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Legal Impact [2005] ADBLPRes 19 (1 June 2005)

Legal Impact

ADB Review [ June 2005 ]

A program to improve justice systems in Pakistan is showing that a focus on results boosts development effectiveness - and delivers faster justice to the people.

By Eric Van Zant, (
Consultant Writer

In Pakistan’s Access to Justice Program (AJP), a huge $350 million effort to upgrade the country’s judicial and policing systems, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has ratcheted up its focus on project results. The AJP is doing more than just collecting data to ensure its own goals are met. It is fostering the development of analytical tools that will help the country’s government and judiciary improve its courts and police forces long after ADB’s assistance has ended.

Under the program, designers set out to embed a monitoring and evaluation system into the day-to-day working of the country’s institutions, rather than merely tacking on an artificial appendage to the program that would wither after ADB’s involvement.

The resulting mechanisms have made evaluation a lynchpin of the AJP, determining not only the successful release of future funding but, through the careful analysis of data, also providing better planning. (The release of each new loan tranche in the program has required a satisfactory annual report.)

“It is not just about seeing that the program successfully meets its aims. It builds on what is there and takes it a step further,” says Peter Robertson, an ADB governance specialist, providing technical advice to the Government about monitoring and evaluation.

Like court systems in any country, he explains, Pakistan has had monitoring systems in place that collected data on cases and stored them. It was important to build on those systems and, thus, give the many agencies implementing AJP programs a strong sense of ownership, he says.

Judicial, Police Reform Framework

Launched in December 2001, the AJP aims to improve the quality of laws and institutions administering justice, their public accountability, and performance. It focuses on judicial and police reforms, coming up with ways, for example, to reduce a huge backlog of cases in the country’s district courts or to better monitor judicial performance. It is also helping implement police reforms under the new Police Order of 2002, which replaces a colonial police law that had been in place since 1861.

Pakistan’s Ministry of Law, Justice, and Human Rights and 29 federal and provincial agencies—including courts, ombudsman, and the police—are implementing the program.

The monitoring and evaluation system, basically speaking, provides a framework that links, through a matrix, a series of broad outcomes and themes with specific monitoring indicators. The indicators differ for each implementing agency.

In 2004, after a major evaluation of the AJP, ADB and the Government agreed to refocus the desired program outcomes under a set of five core themes: judicial performance, public safety and prosecution service, legal empowerment and education, administrative justice, and fiscal reforms. The indicators are derived from those themes and previous policy outcomes.

Organizers say full implementation of the monitoring and evaluation system is close, although no specific time frame can be put on it. “The monitoring framework is nearly complete and is close to implementation in all the provinces,” says Humair Karim, monitoring and evaluation coordinator for the program.

Mr. Robertson adds, however, that in reality, there has long been a system in place—based on those previously established monitoring systems—and the AJP is now changing and improving the types of data collected and refining the way these are analyzed. “We are working all the time to improve the analytical capacity,” he says.

Keeping It Simple

In installing the systems, organizers had to be careful to respect the judiciary’s jealously guarded independence, avoiding the appearance of trying to influence their case work, yet working with them to improve systems, Mr. Robertson says. They also had to ensure people did not misunderstand the nature of the judicial reform, all the

while building their capacity for administration and management. The key, he says, is to “keep it simple.”

Indeed, Mr. Robertson says, “there has been a willingness and understanding from the judiciary,” and that has translated into success. Among other things, there has been a striking reduction in the backlog of cases that slows justice not just in Pakistan, but also in many developing countries.

“Delay-reduction initiatives piloted initially in 10 district courts are now being replicated in the entire North-West Frontier Province, and this is helping clear the backlog in the courts,” writes Raza Ahmad, Project Officer (Governance) of ADB’s Pakistan Resident Mission.

The backlog of criminal cases, for example, declined from 130,000 in 2001 to less than 108,000 in 2003. In three AJP focal districts—Peshawar, Dera Ismail Khan, and Abbotabad—pendency rates (the backlog) in criminal cases fell by 58%, 63.7%, and 65.2%, respectively, because of delay-reduction measures installed under the AJP.

There is now a developing groundswell of support among judges for the changes being proposed by the AJP, Mr. Robertson says. “I just returned from the provinces, and I am very encouraged. I was talking with the senior judge in a subordinate court, and I was very encouraged by the openness and willingness to find ways to improve effectiveness and efficiency.”

Once fully installed in all provinces, the monitoring and evaluation system will not only give a complete picture of program progress for deciding and directing the upcoming (final) tranche of the loan, but it will also present a clearer view of previous tranches and ways to improve.

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