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Since 2012 the Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management (PCJ) at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) has collaborated with Ethiopian government agencies and civil society organizations as they develop novel approaches to measuring and promoting improvement in justice and safety. Developing indicators is a familiar practice for justice leaders in Ethiopia, and they have existing experience applying measurement regimes to track performance targets across the sector. The collaboration with PCJ aims to deepen skill to develop active governance indicators.
The indicator development process is intended to help officials articulate, redefine, and adjust the goals, interests, and interventions according to what they discover and learn in the course of their construction. Governance indicators help align the operations of individual units and individual agencies with sector-wide strategic goals. They help managers balance competing objectives and optimize the use of scarce resources by cueing up a conversation about the meaning and value of results.
As part of the five-year engagement in Ethiopia funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the PCJ had active relationships with a number of institutions including: the Justice and Legal Systems Research Institute, and the Justice for All-Prison Fellowship Ethiopia. PCJ concluded its work with the Ethiopian Federal Police Commission in 2014.
The Justice and Legal Systems Research Institute of Ethiopia (JLSRI) has a mandate to provide research and analysis in support of policy and operations in justice institutions. As the home institution for a PCJ-affiliated Research Fellow, the JSLRI helps facilitate PCJ’s work in managing local relationships and projects with partners in the justice sector.
An important element of our collaboration is strengthening JLSRI’s role as a hub for indicator development assistance to the Ethiopian government and to the region. In May 2014 PCJ and JLSRI co-hosted an Indicator Methods Camp in Addis Ababa, at which Ethiopian government and non-state officials met with their counterparts from several other countries to jointly develop solutions to persistent problems of justice and safety that they nominated from their respective institutions. The event allowed participants to nominate persistent problems that they were working on, develop claims about potential causes and solutions, and receive constructive feedback on how indicators might help identify and manage successful strategies. The event culminated in the development of six prototype indicators that participants could further develop and pilot in their organizations. For example, the participatory approach shared in the Methods Camp inspired the officials from the Federal Supreme Court of Ethiopia as they developed and piloted a new, multidimensional judicial performance evaluation system. The new system is now officially implemented in Ethiopia’s federal courts.
In addition to the Methods Camp, PCJ conducted a series of four capacity building workshops for JLSRI researchers throughout 2016 to instill the thinking and practices of good indicator development. The workshop strengthened the Institute’s capacity to support government officials to align operational and policy decisions with strategic goals using indicators.
Justice for All-Prison Fellowship Ethiopia (JFA-PFE), an advocacy and capacity building non-government organization, is supporting one of the federal government’s efforts to develop a system of reintegrating prisoners back into society. The reintegration of former prisoners is an explicit goal for the justice sector laid out in the country’s Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) and aligns with other government’s initiatives aimed at increasing public satisfaction with the formal justice system. Comprehensive reintegration systems are a relatively new reform for criminal justice systems worldwide, and PCJ has partnered with JFA-PFE to explore how research and indicator development can help generate approaches to reintegration that comport with local ambitions and capacity.
JFA-PFE invited PCJ to co-facilitate a series of workshops with senior government, research, and NGO officials. In December 2013 the first workshop invited government officials to define the value that reintegration would bring to Ethiopian society and to take stock of what current practices are already in effect within government agencies. The workshop was a preliminary discussion on how to make reintegration move from the text of the GTP to a more tangible system that includes a shared vision across relevant institutions as well as specific programs to be carried out collectively or independently.
In August 2014 a second workshop entitled 'What does Successful Reintegration Require' brought together government officials to consider the specifics of what a new reintegration policy framework might look like and the tangible measures necessary to achieve these ideas. This workshop explored how the role of various agencies might evolve in managing the reintegration agenda, and drew lessons from other countries on what structures and strategies have worked or failed.
Since 2015, the PCJ has also worked with JFA-PFE in conjunction with the Oromia Supreme Court to (i) collate existing research on customary justice nationally, and (ii) study in depth the connection between customary and formal justice in select communities in Oromia where JFA-PFE ran a ‘restorative justice’ pilot later adopted by the Oromia Supreme Court. The collaboration generated new sources of information on the local provision of justice in Ethiopia.
Ethiopian Federal Police Commission
The Research Institute (the Institute) of the Ethiopian Federal Police (EFP) Commission worked between 2012 and 2014 with the assistance of PCJ to develop research and indicators that would support police leaders around the country as they aimed to put ‘community policing’ at the core of police operations. The collaboration began with PCJ supporting the Institute to design a survey of residents in four sub-districts in Addis Ababa where they were collaborating with the Addis Ababa Police to pilot community policing model. The survey asked residents questions about their perceptions of the police, their experiences of crime and other social problems, and their sense of safety. The PCJ team worked with the Institute to analyze the results, comparing them with other available information and past surveys. The Institute hopes this can contribute to learning about forms of community policing across the many regions of country, as well as deepening the capacity of the EFP to continue innovating in response to crime trends and changes in the public’s need for safety and security.
PCJ team members conducted three workshops with the EFP to support both police researchers and police leaders in the task of measuring and managing community policing.
The Federal Ministry of Justice
In 2012 and 2013 the Federal Ministry of Justice (MoJ) in Ethiopia worked with the PCJ to strengthen the capacity of the prosecution service to align measures of the performance of individual prosecutors with indicators for the strategic goals in the justice system. The MoJ used a fleet of indicators to monitor the results of complex operations, such as prosecution oversight of police investigations, and prosecutor-led mediation of minor disputes. The planning department reliably generates multiple measures each month, reporting on rates of conviction, mediation, etc. However, the MoJ leadership wanted to explore new measures that could go beyond monitoring and support them to balance the pressures to quickly conclude cases, ensure accountability for offenders, mediate conflicts where possible, and insist on legality in police conduct. The MoJ leadership also sought to encourage uniformity in the outcomes, but without discouraging discretion and other efforts to resolve conflicts in ways that are responsive to the needs of different neighborhoods and communities.
The collaboration resulted in a study of the relatively new, but very frequent practice requiring prosecutors to attempt to mediate parties to minor criminal disputes. This practice generated new opportunities as well as new strains for prosecutors as they aimed to balance efficiency, justice, and safety with the addition of this practice.
Ministry of Civil Service
In May 2014 the Ministry of Civil Service (MCS) asked PCJ for support to track progress of institutions against the Justice Sector Reform Program (JSRP). Since its inception twelve years ago, justice agencies, including the judiciary, prosecution, police, and prisons have undertaken more than 54 reform initiatives under the JSRP with many still ongoing. MCS recognized that reporting on these initiatives risks becoming rote procedure for implementing agencies without encouraging them to identify how core activities and new initiatives relate to current sectoral interests. Accordingly, MCS wanted to revitalize the justice reform agenda and to encourage managers in the implementing agencies to design new indicators that can help them articulate and focus on the connections between institutional achievements and sector goals. For this purpose, PCJ and the head of the JSRP Directorate planned for a series of twice-annual workshops to familiarize managers from several justice institutions on the methods involved in building and using active governance indicators.