamanian police, justice sector operators and international experts.

To ensure more effective investigation, prosecution and adjudication of gender-based violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, ABA ROLI has conducted trainings for police officers in charge of investigating rape cases. The trainings focused on investigation techniques, evidence collection, ethics and cooperation between the police and the prosecutor’s office.

In Algeria, Bulgaria, Morocco and Oman, ABA ROLI has trained investigators, prosecutors and judges on international cyber crime standards. The trainings included sessions on online crimes against children and on computer crimes and network systems, including online financial fraud. ABA ROLI assisted with the creation of a fully equipped cyber crime training center in Sofia. To make its cyber crime work more effective, ABA ROLI partners with relevant private sector actors, such as eBay and VISA, and organizations including the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Criminal procedure reform

ABA ROLI continues to serve as an advisor to the Ecuadorian working group on the new criminal procedure code. During the working group’s weekly meetings, which build local support for a national criminal justice forum, ABA ROLI staff provides technical assistance, materials and presentations for discussion. While the country has transitioned from an inquisitorial to an adversarial system, these meetings enhance the understanding of how an adversarial system operates and to alleviate issues in confidential investigations, rules of evidence, pretrial stipulations and changes in the roles of police, prosecutors, judges and defense lawyers.

In China, ABA ROLI is working with New York University (NYU) School of Law and local partners to support pilot projects to inform China’s ongoing revision of its criminal procedure law. Coordinating with Renmin University of China, ABA ROLI and NYU initiated a pilot project to develop and implement an independent and more transparent sentencing procedure. Currently, there is no differentiation between the guilt and sentencing phases in Chinese criminal trials, compromising transparency in sentencing. China University of Political Science and Law, ABA ROLI and NYU have launched pilot projects in two cities to develop and implement China’s first exclusionary rule procedure, with a particular focus on identifying and excluding evidence obtained through coercive interrogation methods. Both projects involve empirical research to understand current practices and to establish baseline data, comparative research to examine other countries’ practices, training for local justice system actors and ongoing technical assistance during implementation.

Georgia has begun implementing a jury trial system, provided under its newly enacted criminal procedure code. ABA ROLI, in cooperation with local and international non-governmental organizations, legal professionals and experts, has convened discussions on effectively incorporating this system into Georgia’s legal structure. We have also worked with Georgian officials to create a handbook with uniform jury instructions.


Fair trial standards training

In Moldova, ABA ROLI, in cooperation with the Moldovan Bar Association, trained recently licensed attorneys on the applicability of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in their practice. The training focused on articles three—prohibition of torture—and five—right to liberty and safety. ABA ROLI has also developed a handbook on Moldovan and European standards for defendants’ fair trial rights from the start of an investigation through an ECHR appeal. Designed to improve understanding of fair trial rights among judges, prosecutors, lawyers, law enforcement and educators, the handbook discusses key ECHR decisions against Moldova. It identifies a criminal defendant’s rights set forth in the ECHR, breaks each right down into its constituent parts and provides citations to the applicable ECHR and Moldovan legal provisions, ECHR case law, as well as additional explanatory materials. It also includes the full text of the ECHR and a research guide providing links to useful websites.

In Azerbaijan, Russia and Central Asia, ABA ROLI continues to train judges, advocates and prosecutors in international fair trial standards. These efforts not only further compliance with these important standards and identify mechanisms for redress, but also promote the principle of equality of arms of the judiciary—a principle rarely observed since prosecutors still maintain the majority of power in many Eurasian countries.

Although Armenia has a legal framework to protect human rights and redress violations, these guarantees have rarely been put into practice. An insufficient number of human rights cases are being litigated domestically and appealed internationally. To alleviate the situation, ABA ROLI organized workshops for Armenian advocates, prosecutors, investigators and public defenders on filing an effective petition to the European Court of Human Rights and on applying its jurisprudence to domestic cases. The workshops also encouraged discussion, networking and constructive communication among the participants, helping them develop litigation strategies and plans for raising public awareness of human rights.


Trial advocacy skills training

In cooperation with the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, ABA ROLI has provided trial advocacy skills training to prosecutors, defense lawyers and judges throughout the Central Europe and Eurasia region and in Ecuador. In Russia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan, selected legal practitioners have participated in advanced training. In Georgia, ABA ROLI compiled a trial advocacy manual and assisted with the development of a national trial advocacy advisory board, which now administers the trainings.

In Kosovo, ABA ROLI held the first mixed-race practical legal skills workshop attended by 23 Serbian and Kosovar Albanians. The workshop allowed Serb and Kosovar Albanian students to interact with one another, while building their lawyering skills. The students learned how to identify legal issues and develop factual arguments, conduct direct and cross examinations, and act in various roles—those of a judge, prosecutor, victim and witness.

In China, ABA ROLI, in partnership with the All China Lawyers Association’s Criminal Law Committee and Northwest Politics and Law University in Xi’an city, launched China’s first online criminal defense skills training program in 2008. Based on successful online skills training methodologies developed in the U.S., the Chinese curriculum draws on the expertise of leading Chinese criminal defense lawyers and criminal law professors. It covers fundamental trial advocacy skills, including client interview, pretrial investigation, and presenting and challenging evidence in court. The five-week curriculum employs interactive multimedia, allowing trainees to review written background materials and video presentations, and to interact weekly with trainers and with each other through message boards and real-time chat rooms. The program targets lawyers in western China, where barriers of distance and geography have isolated them from the training resources and other professional development opportunities available in more developed regions, hindering the development of a strong criminal defense bar. Since 2008, more than 180 lawyers, from five western Chinese provinces, have completed the online courses.