Court of Appeal to Provide Targeted Training for Administrative Staff

31 Jul 2013

image MARÇAL MASCARENHAS, SUAI PUBLIC DEFENDER IN MALIANA MOBILE COURT. PHOTO: SLAVA MYSAK/UNDP TL

Timor-Leste’s Courts have launched the first systematized training program specifically designed for court staff. This major new training initiative, supported by system-wide procedural improvements, will involve all administrative staff and is based on a comprehensive need assessment designed to ensure consistent implementation across all judicial districts. (Lee versaun Tetum iha ne'e)

The training, which begins in September and will conclude in June 2014, will target both the 28 experienced, and the 26 trainee clerks and administrators. It is being supported by UNDP’s Justice System Programme (JSP).

“This training is being done in a new way. It is not a one-off training, but a systematic programme that will combine theoretical, practical and on-the-job learning”, said Dr. Claudio Ximenes, President of the Court of Appeal during the 19 July launch. “This kind of training is an important way to improve the skills of each staff member and thereby strengthen the overall efficiency of the court.”

The JSP has supported training for justice sector officials at the Legal Training Centre (LTC) in Dili since 2005. However, the focus has tended to be on judicial, not administrative, staff who equally want and need training. Additionally, the difficulties of travelling to the capital and of back-stopping staff, limits the ability of most district-based justice officials to attend courses at the LTC. As a result, district-based staff can only attend trainings at the LTC during the judicial holidays when the courts are closed, which further restricts their access to training and development. Expanding the training from Dili out to the districts will allow for greater scheduling flexibility and increased staff participation, while ensuring that the courts continue to function as normal.

Strengthening the capacities of justice officials, particularly those based in the districts, through on-going training will be a key plank of the JSP’s new Programme phase, due to start in November 2013.

Dr. Ximenes stressed that the training is linked to several other measures which will further strengthen the courts and staff performance. The courts will overhaul procedures to ensure the same procedures are used throughout the country, and court forms will be simplified to make them more comprehensible for the recipients. The training will be reinforced by the preparation of a reference manual for staff. Most importantly, the training will support implementation of an electronic case management system scheduled to be introduced before 2014. Trainees and experienced staff will be taught differently, appropriate to their skills, but all will be given extensive training on the case management system.

Through this initiative, JSP is helping to bring a transformational change in the functioning of the justice system beyond the central level.  By extending the existing training possibilities beyond Dili, a significant impact can be made in increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of justice services at the local levels. In addition, by building local level capacities, the initiative also supports the new decentralization framework.

The training program is made possible by a US$500,000 grant from UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific. UNDP is also supporting the development and implementation of the new electronic case management system, known as Integrated Information Management System (IIMS). It has been delayed due, in part, to lack of sufficient skills within the courts, although other justice institutions are already using it. The training is closely linked to ensuring that all staff members have the necessary skills and knowledge to use IIMS effectively, as Dr Ximenes emphasized at the launch. The courts plan to start using IIMS by December 2013.