USAID Supports Community Justice Centers Development in Ukraine

A three-day Training on Community Justice Centers Development in Ukraine, which is organized by the USAID New Justice Program, is underway. The event is intended to strengthen organizational capacities of existing centers as well as to assist other interested non‑government organizations, courts, and local governments to analyze their capacities and create Community Justice Centers (CJCs) in their communities to meet local residents’ needs.

This training program is developed and being implemented in cooperation with the Center for Court Innovation, New York, a leading public-private partnership institution implementing CJC projects in the USA. The trainers team includes Red Hook CJC Judge Hon. Alex Calabrese, Red Hook CJC Deputy Director Viviana Gordon, Center for Court Innovation Judicial Education and Leadership Director Danielle Pugh-Markie, Center for Court Innovation Criminal Justice Programs Planner Joe Barrett, as well as alternative dispute resolution and USAID New Justice Program CJC Development Experts Olena Matviychuk and Iryna Voytyuk.

Earlier this year, the Center for Court Innovation and Red Hook Community Justice Center, with support from the USAID New Justice Program and Open World Leadership Center, hosted a Ukrainian delegation, which included representatives from CJCs in Odesa and Kharkiv oblasts. Now, American experts expose a broader audience to concepts of their work and discuss with the trainees how to adapt these concepts and approaches for application in Ukraine.

“Among trainees, I see participants of the study visit to the USA who learned the Red Hook experience. We are aware that existing Ukrainian CJCs have their own developments,” Oleksandr Piskun, Democracy Project Management Specialist, USAID Mission to Ukraine/Belarus, addressed himself to the audience. “It is important that experience sharing takes place so that you could continue these activities with a larger number of centers.”

USAID New Justice Program COP David Vaughn emphasized that access to justice is a key to the public trust in court. That is why the USAID New Justice Program initiated creation of community justice centers in Ukraine. Mr. Vaughn encouraged the trainees to take active part in the discussion and development of recommendation on further steps in developing CJCs.

During the event, representatives of three CJCs, which were set up with USAID support in Chuguiv, Kharkiv oblast, Odesa and Tatarbunary, Odesa oblast, and other stakeholders will familiarize themselves with best international practices and methods of studying legal problems faced by communities, developing and implementing strategic plans with involvement of the public and volunteers in their initiatives, and measuring CJC performance. The seminar agenda includes also such issues as developing partnership relations with non‑government organizations, businesses, government authorities and the public, raising the legal awareness of the public, and using alternative methods for dispute resolution. Besides, the participants will consider such aspects of CJC activities as procedural justice and specifics of working with vulnerable groups of the population.

A community justice center(CJCs) is a model whereby the judiciary, justice sector, and the public cooperate successfully in many countries. It was introduced in Ukraine recently. CJCs may provide people with a wide range of services including legal aid, alternative dispute resolution, public education etc. They support public initiatives for enhancing operations of courts and other public institutions in the justice sector, broading access to justices, addressing such community problems as street crime, domestic violence, human trafficking etc. CJCs help increase the public trust and confidence in the judiciary by creating broad opportunities for cooperation of courts, judges, and judicial staff with community representatives.

An international conference was held with USAID support in Ukraine in May 2018 at which specialists from existing CJCs in USA, Singapore, and Latin American countries made presentations. Having learned their experience, a number of Ukrainian non-government organizations expressed willingness to create such centers in their communities.Today, three CJCs operate in Ukraine (two in Odesa oblast and one in Kharkiv oblast).

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