Tuesday 17 February 2015

Following J4A’s support to the meetings of the network of Justice Sector Reform Teams (JSRTs) where lessons and experiences are shared to encourage observers to replicate JSRTs in their states a new reform team has been established. The number of JSRTs now operating in the country is on the rise and with the inauguration of the newly established Akwa Ibom State JSRT the total number of JSRTs in the country has risen to thirteen. The launch was announced by Justice Theresa Obot of the Akwa Ibom State Judiciary at the JSRT Network Conference, which was held in November 2014.

The launch of the Akwa Ibom State reform team was influenced by the state’s participation in the May 2014 Network meeting in Lagos where the state participated as an observer. The observation delegation was led by Justice Idongesit, the immediate past Chief Judge of the state who, after listening to the reform initiatives being implemented by the other states, made a commitment to work towards the setting up of a reform team in Akwa Ibom.

A Snapshot of JSRT Achievements

The recent meeting of the network of Justice Sector Reform Team (JSRT), which was held in Abuja provided the plat-form for showcasing the reform projects implemented by JSRTs from different states. Some of these projects include:

  • The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Clinic, which was established by the Katsina JSRT where young law-yers on the NYSC scheme provide legal services for the indigent Awaiting Trial Prisoners. This initiative has re-ceived national commendation and has led to the release of several vulnerable Nigerians that were formerly held in prison.
  • The adoption of police personnel as the Ministry of Justice Liaison Officer by several state JRTs, whereby a police officer is responsible for the submission and recovery of case files from the state Ministry of Justice. This has aid-ed effective and efficient movement of criminal case files and legal advice and has reduced the number of delayed cases caused by missing files.
  • The Federal team in conjunction with the Nigerian Prison Service (NPS) revised the NPS standing orders. This is the NPS operating document, which was last reviewed over 50 years ago. This document was outdated and no more in line with the modern realities of the Prison Service. As a result of the collaboration between the Federal Justice Sector Reform Coordinating Committee (FJSRCC) and the NPS the standing orders have now been re-vised and made operational.

It is worthy of note that JSRTs in Nigeria have initiated a total of 132 justice sector reform projects in several thematic areas including Administration of Criminal Justice, Accountability, Affordable and Accessible Justice, Public Awareness and Education.