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April 30, 2014

ABA ROLI Winds Down its Program in Ecuador

April 2014

Having implemented several criminal law reform initiatives for seven years, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) ended its work in Ecuador on April 30. While it initially started as a small grant to combat a burgeoning human trafficking problem in the country, over the intervening years the program evolved and broadened to include a range of activities that support Ecuador’s transition to an accusatorial criminal justice system.

ABA ROLI trained more than 5,000 judges, prosecutors, police, public defenders, law students, law professors and private attorneys on their roles and responsibilities under Ecuador's new accusatorial criminal justice system. 

Through this work, ABA ROLI trained more than 5,000 judges, prosecutors, police, public defenders, law students, law professors and private attorneys on their roles and responsibilities under the new system.

Implemented in coordination with various justice sector institutions, including  the Attorney General’s Office, the judiciary and the National Police, ABA ROLI’s program designed and conducted workshops on those trial skills required under the oral, accusatorial system, on ethics and transparency, and on best practices for investigating and prosecuting transnational crimes, including human and narcotics trafficking, as well as money laundering.

In response to identified areas of need, more recent trainings focused on strengthening the investigation and the in-court testimony skills of members of the National Police and of its subsidiary, the Judicial Police Unit. ABA ROLI also developed specialized trainings for select police officers to prepare them to conduct future trainings. A total of 19 officers attended the trainings of trainers, and 12 of them have already led trainings alongside international experts.

Israel Ramirez, a Mexican public defender who helped conduct a workshop for police officers, said that the sessions taught participants “the underpinnings of the oral, accusatorial system, [equipping them with] the tools they need to face their roles.” He added that the courses helped the officers better understand direct- and cross-examination of witnesses and, as a result, they were better prepared to testify in court.

Ecuador’s future lawyers were also among the groups that benefited from ABA ROLI’s most recent trainings. From April 8–10, ABA ROLI held a trial skills workshop for 25 law students from the Universidad San Francisco de Quito. The two best-rated ABA ROLI-trained instructors, supervised by Al Amado, ABA ROLI country director in Ecuador, conducted this training.

Recent political developments in Quito made continued collaboration with local counterparts exceedingly difficult, leading to the termination of program activities. 

“[Our partners] certainly appreciate the trainings we have provided them,” said Amado. “It has been heartwarming to hear from so many people how much they valued our trainings and our work here and how sad they are to see us go.” Amado added that while ABA ROLI has done so much, there is still a lot of work to be done. “With the instructors now trained and ready to go, we leave it in their hands to continue building [stronger] institutions long after we are gone,” he said.

ABA ROLI’s Ecuador program—the longest-standing Latin American presence for ABA ROLI—was supported by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.

To learn more about our work in Ecuador, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at [email protected].