Promoting Access to Justice: a study on Strategies to Implement Collaborative Dispute Resolution Mechanisms and Procedures for Resolving Conflicts in Liberia Liberian Ministry of Justice By Christopher W

Chapter 10 – Standards and Criteria for Selection of a Pilot

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Chapter 10 – Standards and Criteria for Selection of a Pilot

Having standards and criteria to guide the selection of the pilot can help the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) and other concerned partners make informed and wise decisions on where their efforts should be focused. Listed below are suggestions for standards and criteria drawn from conversations with Ministry of Justice officials, those in other government agencies and interviewees and participants in focus groups in targeted counties.

The pilot should:

  • Be aligned with the “Respect, Protect and Remedy” Framework of the United Nations

  • Address one or more kinds of disputes that citizens/stakeholders think are important to resolve

  • Address perceived gaps in institutional arrangements, legal requirements or authorities, service providers or services for dispute resolution provided to citizens

  • Help address and resolve one or more issues currently handled by statutory courts, which could be handled by customary authorities or other government-provided/sponsored dispute resolvers

  • Promote coordination and harmonization between statutory laws and court procedures and customary law and procedures for dispute resolution

  • Clarify authorities and jurisdictions of service providers and define how disputes may be moved from one dispute resolution mechanism, process and service provider to another (customary to statutory and statutory to customary)

  • Focus primarily on broadening and enhancing services and skills of existing dispute resolution mechanisms, procedures and service providers, but, if needed or required, create new ones

  • Fall within the mandate and authorities of the Ministry of Justice, and require minimal institutional coordination with other Ministries or government entities to implement

  • Have a high level of commitment and support by MOJ partners or other concerned government agencies, their personnel, customary communities and leaders who will be involved in implementation

  • Require minimum legal, legislative or regulatory changes, or easily obtained variances, so that the initiative can be rapidly implemented

  • Be implemented within the parameters of available funding

  • Provide a viable model for provision of collaborative dispute resolution services that will be attractive for future support and funding from the Government of Liberia and international donors

  • Provide a model for expansion of similar programming and dispute resolution services in other counties or to resolve other types disputes

  • Enhance and build new capacities of Liberian dispute resolution service providers that will be applied to disputes that are the focus of the pilot, and in the future to resolve other types of conflicts

Chapter 11 – Potential Options for the Pilot

Input from focus groups, interviews and research for the Desk Review identified a number of possible focuses, institutional structures, mechanisms, procedures and dispute resolution service providers for a pilot. In general, interviewees and participants in focus groups emphasized building on and enhancing existing institutions, procedures and providers rather than creating entirely new ones. However, they were not closed to exploring potential new options for the provision of dispute resolution services if they would enhance citizens’ access to justice.

This chapter presents a range of choices for the pilot with options for focuses on diverse types or categories of disputes, mechanisms, services and service providers. The future pilot could focus on: 1) only one type or category disputes, one mechanism, related procedures and a specific type of service provider (such family disputes being resolved by customary authorities through customary procedures, or a similar focus of government supported or sponsored intermediaries serving as family mediators in the courts); 2) one type or category of disputes, with multiple mechanisms and service providers providing assistance in different parts of the country(such as land disputes with customary authorities and other intermediaries using customary procedures, mediation and/or arbitration in rural and urban areas); 3) a cluster of similar and related disputes, in rural and urban areas (with the latter often in court), using a combination of customary and mediation procedures provided by customary authorities and other government dispute resolution providers (such as a focus on the resolution of minor criminal offenses and pre-trial detention, in both community and urban contexts issues using customary procedures or mediation by customary or other intermediaries); or 4) the resolution of a range of types of disputes by one or more mechanisms and procedures by diverse service providers (such as a civil dispute resolution mechanism that would handle a range if types of disputes using diverse procedures and service providers).

Potential Types of Disputes for the Pilot’s Focus

There were several categories of disputes that participants in focus groups, interviewees and the Desk Review identified as being both the most common and very important to efficiently and effectively resolve. Each type could be the focus of a pilot or multiple pilots. The categories with the broadest support were: 1) a range of family disputes, and 2) land disputes (including housing and other property issues).

A second set of categories for possible focus of the pilot, with smaller but still a significant degree of support, included: 1) minor criminal cases, 2) disputes or offenses involving juveniles, and 3) pre-trial detention issues. (Customary authorities who participated in interviews or focus group meetings were opinion leaders for a pilot where they helped to resolve minor offenses, which could include juvenile offenses and pre-trial issues.

A Third set of conflicts that interviewees, focus group participants and the Desk Review indicated were important to resolve, but not as common as those listed above included disputes over payment of debts, breaches of contracts, landlord-tenant issues, employer-employee relations, obligations to engage in activities of benefit to the community (such as brushing roads and trails), and religious issues and practices. (It should be noted that a pilot with multiple focuses could also address some of the family, land, minor criminal and juvenile disputes mentioned earlier.)

The fourth set of disputes identified by focus groups included 1) disputes between communities, and 2) disputes between communities and concessions. These are principally intergroup disputes, and may potentially be beyond the scope of issues appropriate for the current pilot.

Next Steps for the MOJ and its Partners

The initial tasks at this time for the MOJ and its partners are to:

  1. Select one or more types of disputes that will be the focus of the pilot.

  2. Determine the institutional home where the governance, management and services of the pilot (the mechanism) will be located (such as within the MOJ, the Judiciary, specific Courts, other partner organizations, customary communities, or a combination or partnership of the above).

  3. Specify the preferred procedures be used by the pilot to resolve disputes (e.g. customary dispute resolution, mediation, arbitration and so forth).

  4. Specify the preferred service providers who should be the focus of the pilot

  5. Identify individuals from the key institutions that will or need to be involved in the pilot, who will participate in a future Designshop – a workshop to develop a plans and strategies to implement the selected pilot.

Presented below is more detailed information on several potential focus areas for the pilot, institutional arrangements for the mechanism, dispute resolution approaches and procedures potential service providers and other implementation issues. The ones presented first, and in much more detail, are those identified by interviewees and participants in focus groups for this study as being the most important to consider addressing and resolving Some additional options, also identified by interviewees and focus groups participants, are presented later, with less detail on how they might be implemented. If any of these later options are selected for the pilot, a detailed implementation plan will be developed so that they too, are aligned with the “Recognize, Protect and Respect” Framework.

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