oversight

Foreign Assistance: U.S. Rule of Law Assistance to Five Latin American Countries

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1999-08-04.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                   United States General Accounting Office

GAO                Report to Congressional Requesters




August 1999
                   FOREIGN
                   ASSISTANCE

                   U.S. Rule of Law
                   Assistance to Five
                   Latin American
                   Countries




GAO/NSIAD-99-195
United States General Accounting Office                                                                    National Security and
Washington, D.C. 20548                                                                              International Affairs Division



                                    B-282585                                                                                            Letter

                                    August 4, 1999

                                    Congressional Requesters

                                    Since the early 1980s, the United States has provided rule of law assistance
                                    to Latin American and Caribbean countries to improve their justice system
                                    institutions as a way to strengthen democracy.1 During the 1990s, U.S. rule
                                    of law assistance has focused on supporting efforts to reform criminal
                                    justice systems, including judicial institutions and the police and other law
                                    enforcement agencies, in many of these countries. At the 1998 Summit of
                                    the Americas, the leaders of most Western Hemisphere countries pledged
                                    their support for these and other reforms as a means to promote
                                    democracy, long-term development, and respect for human rights
                                    throughout the region.2

                                    At your request, we examined U.S. rule of law assistance programs in five
                                    Latin American countries—Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras,
                                    and Panama. Specifically, we determined (1) what U.S. rule of law
                                    assistance has helped each country achieve, (2) what factors have affected
                                    implementation of reforms in the respective criminal justice systems, and
                                    (3) how U.S. missions in each country plan and coordinate their rule of law
                                    assistance programs. In a separate report, as agreed with your offices, we
                                    identified U.S. rule of law assistance funds provided worldwide in fiscal
                                    years 1993-98.3 Also, we are reporting separately on coordination efforts
                                    among the cognizant departments and agencies in Washington, D.C.

                                    Since the early 1990s, the United States has provided more than
                                    $160 million worth of rule of law assistance to these countries—primarily
                                    through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the
                                    Department of Justice. To varying extents, the criminal justice systems in
                                    all five countries have historically been characterized by arbitrary arrests,


                                    1
                                     Until 1990, the United States provided rule of law (or administration of justice) assistance primarily to
                                    countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. In 1989, the Congress directed that part of the U.S.
                                    assistance to Central and Eastern Europe target the development of democratic institutions, including
                                    an independent judiciary.
                                    2
                                     Santiago Summit of the Americas Documents (Santiago, Chile: Apr. 18-19, 1998).
                                    3
                                     In fiscal years 1993-98, the United States provided at least $970 million in rule of law assistance to more
                                    than 180 countries. See Foreign Assistance: Rule of Law Funding Worldwide for Fiscal Years 1993-98
                                    (GAO/NSIAD-99-158, June 30, 1999).




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                      lengthy pretrial detentions, corruption, and a lack of transparency
                      (openness) in applying laws. Assistance from the United States and other
                      donors is intended to help these countries institute the criminal justice
                      system reforms necessary to address these problems. We refer to the U.S.
                      rule of law assistance programs in these countries throughout this report
                      and summarize their overall status, results, and challenges in appendixes I
                      through V.



Results in Brief      Based on our review of program documentation and evaluations,
                      interviews with U.S. and host country officials and nongovernmental
                      interest groups, and selected site visits, we determined that U.S. rule of law
                      assistance has helped these countries undertake legal and institutional
                      judicial reforms, improve the capabilities of the police and other law
                      enforcement institutions, and increase citizen access to the justice system.
                      For example,

                      • with USAID’s assistance, Colombia, El Salvador, and Guatemala revised
                        criminal codes and have trained judges, prosecutors, and other justice
                        officials in how to implement them;
                      • the U.S. Department of Justice helped police forces make the transition
                        from military to civilian control in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras,
                        and Panama (but not Colombia) and has provided assistance to law
                        enforcement institutions in all countries in administration,
                        investigations, forensics, and related matters; and
                      • USAID helped create local justice centers in Colombia and Guatemala
                        where citizens could arbitrate disputes and obtain legal advice; based on
                        the popularity of pilot projects in these two countries, the governments
                        are establishing centers in other locations.

                      The five countries we visited are in various stages of reforming their
                      criminal justice systems, but reforms in all of them have been affected by a
                      number of challenges and constraints. These include institutional
                      weaknesses, limited resources, lingering resistance to reforms, corruption,
                      and widespread crime. Host government officials and legal experts noted
                      that continued assistance from the international community—particularly
                      the United States—is needed to help encourage host governments to
                      devote the necessary resources to enact, implement, and maintain justice
                      reforms. They also emphasized that lasting reform of criminal justice
                      systems is a long-term effort that requires a sustained host government
                      commitment.




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             U.S. missions in the five countries we visited had country teams as well as
             rule of law teams, headed by the Ambassador, that planned and
             coordinated U.S. rule of law activities. The Ambassador or Deputy Chief of
             Mission normally chaired regularly scheduled meetings with these teams to
             help ensure that program duplication and other conflicts did not occur. We
             identified no instances of duplication of efforts or conflicting activities
             among agencies. U.S. agencies also coordinated their rule of law activities
             with host country counterparts and with other donors to help ensure that
             country needs were addressed. According to U.S., host country, and other
             international donor officials, this coordination has worked well.



Background   Over the years, U.S. rule of law assistance has been primarily extended in
             the form of training, technical advice, and related support. Two agencies
             have implemented the majority of U.S. rule of law assistance in the five
             countries we visited—USAID and the Department of Justice’s International
             Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP) group. USAID
             has focused on improving the capabilities of judges, prosecutors, and
             public defenders and their respective institutions as well as increasing the
             population’s access to the services provided by justice institutions. ICITAP
             has emphasized enhancing the overall capabilities of the police and other
             law enforcement institutions, with an emphasis on investigative capacity,
             and has supported efforts to reorganize the police in El Salvador,
             Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama.

             Several other U.S. agencies are involved in smaller rule of law activities in
             these countries. For example, in Colombia, the Department of Justice’s
             Overseas Prosecutorial Development Assistance and Training (OPDAT)
             program conducts activities for strengthening the Office of the Prosecutor
             General and improving the capabilities of prosecutors and other justice
             officials. Also, the U.S. Information Agency has various educational
             programs—such as exchanges between host country judicial and law
             enforcement personnel and their U.S. counterparts—to increase the
             awareness and knowledge of rule of law issues. The Department of State
             has overall responsibility for coordinating U.S. rule of law programs. It also
             funds training programs implemented by U.S. law enforcement agencies
             and carries out some training programs, mainly dealing with antiterrorism
             issues.




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U.S. Assistance Has          In the 1990s, U.S. rule of law assistance has helped Colombia, El Salvador,
                             Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama undertake fundamental reforms as they
Helped Countries             attempt to establish more effective criminal justice systems. To varying
Improve Their Justice        degrees, the United States has helped these five countries undertake legal
                             and institutional judicial reforms, improve the capabilities of the police and
Systems                      other law enforcement institutions, and increase citizen access to the
                             justice system.


U.S. Assistance Has Helped   U.S. rule of law assistance has helped the five countries in their attempts to
Countries Make Legal and     substantially change their criminal justice systems. The countries are at
                             different stages in reforming their criminal justice systems and
Institutional Reforms        implementing these reforms.

                             • In 1991, with USAID technical assistance and support, Colombia revised
                               its constitution and a criminal code and began restructuring its judicial
                               institutions accordingly. USAID, ICITAP, and OPDAT assistance is
                               focusing on strengthening the capabilities of the courts, the Prosecutor
                               General’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office, and the investigative units
                               of various law enforcement organizations. Also, USAID is supporting a
                               pilot effort for demonstrating new trial procedures in selected locations.
                             • In El Salvador and Guatemala, USAID supported the development of
                               criminal codes that were enacted in 1998 and 1994, respectively. When
                               fully implemented, the codes will make their criminal justice systems
                               more open and transparent. USAID and ICITAP are now providing
                               training and technical assistance to judges, prosecutors, investigators,
                               and public defenders and their respective institutions to implement the
                               necessary changes.
                             • Similarly, in Honduras, USAID supported the development of a new
                               criminal code that would help make its justice system more transparent.
                               Legislative action on the code was delayed in 1998 in the aftermath of
                               Hurricane Mitch but, according to U.S. officials, passage is expected in
                               1999. USAID has also focused on strengthening the Public Ministry by
                               preparing prosecutors and other court personnel for the changes
                               expected with the passage of the code. Honduran officials noted USAID
                               also helped establish a court Inspector General’s Office, which has
                               worked to stem judicial corruption by conducting public investigations
                               of judges.




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                              • In Panama, USAID and ICITAP helped restructure Panama’s criminal
                                justice system in the early 1990s. Before the USAID rule of law program
                                was terminated in 1997,4 it focused on training judicial personnel,
                                developing a merit-based career track for judges and prosecutors,
                                improving case management, supporting a judicial school and the Public
                                Defender’s office, and establishing legal libraries. ICITAP is currently
                                assisting efforts to strengthen the capabilities of investigative units.


U.S. Assistance Has           Primarily through the efforts of ICITAP, the United States has enhanced the
Enhanced Police               capabilities of police organizations in all countries and assisted with the
                              transition to civilian authority in four of the five countries. In all five
Capabilities and Helped the   countries, reports of human rights abuses by police forces have declined in
Transition to Civilian        recent years. In Colombia, however, the overall human rights situation
Authority                     continues to deteriorate due to ongoing armed conflict among government
                              forces, paramilitaries, insurgents, and narcotraffickers.

                              • In Colombia, ICITAP has helped strengthen the investigative capabilities
                                of the police and other law enforcement organizations through training,
                                technical assistance, and other support for investigative units, forensics
                                laboratories, and other units.
                              • In El Salvador, the United States was the primary donor that supported
                                scaling back the military and transitioning to a professional civilian
                                police force, as required by the 1992 peace agreement. ICITAP helped
                                establish a new police academy, trained academy officials in
                                administration and management, provided specialized training in
                                36 areas, and developed an instruction manual on the new criminal
                                procedures. ICITAP has also sought to enhance the police investigative
                                capacity through support for a new forensics laboratory and special
                                units for criminal and background investigations.
                              • In Guatemala, ICITAP assisted with the transition to a civilian police
                                force in accordance with the 1996 peace agreement. While Spain is the
                                primary donor for police assistance in Guatemala, ICITAP is
                                complementing the Spanish effort by helping develop the police’s
                                Criminal Investigative Service, Criminal Investigative School, and
                                forensics laboratory.
                              • In Honduras, ICITAP assisted with the transition of the police to civilian
                                rule through technical assistance and helped revise academy curricula
                                to include courses on professional responsibility. ICITAP also supported


                              4
                              USAID terminated its programs as part of an overall effort to reduce its overseas presence.




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                               improvements in the police’s investigative capacity by providing training
                               and helping establish a crime laboratory.
                             • In Panama, ICITAP was instrumental in the development of a
                               civilian-run police force, following the abolishment of the Panamanian
                               Defense Force controlled by former dictator Manuel Noriega in late
                               1989. More recently, ICITAP has shifted its focus from institution
                               building to more specialized training. It is developing activities that are
                               designed to sustain police reform, such as establishing a career ladder
                               for officers, providing training for new instructors, and supporting a
                               strategic planning unit and an integrated management information
                               system.


U.S. Assistance Has Helped   In the five countries we visited, U.S. assistance has helped improve access
Improve Citizen Access to    to the justice system for the poor and marginalized populations. U.S.
                             officials are also helping create and sustain grassroots support for justice
the Justice System
                             system reforms.

                             • In Colombia, USAID has supported eight “Houses of Justice” that
                               provide judicial services to low-income individuals. At these centers,
                               citizens can seek alternative dispute resolution or have direct access to
                               judges, prosecutors, public defenders, and the police. Colombia, with
                               the support of USAID, plans to expand the program.
                             • In El Salvador, USAID provided support for hiring additional judges,
                               prosecutors, and public defenders throughout the country. In 1999,
                               USAID is focusing on both institution building and improving access for
                               rural populations. ICITAP developed a pilot “911” emergency call system
                               in Santa Ana that lowered the crime rate in the area and increased
                               community confidence in the police. Plans are underway to replicate the
                               program nationwide. ICITAP is also developing a program for
                               community policing.
                             • In Guatemala, USAID helped create two pilot justice centers in rural
                               areas to improve access to judicial services and test innovations in case
                               administration and referrals for alternative dispute resolution. A team
                               approach to the delivery of justice services brings together the police
                               officer, investigator, prosecutor, and judge. As a result of the centers’
                               popularity, the Guatemalan government plans to expand the centers to
                               other locations with the support of USAID and other international
                               donors.
                             • In Honduras, USAID has funded activities to build support for judicial
                               reform among the general public and civil society groups. USAID




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                           provided small grants to nongovernmental organizations that are active
                           in police reform and are supporting passage of a new criminal code.
                         • In Panama, USAID funded public training through a nongovernmental
                           organization on how to obtain access to the criminal justice system. A
                           USAID activity under consideration includes funding civil society
                           groups to generate demand for legal reforms.

                         Host government officials, representatives of nongovernmental
                         organizations, and other international donor officials generally noted that
                         U.S. assistance has been key in promoting legal and institutional reform,
                         improving the capabilities of the criminal justice system, and increasing the
                         access of the population to justice. In addition to program aid, they said the
                         U.S. presence has helped identify targets of opportunity and bring
                         international attention to rule of law issues.



Further Reform Faces     Governments have partially implemented justice system reform in each of
                         the countries we visited. While the previously described reform efforts are
Various Constraints      steps toward improving criminal justice systems, these governments face
and Requires Sustained   numerous challenges and constraints in making further reforms, such as
                         securing the resources needed to fully implement the reforms in the face of
Commitment               limited government budgets, varying commitment to the reforms, and high
                         levels of crime.

                         • In Colombia, the ongoing armed conflicts and high levels of crime strain
                           the resources of the government. The government has only partially
                           implemented its reform of the criminal justice system and is unable to
                           implement the reform in the territory that is under the control of
                           insurgency groups, paramilitaries, and narcotraffickers.
                         • El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras are among the poorest countries
                           in the Western Hemisphere and lack the human and financial resources
                           necessary to sustain the pace of their reform efforts without external
                           assistance. According to USAID and host country officials, reform
                           efforts in these three countries have to take into account large segments
                           of the rural population, which are isolated and lack access to basic
                           government services. In Guatemala, this task is further complicated by
                           the presence of a large rural indigenous population with its own
                           languages and cultural traditions.




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As we reported in 1993,5 implementing justice sector reforms over the long
term depends largely on sustained commitment from the host country
governments, their civil societies, and the international donor community.
In the countries we visited, the pace of reform was largely affected by the
host government’s commitment to making the necessary changes.

• In 1991, Colombia revised its constitution to allow the restructuring
  necessary for an independent justice system. However, implementation
  of these reforms has taken time due to the need to create and strengthen
  various justice sector institutions and the lack of commitment to do so.
• Although USAID began providing rule of law support to El Salvador and
  Guatemala in the mid-1980s, the enactment of justice system reforms
  did not occur until the 1990s. Their peace accords, signed in 1992 and
  1996, respectively, represented turning points in the countries’
  commitment to enacting and implementing reforms. However, changing
  the criminal justice systems has taken time. In El Salvador, criminal
  code revisions needed to implement new judicial proceedings did not
  become effective until April 1998—6 years after the peace accord was
  signed. Although Guatemala revised its criminal codes in 1994, the
  implementation of changes was not carried out until the peace accord
  was signed and hostilities permanently ceased 2 years later.
• After USAID stopped disbursing funds in 1997, the Panamanian
  government curtailed efforts to train justice sector personnel and
  automate record management systems.

Additionally, according to State, USAID, ICITAP, and OPDAT officials, these
countries have legacies that work against the implementation of justice
system reforms. Violence, widespread crime, and an overall disregard for
the law are common in Colombia, El Salvador, and Guatemala due in part
to their long armed conflicts. The lack of transparency and resources in
their justice systems has fostered corruption in all five countries to some
extent. In each of the countries we visited, host country government and
civil society representatives noted that the presence of the international
community—particularly the United States—was needed, not only for the
resources it provides, but also to help encourage government officials to
devote the necessary resources to enact, implement, and sustain needed
reforms. They also emphasized that lasting reform of criminal justice



5
 Foreign Assistance: Promoting Judicial Reform to Strengthen Democracies (GAO/NSIAD-93-149,
Sept. 1, 1993).




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                         systems is a long-term effort that requires a sustained host government
                         commitment.



U.S. Missions Plan and   In each of the five countries we visited, the ambassadors and senior U.S.
                         agency officials had established procedures for planning and coordinating
Coordinate Rule of       U.S. rule of law programs and activities. As we reported in 1993,6 strong,
Law Assistance           top-level U.S. support at the country level was needed to implement rule of
                         law programs successfully. This support appeared to be present in the five
                         countries we visited. We also noted that the heads of the agencies providing
                         rule of law assistance had good working relationships with one another
                         and, based on our review of relevant documentation, we found no
                         instances of duplication of activities and efforts among the U.S. agencies.

                         The missions coordinated assistance with counterparts in each of the five
                         host countries and with other international donors. U.S., host country, and
                         other international donor officials told us that this coordination had been
                         successful.


Planning Among U.S.      The primary tool for linking the overall rule of law goals and objectives
Agencies                 among the agencies operating in-country is the Mission Performance Plan
                         (MPP). MPPs lay out the goals and objectives that the mission will pursue
                         over the next 2 years within the framework of the State Department’s
                         International Affairs Strategic Plan. Because several departments and
                         agencies are represented in U.S. missions abroad, MPPs are developed
                         through interagency reviews and in consultation with each agency’s
                         Washington, D.C., headquarters. Each U.S. agency has its own planning
                         processes and documents, which essentially are an extension of the MPP
                         and fill in many of the details of the overall program. For example, USAID,
                         ICITAP, and OPDAT have plans describing their rule of law programs’ goals,
                         objectives, funding, activities, performance indicators, and benchmarks.

                         According to U.S. officials, these planning processes and related
                         documents enable the missions, in conjunction with Washington, to
                         establish the goals and objectives of rule of law programs and activities;
                         ascertain the progress made toward achieving their goals and objectives;
                         and identify both problems and solutions concerning these programs and


                         6
                         Foreign Assistance: Promoting Judicial Reform to Strengthen Democracies.




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activities. Also, these processes play a key role in the U.S. agencies’ efforts
to coordinate the rule of law-related training, technical assistance, and
equipment support provided by the agencies and their contractors to
recipient institutions.

For example, U.S. officials in El Salvador stated that the rigorous
examination of the mission’s programs and activities conducted during the
1998 MPP process enabled it to clearly identify the objectives to pursue.
They also noted that these objectives were reflected in each agency’s
objectives and activities.

• One MPP objective in El Salvador stated that the United States would
  assist the implementation of justice system reform by supporting efforts
  to improve institutional capacity. The MPP’s performance indicator to
  measure progress toward achieving this objective is the reduction in
  case-processing time for criminal cases. One of USAID’s objectives
  emphasized supporting efforts to establish more inclusive and effective
  democratic processes. One indicator for measuring progress toward
  achieving this objective is the status of legal/judicial reforms. Based on
  this indicator, USAID noted that El Salvador has made much progress in
  passing justice system reforms because most enabling legislation for the
  legal and structural reforms to the justice system has been enacted. It
  also stated that in those areas where implementation of the reforms has
  begun, case filings increased and case processing improved—the latter
  closely matching the MPP’s performance indicator.
• Another MPP objective in El Salvador emphasized supporting efforts to
  improve the civilian National Police Criminal Investigative Division. One
  of ICITAP’s objectives was to assist with developing the Division’s
  ability to conduct professional and effective criminal investigations.
  Some of the benchmarks used to measure progress toward achieving
  this objective included publishing an investigative procedures manual,
  identifying weak points in investigation practices, establishing working
  groups of prosecutors and investigators to agree on coordination
  mechanisms, and creating a continuing education program for Division
  staff. Based on these benchmarks, ICITAP noted that El Salvador had
  made progress in training investigators on the requirements of the
  reformed criminal justice system.

U.S. officials in Colombia also stated that the MPP and U.S. agency
planning processes complemented each other and helped agencies in
planning and coordinating rule of law assistance. Specifically, one MPP
objective in Colombia emphasized that the United States would continue to



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                             support reform efforts to make the criminal justice system less
                             cumbersome by providing assistance, for example, to train judges,
                             prosecutors, and investigators. In turn, USAID, ICITAP, and OPDAT
                             planning documents contained objectives and indicators aimed at
                             improving the effectiveness of the justice system. One USAID performance
                             indicator emphasized the adoption of a single training curriculum for
                             investigators by the three main law enforcement academies. ICITAP’s
                             related benchmarks also emphasized that these academies adopt this
                             common investigative training curriculum and that all investigators receive
                             training on the requirements of the reformed system.


In-country Coordination      U.S. missions had country teams and rule of law and law enforcement
Among U.S. Agencies          teams that met regularly to discuss coordination issues concerning
                             agencies’ programs and activities. Country teams included representatives
                             from all the U.S. agencies with a country presence and were chaired by the
                             Ambassador. These teams met weekly to discuss issues regarding all of the
                             agencies’ programs and activities, including rule of law assistance.

                             Rule of law and law enforcement teams were comprised of representatives
                             from all the U.S. agencies supporting rule of law efforts in-country and
                             were normally chaired by the Ambassador or Deputy Chief of Mission.
                             These teams met at least once a month. In Colombia, the heads of USAID,
                             ICITAP, and OPDAT met every week to address management and
                             coordination issues.

                             U.S. officials in the five countries we visited told us that the coordination of
                             rule of law assistance worked well. During our visit we observed that the
                             heads of the agencies implementing most of the rule of law assistance had
                             good working relationships. In addition, in reviewing pertinent agency
                             documents, we identified no instances of duplication of rule of law
                             activities and efforts or other conflicts among the agencies.


Coordination With the Host   In all the countries we visited, the United States coordinated its rule of law
Country and Other Donors     assistance with host country counterparts. U.S. and host country officials
                             agreed these efforts had addressed rule of law assistance-related issues and
                             had averted any major problems. Coordination with other international
                             donors was less formal, and most other donors’ programs were relatively
                             new. Nevertheless, U.S. and other donor representatives—for example, the
                             Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank, and Spain—said they




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              were aware of each other’s programs and activities and had planned their
              efforts accordingly.

              • In Colombia, under a grant agreement signed by the United States and
                the Colombian government, an executive committee comprised of the
                U.S. Ambassador, the head of USAID, and high-level Colombian
                counterparts from the justice sector coordinate the U.S. rule of law
                assistance. This group meets at least once a year; it last met in
                December 1998. Under a complementary grant agreement signed by the
                United States and the Colombian Prosecutor General’s Office, this office
                coordinated all the rule of law assistance that it received from
                international donors.
              • In El Salvador and Guatemala, the missions coordinated their rule of law
                assistance with justice sector coordinating commissions comprised of
                the heads of most of the host country’s criminal justice system
                institutions. These commissions also were charged with developing
                overall strategic plans for the justice system and coordinating
                international assistance to the system’s institutions.
              • In Honduras, coordination was done through counterparts at each of the
                justice sector entities. Although USAID has encouraged the government
                to create a donor coordination position within the judicial branch,
                Honduras has not acted on this recommendation.



Conclusions   U.S. rule of law assistance has helped these countries undertake criminal
              justice system reforms. These reforms involve a long-term effort that
              requires sustained host government commitment. The countries we visited
              face numerous challenges and constraints in making further criminal
              justice system reforms; primarily, resources are limited and the
              governments’ commitment to reform varies. Additionally, violence,
              widespread crime, and an overall disregard for the law are common in
              Colombia, El Salvador, and Guatemala. Host country government officials
              and civil society representatives noted that the presence of the
              international community—particularly the United States—was needed to
              help encourage government officials to devote the necessary resources to
              enact, implement, and sustain needed reforms.



Scope and     We reviewed U.S. rule of law assistance programs in five countries—
              Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama. These
Methodology   countries were selected based on congressional interest and the size,



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breadth, and history of their programs. We primarily focused on U.S.
assistance efforts during the 1990s. We traveled to El Salvador and
Guatemala in July 1998 and to Colombia, Honduras, and Panama in
September and October 1998. We updated the status of the programs in
May and June 1999 through contacts with cognizant officials in the U.S.
missions.

To determine what U.S. rule of law assistance has achieved and any factors
impeding implementation of criminal justice reforms, we interviewed
cognizant officials, met with nongovernmental interest groups, and
analyzed program documentation in Washington, D.C., and the respective
countries. In each country, we also visited project sites and met with host
country officials. Specifically, we did the following:

• In Washington, D.C., we interviewed headquarters’ officials at the
  departments and agencies with rule of law programs in these countries,
  including the Departments of State and Justice, USAID, and the U.S.
  Information Agency (USIA). We also met with nongovernmental
  organizations and individuals with expertise in Latin American criminal
  justice system reforms. For each country, we reviewed Mission
  Performance Plans; USAID country planning documents; ICITAP
  country work plans; and other reporting documents, funding
  agreements, contracts, and project evaluations. From our analysis, we
  determined how U.S. rule of law program objectives, desired outcomes,
  and performance indicators were linked within each agency and among
  all U.S. programs in country and how agencies used this information to
  manage their rule of law programs. We also reviewed State human rights
  reports for each country and our prior reports on judicial reform in Latin
  America.7
• In each country, we met with the Ambassador,8 the Deputy Chief of
  Mission, senior U.S. officials representing agencies with rule of law
  programs in each country, and numerous program staff. We interviewed
  host country officials at the supreme courts and judicial councils;


7
 See Foreign Assistance: Promoting Judicial Reform to Strengthen Democracies; Foreign Assistance:
Meeting the Training Needs of Police in New Democracies (GAO/NSIAD-93-109, Jan. 21, 1993); Foreign
Assistance: Promising Approach to Judicial Reform in Colombia (GAO/NSIAD-92-269, Sept. 24, 1992);
Aid to El Salvador: Slow Progress in Developing a National Civilian Police (GAO/NSIAD-92-338,
Sept. 22, 1992); Aid to Panama: Improving the Criminal Justice System (GAO/NSIAD-92-147, May 12,
1992); Foreign Aid: Police Training and Assistance (GAO/NSIAD-92-118, Mar. 5, 1992); and Foreign Aid:
Efforts to Improve the Judicial System in El Salvador (GAO/NSIAD-90-81, May 29, 1990).
8
The U.S. Ambassador to Colombia was traveling during our visit.




Page 13                                                   GAO/NSIAD-99-195 Foreign Assistance
                  B-282585




                     prosecutor and public defender offices; justice, foreign affairs, and
                     public security ministries; law enforcement organizations; and justice
                     system coordinating bodies. We visited training schools for judges and
                     prosecutors, law schools, police academies, forensics laboratories,
                     antinarcotics units, and several pilot projects. We met with
                     representatives of other international donors with rule of law programs,
                     such as the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank, the
                     United Nations Development Programme, and Spain. Finally, we met
                     with numerous representatives from nongovernmental organizations
                     and other groups representing a broad spectrum of civil society. For
                     example, in El Salvador we discussed the challenges facing the police
                     and judicial institutions with representatives from the Washington
                     Office on Latin America. In Guatemala, we discussed progress toward
                     implementing the peace accords with officials from the United Nations
                     Verification Mission, and we held discussions with panels of civil society
                     representatives.

                  To determine how the United States plans and coordinates its rule of law
                  assistance in each country, we reviewed the most recent rule of law
                  program and project plans and discussed with U.S. officials their
                  management processes and the operations of the missions’ working
                  groups. We also interviewed host country officials and other international
                  donors to determine how they coordinated their rule of law programs and
                  how they viewed U.S. and other donors’ coordination efforts.

                  We performed our work from June 1998 to June 1999 in accordance with
                  generally accepted government auditing standards.



Agency Comments   We requested comments on a draft of this report from the Departments of
                  State and Justice, USAID, and USIA. USAID provided written comments
                  (see app. VI). State, Justice, and USIA provided oral comments. State also
                  provided technical comments, which we incorporated as appropriate.
                  Overall, the comments characterized the report as fair, balanced, and
                  informative.


                  Unless you publicly announce its contents earlier, we plan no further
                  distribution of this report until 30 days after its issue date. At that time, we
                  will send copies of this report to the Honorable Madeleine K. Albright,
                  Secretary of State; the Honorable Janet Reno, Attorney General; the
                  Honorable Harriet C. Babbitt, Acting Administrator of USAID; the



                  Page 14                                       GAO/NSIAD-99-195 Foreign Assistance
B-282585




Honorable Penn Kemble, Acting Director, USIA; and interested
congressional committees. We will make copies available to others upon
request.

Please contact me at (202) 512-4128 if you or your staff have any questions
about this report. Other GAO contacts and staff acknowledgments are
listed in appendix VII.




Benjamin F. Nelson
Director, International Relations and
 Trade Issues




Page 15                                    GAO/NSIAD-99-195 Foreign Assistance
B-282585




List of Congressional Requesters

The Honorable Mike DeWine
The Honorable Jesse A. Helms
The Honorable Joseph R. Biden
The Honorable John Breaux
The Honorable Paul Coverdell
The Honorable Bob Graham
The Honorable Charles E. Grassley
The Honorable Orrin G. Hatch
The Honorable Patrick J. Leahy
United States Senate

The Honorable Benjamin A. Gilman
The Honorable Porter J. Goss
The Honorable Bill McCollum
The Honorable E. Clay Shaw
House of Representatives




Page 16                             GAO/NSIAD-99-195 Foreign Assistance
Page 17   GAO/NSIAD-99-195 Foreign Assistance
Contents



Letter                                                              1


Appendix I                                                         20
U.S. Rule of Law
Assistance to Colombia

Appendix II                                                        24
U.S. Rule of Law
Assistance to El
Salvador

Appendix III                                                       28
U.S. Rule of Law
Assistance to
Guatemala

Appendix IV                                                        31
U.S. Rule of Law
Assistance to
Honduras

Appendix V                                                         35
U.S. Rule of Law
Assistance to Panama

Appendix VI                                                        39
Comments From
USAID



                         Page 18   GAO/NSIAD-99-195 Foreign Assistance
                  Contents




Appendix VII                                                                               41
GAO Contacts
and Staff
Acknowledgments




                  Abbreviations

                  ICITAP     International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance
                             Program
                  JSRP       Justice Sector Reform Program
                  MPP        Mission Performance Plan
                  OPDAT      Overseas Prosecutorial Development Assistance and Training
                  USAID      U.S. Agency for International Development
                  USIA       U.S. Information Agency



                  Page 19                                  GAO/NSIAD-99-195 Foreign Assistance
Appendix I

U.S. Rule of Law Assistance to Colombia                                                                  Appenx
                                                                                                              Idi




                         Although Colombia is one of the oldest democracies in Latin America,
                         violence has plagued that country for the last several decades. Colombia
                         has one of the highest levels of crime and is the largest exporter of illegal
                         drugs in the region. Colombia is fighting not only insurgents and
                         paramilitaries but also common criminals and drug producers and
                         traffickers. To combat these groups, Colombia has used its military and
                         criminal justice system—including judicial institutions and the police and
                         other law enforcement groups. However, according to U.S. officials, the
                         criminal justice system is weak and largely ineffective in this fight.

                         In 1991, after amending its constitution and revising a criminal code,
                         Colombia began a major effort to reform its criminal justice institutions.
                         Colombia’s reform aimed to improve the criminal justice system by, among
                         other things, establishing, restructuring, and strengthening justice
                         institutions as well as by enhancing criminal investigations, prosecutions,
                         and trials. Colombia has not fully implemented many of these changes, and
                         serious problems continue to affect its criminal justice system. According
                         to the State Department, these problems include arbitrary arrests; lengthy
                         pretrial detentions; large case backlogs; intimidation, suborning, and
                         corruption of justice officials; and avoidance of punishment by large
                         numbers of wrongdoers. In 1998, for example, less than 3 percent of all
                         reported crimes were successfully prosecuted. U.S. rule of law assistance
                         is designed to help Colombia implement its criminal justice system reform
                         and, eventually, address these problems.



U.S. Rule of Law         To help Colombia implement its 1991 reforms, the U.S. Agency for
                         International Development (USAID) and the Department of Justice’s
Assistance and Related   International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP)
Results                  and Overseas Prosecutorial Development Assistance and Training
                         (OPDAT) groups have implemented the Justice Sector Reform Program
                         (JSRP). JSRP has focused on training justice sector officials, improving
                         Colombian police investigative capabilities, and increasing citizen access
                         to justice. Under JSRP, USAID has provided $28.5 million, ICITAP over
                         $7 million, and OPDAT over $3.5 million since 1991.


USAID                    Under JSRP, USAID has supported over 50 projects to enhance the
                         capabilities of justice system institutions, including Colombia’s court
                         system, Ministry of Justice, Prosecutor General’s Office, Public Defender’s
                         Office, and Superior Judicial Council. USAID helped implement
                         information systems within the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Public



                         Page 20                                      GAO/NSIAD-99-195 Foreign Assistance
         Appendix I
         U.S. Rule of Law Assistance to Colombia




         Defender’s Office; strengthened the Superior Judicial Council’s Judicial
         School; and established training programs for judges, prosecutors, and
         public defenders. During our visits to the Prosecutor General’s Office and
         the Public Defender’s Office, we toured their information management
         facilities supported by USAID projects. Justice officials told us that these
         projects had been critical to secure the hardware and develop the
         specialized software needed to process most of the information required by
         prosecutors and public defenders.

         USAID also supported the creation of 13 alternative dispute resolution
         centers and 8 Houses of Justice as a means for improving citizen access to
         justice. The Houses of Justice are intended to provide a variety of
         justice-related services to people in lower-income areas. For example, in
         the Houses, citizens have access to alternative dispute resolution
         mechanisms—such as conciliation and mediation—and representatives
         from judicial and law enforcement organizations. During our visit to the
         House of Justice in Ciudad Bolivar, we toured several units that provided
         justice services to low-income persons, and justice officials praised the
         contribution made by the USAID assistance to the establishment and
         operation of this House of Justice. In addition, USAID-funded Colombian
         nongovernmental organizations have conducted public awareness and
         education programs for the population to gain better access to justice.

         USAID is currently focusing its rule of law assistance in three areas. First,
         USAID and the Superior Judicial Council are working to strengthen judicial
         training, improve the conduct of trials, and establish the pertinent trial
         facilities. Second, USAID and the Public Defender's Office are training
         public defenders, developing a national training plan for public defenders,
         and further strengthening information management capabilities. Third,
         USAID is helping to establish additional Houses of Justice and supporting
         nongovernmental organizations’ public awareness and education programs
         focusing on justice issues.


ICITAP   ICITAP has focused on strengthening the investigative capabilities of law
         enforcement institutions. Under JSRP, ICITAP has helped train
         investigators from the National Police’s investigative unit, the
         Administrative Department of Security’s investigative unit, and the
         Prosecutor General’s Technical Corps of Investigations. Each agency has
         focused on training a core group that, in turn, instructs other investigators.
         In 1996 and 1997, ICITAP supported training in investigative techniques for
         3,500 investigators—about half of the investigators in these three



         Page 21                                      GAO/NSIAD-99-195 Foreign Assistance
                       Appendix I
                       U.S. Rule of Law Assistance to Colombia




                       Colombian investigative organizations. ICITAP helped develop police
                       manuals, investigative techniques, and crime scene processing capabilities.
                       Currently, ICITAP is assisting further efforts to train investigators and
                       supporting the development of a common curriculum for all investigators.
                       ICITAP is also promoting the idea of having a unified school for training all
                       investigators, rather than having three separate schools. During our visit to
                       the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Prosecutor General and another
                       high-ranking official told us that they would support the effort to create a
                       unified school for investigators. ICITAP, in conjunction with OPDAT, has
                       worked on establishing local and national special units of prosecutors and
                       investigators to demonstrate how these justice officials would work
                       together using reformed investigations and prosecution proceedings.



OPDAT                  OPDAT has focused on strengthening the capabilities of the Prosecutor
                       General’s Office. Under JSRP, OPDAT has helped develop and implement a
                       national training plan for prosecutors and judges. The plan concentrates on
                       training these justice officials on the changes introduced by the 1991 justice
                       system reform. OPDAT also funded training for 2,500 prosecutors and 800
                       judges.

                       Moreover, OPDAT, in conjunction with ICITAP, has helped establish several
                       local and national special units in which prosecutors and investigators
                       work together to solve specific types of crimes. For example, OPDAT is
                       helping establish and institutionalize four national special units
                       concentrating on money laundering and asset forfeitures, narcotrafficking,
                       anticorruption, and human rights abuses. Prosecutors and investigators
                       who worked in the local special units have played a key role in supporting
                       the creation of the national special units, according to U.S. officials. Based
                       on the lessons learned in the local special units, OPDAT is supporting the
                       development of a manual for prosecutors. According to U.S. officials, this
                       document, which is scheduled for release in 1999, will be an important tool
                       for implementing throughout the country the concept of prosecutors
                       directing investigations and prosecutions using reformed proceedings.



Remaining Challenges   Colombia has not fully implemented its 1991 criminal justice system
                       reforms. Despite the training, technical assistance, and other support
                       provided to judges, prosecutors, investigators, public defenders, and their
                       institutions, few justice officials are following the new procedures for
                       conducting investigations and prosecutions. In addition, Colombia has not
                       put in place the new trial procedures and facilities that are expected to



                       Page 22                                      GAO/NSIAD-99-195 Foreign Assistance
Appendix I
U.S. Rule of Law Assistance to Colombia




expedite the trial of criminal cases. Consequently, Colombia’s criminal
justice system is still overburdened by ineffective investigations,
prosecutions, and trials, resulting in large case backlogs and in large
numbers of wrongdoers going unpunished. For example, according to
Colombian sources, the justice system had over 3.5 million cases pending
at the end of 1997. The Prosecutor General’s Office had about 700,000 and
the courts about 2.9 million cases pending. Also, according to these same
sources, at least 8,123 murders had occurred as of April 1998, and
74 percent of these remained unsolved.

Further advances will require securing support for recent reform
initiatives, obtaining the resources needed to carry out the reform,
completing the training of justice officials, and implementing the necessary
changes throughout the country. The Superior Judicial Council has to issue
regulations for conducting reformed trials and has to ensure that the
related infrastructure, processes, procedures, and equipment are in place
to test, through pilot programs, the new trial proceedings. It also must see
that they are carried out across the nation. USAID estimates that the
nationwide implementation of these new trial proceedings may take from
3 to 5 years. Although Council members state that their institution has legal
authority to proceed with the implementation of new trial procedures and
plans to issue the pertinent regulations during 1999, they acknowledged
that the authority and regulations could be questioned in the courts.

Colombia’s continuing armed conflict; narcotrafficking; high crime levels;
and intimidation, suborning, and corruption of justice officials complicate
the reform efforts of the Superior Judicial Council, the Prosecutor
General’s Office, and other criminal justice system institutions. According
to the State Department, judges have long been subject to threats and
intimidation, particularly when dealing with cases involving the military,
paramilitary, narcotics, and guerrilla organizations, and these and other
justice officials continue to be subjected to threats, suborning, corruption,
and acts of violence. According to U.S. officials, all of the problems put
pressure on the government’s budget, overwhelm the resources and
capabilities of judicial and law enforcement institutions, and undermine
public confidence in a criminal justice system that still does not work well
and does not provide citizens with widespread access to justice.




Page 23                                      GAO/NSIAD-99-195 Foreign Assistance
Appendix II

U.S. Rule of Law Assistance to El Salvador                                                              Appe
                                                                                                           nIx
                                                                                                             Idi




                         During the 1980s, El Salvador was immersed in a violent civil conflict that
                         claimed more than 75,000 lives. U.S. assistance for El Salvador’s criminal
                         justice institutions began in 1984 in response to congressional concerns
                         over human rights abuses—particularly the politically motivated murders
                         of U.S. citizens—and the lack of response by the Salvadoran authorities.
                         Very few of these cases were investigated and prosecuted.

                         In 1991, interim peace negotiations led to a constitutional reform that
                         sought to professionalize the judicial branch. Among the key changes were
                         the allocation of 6 percent of the national budget for the Judicial Branch
                         and other provisions to make the Supreme Court more independent. These
                         negotiations also strengthened the mandate and independence of the
                         National Council on the Judiciary, which was created in 1989 and currently
                         manages the court system and recommends candidates for judicial
                         appointments. In January 1992, representatives from the Salvadoran
                         government and the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front signed a
                         peace agreement ending the 12-year armed conflict. The accord aimed to
                         secure peace and to democratize Salvadoran society through greater
                         political pluralism and major legal and institutional reforms. For instance,
                         it mandated replacing national military police with a police force under
                         civilian control. After the peace agreement was signed, international
                         donors, including the United States, committed significant resources for
                         reforming El Salvador’s government, including its judicial and law
                         enforcement organizations.



U.S. Rule of Law         Since 1992, the United States has provided about $54 million in rule of law
                         assistance to El Salvador. USAID provided about $18 million in assistance
Assistance and Related   and ICITAP about $36 million.
Results

USAID                    USAID’s rule of law program in El Salvador is currently supporting efforts
                         to implement the new criminal codes, which became effective in 1998, and
                         strengthen criminal justice system planning and coordination. USAID’s
                         program provides training, technical assistance, and other support to
                         improve the skills of judges, prosecutors, and public defenders and their
                         institutions. In addition, USAID seeks to increase citizen access to and
                         confidence in the justice system by supporting alternative dispute
                         resolution initiatives and increasing citizens’ knowledge of the justice
                         system.



                         Page 24                                     GAO/NSIAD-99-195 Foreign Assistance
Appendix II
U.S. Rule of Law Assistance to El Salvador




USAID has helped the Salvadoran government improve the criminal justice
system, enhance judicial independence and professionalism, and further
institutional coordination and planning. USAID assisted the Salvadoran
government’s efforts to revise its criminal, juvenile, and family codes and
helped develop three operating manuals for implementing these codes.1
USAID also reports that 68,000 backlogged cases have been resolved,
14 new prosecutor offices have opened, and the number and salaries of
prosecutors and public defenders have increased. USAID assistance has
helped enhance judicial independence and professionalism through its
efforts to aid the government in restructuring the Supreme Court, improve
the judicial training school, enact a judicial career law, and conduct annual
independent evaluations of judges. The Office of the Human Rights
Ombudsman was also created with donor assistance.

USAID has helped improve coordination and planning within the justice
system by providing assistance to establish and strengthen a Justice Sector
Coordinating Commission. The commission is composed of the heads of
most criminal justice institutions, and USAID assists this organization’s
technical secretariat in developing and implementing a comprehensive
5-year plan. During our meeting with the members of this commission, they
emphasized that the U.S. rule of law assistance had been critical to their
reform efforts both individually and collectively. For example, the Chief
Justice noted that USAID projects had been key to enhancing the judicial
career path and the capabilities of the Judicial School and the National
Council on the Judiciary. More importantly, he noted that USAID projects
had helped him and other heads of criminal justice institutions understand
that they would need to work together to implement the reform
successfully. The Prosecutor General and the Public Defender made similar
statements about the contribution of the USAID projects to the reform
efforts within and between criminal justice institutions. USAID also
reported that, as a result of the reform, cases in family courts have
increased by 85 percent; 4,500 civil society individuals have been trained in
the new laws; and citizen confidence that the justice system can provide a
fair trial increased from 30 percent in 1995 to 45 percent in 1997, as
measured by public opinion polls.

Consistent with its efforts to strengthen justice system institutions, USAID
plans to continue its support for the Justice Sector Coordinating


1
 El Salvador revised its criminal procedures code in December 1996 and its criminal and penitentiary
(sentencing) codes in April 1997. All of the codes became effective in April 1998.




Page 25                                                    GAO/NSIAD-99-195 Foreign Assistance
         Appendix II
         U.S. Rule of Law Assistance to El Salvador




         Commission and its technical secretariat. The agency is focusing on
         strengthening these organizations’ capabilities to identify and respond to
         problems arising from the implementation of the recently passed reforms
         and effectively coordinate donor assistance to the justice system. Other
         areas supported by USAID’s current program include (1) funding popular
         legal education, (2) financing on-the-job training for prosecutors to equip
         them with the new skills needed to implement the reforms, (3) providing
         equipment to increase the geographic coverage of prosecutors and public
         defenders, (4) expanding the use of conciliation and mediation to avoid
         court congestion, and (5) improving transparency by strengthening the
         capability of justice institutions to provide reliable information to the
         public and the media.



ICITAP   ICITAP objectives for El Salvador have centered on improving the
         capabilities of the police academy and the Civilian National Police. ICITAP
         has primarily provided training and technical assistance to these police
         organizations, although it has also provided equipment and supplies.

         At the police academy, ICITAP supported both basic and specialized
         training, with the goal of strengthening the overall capabilities of the police.
         With ICITAP support, the academy trained nearly 19,000 police personnel.
         ICITAP estimates that about 1,600 of these were from the former security
         apparatus who were vetted and incorporated into the new force. ICITAP
         also funded management training for the leaders of the academy to make
         this institution sustainable. In addition, ICITAP supported training on the
         requirements of the new criminal codes and helped to develop an
         instruction manual. In our visit to the police academy, the head of the
         academy emphasized that the U.S. rule of law assistance had been critical
         to establish and operate the academy.

         Within the Civilian National Police, ICITAP has sought to institutionalize
         administrative and operational changes so that this organization will be
         capable of guaranteeing public security while respecting internationally
         recognized human rights. For example, ICITAP

         • funded specialized police training in 36 different areas to supplement
           the basic training provided by the academy,
         • helped develop the Police Operations Department and trained its
           personnel in police intervention, and
         • helped to develop new criminal and background investigation units.




         Page 26                                       GAO/NSIAD-99-195 Foreign Assistance
                       Appendix II
                       U.S. Rule of Law Assistance to El Salvador




                       ICITAP also assisted the police in establishing a crime laboratory and
                       trained crime scene investigators in proper evidence-gathering techniques.
                       During our visit to the laboratory, we noted that it provided basic forensic
                       services, but little else. Laboratory officials told us that they needed
                       additional resources to update the laboratory capabilities. Also, ICITAP
                       supported the development and implementation of a 911-pilot program in
                       the Santa Ana area. According to Santa Ana police officials with whom we
                       met and ICITAP reports, this pilot program has helped lower crime rates
                       and increase citizen confidence in the police. The Public Security Ministry
                       plans to replicate this program nationwide.



Remaining Challenges   Despite efforts to restructure and strengthen judicial and law enforcement
                       institutions since 1992, El Salvador only recently began implementing its
                       new criminal codes to improve criminal investigations, prosecutions, and
                       trials as well as training justice officials on the requirements imposed on
                       the criminal justice system by these codes. El Salvador’s criminal justice
                       system still experiences serious problems, including arbitrary arrests,
                       lengthy pretrial detentions, inefficiency, and corruption. Although the
                       Salvadoran government has taken steps to discipline judicial and law
                       enforcement officials guilty of abuse and corruption, problems remain, and
                       less than half of Salvadoran citizens have confidence in the capabilities of
                       the justice system to ensure a fair trial.

                       U.S. officials emphasized that El Salvador’s commitment to criminal justice
                       reform is encouraging and that judicial and law enforcement institutions
                       are working to implement the reform fully. However, reform
                       implementation still faces many challenges. El Salvador’s limited criminal
                       justice system infrastructure and capabilities, corruption of justice
                       officials, and high levels of crime—in part associated with a legacy of
                       violence inherited from the 12-year civil war—complicate the reform
                       efforts of judicial and law enforcement institutions. For example,
                       according to the Chief Justice, the court system lacks adequate
                       infrastructure and equipment—including computer hardware and
                       software—and most judges and other court personnel need training to
                       improve their skills and capabilities for working in the reformed system.
                       Also, according to U.S. officials, the high levels of crime overwhelm the
                       resources and capabilities of criminal justice institutions and further
                       undermine public confidence in a criminal justice system that still is
                       ineffective and provides limited access to justice.




                       Page 27                                      GAO/NSIAD-99-195 Foreign Assistance
Appendix III

U.S. Rule of Law Assistance to Guatemala                                                                                          AppeInx
                                                                                                                                        Idi




                         From 1960 to 1996, Guatemala was plagued by an internal armed conflict
                         between leftist insurgents and government forces that claimed about
                         150,000 lives and displaced about a million people. Political violence,
                         widespread human rights abuse, and lack of due process were the norm
                         during the conflict. After working to improve its criminal justice system for
                         several years, in 1992 Guatemala enacted legislation designed to modernize
                         its criminal code. The new code became effective in 1994. In December
                         1996, the warring factions signed a peace agreement. The peace accord
                         provided the impetus for an increase in assistance from international
                         donors for, among other things, further reforming judicial institutions and
                         developing a civilian police force.



U.S. Rule of Law         Since 1993, U.S. rule of law assistance for improving the Guatemalan
                         criminal justice system has totaled almost $17 million. USAID and ICITAP
Assistance and Related   have provided most of this assistance, with more than $10 million and
Results                  almost $7 million, respectively.



USAID                    In recent years, USAID has focused on supporting efforts to implement the
                         peace accord and the new criminal code. USAID’s objectives also included
                         improving public access to justice outside the capital city.1 USAID is
                         transitioning from a $5.7-million criminal justice reform program that
                         began in 1993—the Judicial Sector Reform Support Project—to a new,
                         $10-million reform program that will run from 1999 to 2002. USAID
                         provided additional funds for related justice sector activities, including a
                         1-year extension of the first project and grants to the U.N. Mission in
                         Guatemala, bringing the total amount of the USAID program to more than
                         $10 million from 1993 to 1998. The focus of the first justice reform project
                         was to strengthen principal justice sector institutions so they could support
                         implementation of the new criminal code. The revised code aimed to
                         strengthen criminal investigations, prosecutions, and trial procedures.
                         The program included support to judges and other court officials,
                         prosecutors, investigators, public defenders, private sector attorneys, and
                         law schools. The project also included management assistance to the
                         school for judges and the school for prosecutors as well as two pilot justice
                         centers.


                         1
                          In 1997, Guatemala had a population of 10.5 million people. About half were considered indigenous and
                         many lived in remote areas with limited infrastructure and access to government services. More than
                         80 percent of the indigenous population are considered extremely poor.




                         Page 28                                                    GAO/NSIAD-99-195 Foreign Assistance
         Appendix III
         U.S. Rule of Law Assistance to Guatemala




         USAID played a key role in supporting the development and
         implementation of the revised code. The agency also was a primary factor
         in helping establish judicial institutions, such as the Public Defender’s
         Office and the Justice Sector Coordinating Commission. USAID’s support
         included technical assistance, training, and the production of legal
         materials. Judges, prosecutors, and public defenders in Guatemala have
         been trained in the requirements of the revised criminal code through the
         USAID program. USAID is also supporting revisions to the curriculum of
         the only public law school in Guatemala to make it consistent with the
         reformed criminal justice system. Course materials on trial practice and
         advocacy are being produced in collaboration with another university.

         USAID officials also noted the agency’s assistance in decentralizing the
         prosecutor’s office and improving its investigative and prosecutorial
         capabilities. For example, with USAID’s technical assistance, Guatemala
         designed and implemented a new case management system for
         prosecutors. USAID efforts have also helped develop policy guidelines and
         standardized case reporting forms for coordinating the work of
         prosecutors and police investigators.

         USAID supported the establishment of two pilot justice centers in
         Quetzaltenango and Zacapa. These centers were designed to improve
         access to justice sector services through the use of alternative dispute
         resolution mechanisms. Among other advances, the two centers have
         installed modern docket and case filing systems to provide more efficient
         services to the public. The centers promote a team approach to legal
         problem-solving by bringing together judicial and law enforcement
         officials, including judges, prosecutors, investigators, and other police
         officers. In our visit to the Zacapa center, a judge told us the centers
         provide a unique service and make justice available to the average citizen in
         the area. Due to the success of the two pilot centers, the government plans
         to replicate these pilots at the national level with donor assistance.


ICITAP   While the Spanish Civil Guard has the primary responsibility for training
         police recruits, ICITAP is providing about $3 million per year in rule of law
         assistance to complement the Spanish effort. ICITAP has helped with
         efforts to restructure and professionalize the police’s Criminal Investigative
         Service by providing training, technical assistance, and other support.
         ICITAP also is supporting the Criminal Investigative School, the forensics
         laboratory, the Special Cases Unit for investigating high-profile cases, and
         the Background Investigation Unit for screening police recruits. Other



         Page 29                                      GAO/NSIAD-99-195 Foreign Assistance
                       Appendix III
                       U.S. Rule of Law Assistance to Guatemala




                       ICITAP assistance has involved efforts to automate case management and
                       strengthen the Office of Professional Responsibility.

                       In 1997, ICITAP trained almost 700 members of the police in basic,
                       intermediate, and advanced criminal investigation techniques. ICITAP
                       supplied the justice centers with equipment to enable the police to
                       communicate directly with prosecutors. ICITAP also trained 120 judges and
                       prosecutors from high crime areas in investigations and crime scene
                       procedure and is working with prosecutors and investigators to develop an
                       investigation manual. In addition, ICITAP donated computer equipment to
                       the police and provided computer training to facilitate case management,
                       tracking, and file reviews. This has allowed the police’s Criminal
                       Investigative Service access to previously unavailable databases, such as
                       those containing information on passports, criminal histories, stolen
                       vehicles, and drivers’ licenses. ICITAP also provided key equipment, such
                       as microscopes and cameras, to the forensics laboratory, as well as related
                       training.



Remaining Challenges   Guatemala is still implementing its reform of the criminal justice system.
                       Guatemala has not fully put in place the new criminal codes aimed at
                       enhancing criminal investigations, prosecutions, and trials. Moreover, the
                       criminal justice system is plagued by serious problems, including arbitrary
                       arrests, lengthy pretrial detention, inefficiency, and corruption among
                       judicial and law enforcement officials. The justice system also fails to
                       capture large numbers of wrongdoers. Due to the strong public concern
                       about the high crime rate, the government is relying on the military to assist
                       the new police force in patrolling rural areas.

                       The recent rejection in a national referendum of some of the changes
                       needed to implement the peace accord presents a major challenge to
                       sustaining the commitment to criminal justice reform. Also, as USAID has
                       pointed out, the government’s funding for critical social services, such as
                       the justice system, remains inadequate. Reform efforts in the justice system
                       are further complicated by high levels of crime—in part the legacy of the
                       long armed conflict—and the presence of a large indigenous population,
                       which is mostly poor and has its own languages and traditions. The donor
                       community, including USAID, is concerned about the government’s
                       institutional capability to implement the reforms required by the peace
                       accord. A major challenge for the Guatemalan government is to take
                       advantage of this window of opportunity in which donor assistance is
                       available to implement further justice system reform.



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Appendix IV

U.S. Rule of Law Assistance to Honduras                                                                  Appenx
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                                                                                                              IV




                         Honduras’ history as an independent republic was marked until recently by
                         extended periods of military rule. In 1982, yielding to domestic and
                         international pressures, the Honduran military turned over the government
                         to civilian control. Democratically elected presidents have headed the
                         government since then. However, the military remained in charge of the
                         police until the mid-1990s. In 1993, following a series of violent
                         demonstrations, a new president was elected on a platform whose
                         priorities included improving the criminal justice system and enhancing
                         respect for human rights. Judicial and law enforcement changes ensued. In
                         late 1993, Honduras abolished the military investigative police but
                         maintained the national police under military control. Also, Honduras
                         established a Public Ministry having responsibility for the prosecutor’s
                         office and civilian investigative police. A constitutional amendment that the
                         Honduran Congress ratified in 1996 removed the national police from
                         military control. In 1998, the passage of the police organic law brought
                         together the national civilian police and the Public Ministry’s investigative
                         police under a Ministry of Security.



U.S. Rule of Law         Improving the criminal justice system in Honduras is closely intertwined
                         with strengthening democracy and promoting economic growth. To
Assistance and Related   support this effort, USAID and ICITAP have implemented most of the U.S.
Results                  rule of law assistance to Honduras. USAID provided about $8 million in
                         rule of law assistance between 1987 and 1998 to help improve judicial
                         institutions. The agency is planning to provide more than $7 million
                         between 1999 and 2002. ICITAP has provided about $4 million in rule of law
                         assistance from 1994 through 1999 to help establish a civilian national
                         police force.



USAID                    Since the late 1980s, USAID rule of law assistance has focused on
                         improving criminal justice system organizations, including the courts,
                         prosecutor, and public defender. This assistance also sought to enhance the
                         population’s access to the justice system. USAID's justification for
                         providing rule of law assistance is that “a strengthened justice system and
                         Rule of Law are critical to the continuing stability of democracy in
                         Honduras.” Currently, the USAID program is focusing on supporting the
                         enactment and implementation of a new criminal code, which is pending
                         before the Honduran legislature.

                         USAID began obligating funds for rule of law activities to Honduras in 1987
                         as part of a broader program known as Strengthening Democratic



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Appendix IV
U.S. Rule of Law Assistance to Honduras




Institutions. Through fiscal year 1998, obligations in support of rule of law
activities totaled about $6.7 million. A second program devoted exclusively
to rule of law activities, known as the Strengthened Rule of Law and
Respect for Human Rights program, began obligating funds in fiscal year
1997. This project is funded through 2002, with a total budget of about
$8.5 million.

Beginning in 1994, USAID’s rule of law program started to support the
establishment and strengthening of a prosecutor’s office in the newly
created Public Ministry. This support was intended to build up not only the
institutional structure of the office and the Public Ministry but also the
capabilities of prosecutors to satisfy the requirements of a new criminal
procedures code. This code is expected to substantially change the way
criminal investigations, prosecutions, and trials are conducted. In the
courts, USAID’s program has supported efforts to improve administrative
practices and establish merit-based selection mechanisms for judges and
court personnel. At the Supreme Court, the program has funded activities
aimed at strengthening the Inspector General's Office, which monitors
judicial performance. The program has supported training court personnel
on the requirements of the new code.

USAID's program has also included activities aimed at building public
support for justice system reform. The agency has provided small grants to
private sector organizations that have become active in reforming the
justice system and in promoting passage of the proposed new code. USAID
also developed a small program to bring Honduran law students to the
United States to visit U.S. courts and law schools to witness first-hand how
our system works.

USAID’s rule of law assistance supported the work of the Honduran
National Judicial Reform Commission, which drafted the proposals
creating the Public Ministry in late 1993 and the court’s Inspector General
Office in 1995. USAID provided assistance to the Public Ministry to help it
get underway. According to Honduran officials, creation of the Public
Ministry has raised expectations in the general population that it is possible
for anyone—not only the wealthy or powerful--to approach the court
system and demand justice.

Honduran officials noted USAID's support for the court’s Inspector General
Office. One Supreme Court Justice said the Inspector General has been
able to stem the tide of corruption and improve performance by publicly
going after some judges found to be violating established judicial



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         Appendix IV
         U.S. Rule of Law Assistance to Honduras




         requirements. High-profile Inspector General cases have put all judges “on
         notice” that they could be disciplined or lose their jobs. One concrete
         example of how judges' performance has improved since the creation of
         the Inspector General's Office is the fact that judges now keep track of
         persons who are in jail pending judgment on cases for which they are
         responsible.

         USAID has also supported the reorganization and computerization of the
         court system. USAID provided computer hardware, software, and related
         training for this effort. A computerized jurisprudence information system
         was developed and put in place to enable magistrates, judges, public
         defenders, and other judicial officials to access previous court decisions.
         Technical assistance, training, and other support, including reference
         materials, were also provided to strengthen the courts. Similarly, technical
         assistance, training, and logistics support were given to the Judicial School
         to help upgrade the skills of judges, particularly in criminal law. Moreover,
         the Public Defenders Office, which is part of the court system, was
         strengthened and expanded through training, salary upgrades, internship
         programs, and application of the judicial career law criteria.


ICITAP   During the 1990s, ICITAP's rule of law program supported both the national
         police and the criminal investigative police, which were brought together
         under the Ministry of Security in 1998. ICITAP's support for the national
         police included training command staff, developing policy and procedures
         manuals, and providing assistance to the police academies, which train
         officers and recruits. Support for the criminal investigative police has
         involved establishing a comprehensive training program for all personnel,
         developing manuals and procedural guides, strengthening the capabilities
         of the forensics laboratory, and enhancing organizational, administrative,
         and operational capabilities. ICITAP provides basic and specialized
         training. Specialized training focuses on investigation of auto theft,
         financial crimes, and robbery/burglary, and providing crisis management in
         the event of a kidnapping or bombing. ICITAP also supports joint training
         for prosecutors and investigators.

         Public and private officials in Honduras acknowledged the key role ICITAP
         played in helping the police make a transition from a military to a civilian
         institution. One official emphasized that U.S. agencies had provided
         training, technical assistance, and equipment to the police and that,
         without this assistance, it could have been months before the police were
         properly trained and equipped.



         Page 33                                     GAO/NSIAD-99-195 Foreign Assistance
                       Appendix IV
                       U.S. Rule of Law Assistance to Honduras




                       Also, ICITAP has supported the investigative police's forensics laboratory,
                       through specialized technical training for its technicians in Central America
                       and the United States and funding for the maintenance of laboratory
                       equipment. Honduran officials noted that the training, technical assistance,
                       and laboratory equipment the United States provided have allowed the
                       investigative police to provide the scientific data needed for successfully
                       prosecuting criminal cases. In addition, ICITAP has given key technical
                       assistance to the police academies to improve training. ICITAP has helped
                       reform the curriculum of the academies, promoting courses on
                       professional responsibility, planning, and communications.



Remaining Challenges   The immediate challenge facing justice system reform efforts in Honduras
                       is to enact a new criminal code designed to improve how criminal
                       investigations, prosecutions, and trials are conducted. The Honduran
                       legislature was considering a bill for reforming the code during the fall of
                       1998, but consideration was put off for several reasons, including
                       Hurricane Mitch. It is now expected that the new code will pass in 1999.

                       According to U.S. officials, another immediate challenge facing reform
                       efforts has arisen from the decision of the current Honduran administration
                       to disregard judicial career track guidelines in appointing and dismissing
                       judges. Although progress has been made in prosecuting and dismissing
                       corrupt judicial officials, this decision can compromise future efforts to
                       remove such officials. U.S. officials note that these immediate challenges
                       should not call into question the need to provide rule of law assistance to
                       Honduras as it attempts to implement further reforms of its criminal justice
                       system.

                       Even if the criminal code is approved, Honduras will face other challenges.
                       For example, Honduras will have to obtain domestic and, probably,
                       international resources to carry out this reform; train all the justice officials
                       on the requirements of the new system; and implement throughout the
                       country the changes needed to reform the system.




                       Page 34                                        GAO/NSIAD-99-195 Foreign Assistance
Appendix V

U.S. Rule of Law Assistance to Panama                                                                                        Appe
                                                                                                                                nx
                                                                                                                                 Vdi




                         According to USAID, after the removal of former dictator Noriega in
                         December 1989, Panama’s government institutions needed total rebuilding.
                         The criminal justice system had to reverse a legacy of mismanagement,
                         neglect, and corruption. Panama appointed a new Supreme Court and
                         strengthened judicial and law enforcement institutions, including the
                         courts, the public defender’s office, the prosecutor’s office, and the Judicial
                         Technical Police—which conducts criminal investigations. In December
                         1998, the Judicial Technical Police became a semiautonomous institution
                         with leaders appointed by the Supreme Court.



U.S. Rule of Law         Since 1990, the United States has provided more than $43 million to help
                         enhance the capabilities of Panamanian judges, prosecutors, investigators,
Assistance and Related   and public defenders and their organizations. USAID has provided about
Results                  $9.6 million in rule of law assistance to help improve judicial institutions,
                         while ICITAP has provided about $33.7 million to support the
                         establishment and strengthening of a national police force.


USAID                    USAID’s rule of law program has sought to strengthen criminal justice
                         system institutions, including the courts, the prosecutor and public
                         defender’s offices, and the Judicial Technical Police. USAID terminated this
                         program in September 1997 as part of an overall effort to reduce its
                         overseas presence. More recently, USAID began developing a new rule of
                         law program intended to provide assistance to areas not supported by
                         other donors.

                         U.S. rule of law training and technical assistance have helped enhance the
                         capabilities of judges, prosecutors, investigators, and public defenders and
                         their organizations. The USAID program supported a fundamental change
                         in the operation of Panama’s investigative police. According to Panamanian
                         officials, before the reform of the police, Panamanian police investigators
                         worked as a secret service, without regard for human rights or due process.
                         USAID rule of law assistance also helped investigators improve their ability
                         to collect more timely evidence while adhering to legal requirements,
                         according to an evaluation of the program.1 Moreover, because prosecutors
                         are now better prepared and involved from the early stages of an



                         1
                          Improved Administration of Justice: Project Evaluation, Management Systems International (Panama
                         City, Panama: Sept. 5, 1997).




                         Page 35                                                  GAO/NSIAD-99-195 Foreign Assistance
         Appendix V
         U.S. Rule of Law Assistance to Panama




         investigation, they have had higher conviction rates and fewer dismissals of
         cases for lack of evidence.

         When legislation was passed in 1991 integrating the work of prosecutors
         and investigators, they resisted working together. According to
         Panamanian officials, USAID assistance helped reverse this situation.

         USAID assistance has supported the professionalization of the judicial
         organizations through the training of all personnel; the development of
         professional career tracks for judges and prosecutors; and the
         establishment of law libraries in the Supreme Court, Public Ministry, and
         the Judicial School. According to a USAID evaluation, the agency’s program
         sponsored a “whirlwind” of training activities for judges, prosecutors,
         clerks of court, and investigative police, among others. The training has
         done much to modify attitudes and provide needed skills in the judicial
         sector, creating a sense of professionalism among judiciary personnel who
         received the training.

         The USAID program also supported the Public Defenders Office by
         providing the building needed for housing the Office in a single facility in
         the capital city, as well as computers, furniture, and other equipment. The
         program also paid the salaries of seven additional public defenders and
         some administrative staff. The salaries of the seven defenders were
         eventually incorporated into the Office’s budget.

         USAID is about to begin a new rule of law program in 1999 at a cost of
         $2.7 million over 4 years. USAID’s goal for its new rule of law program is to
         further facilitate the legal and policy changes needed to sustain fair, fast,
         and independent criminal and commercial justice systems. Whereas the
         last program supported large-scale institution building, the new program
         will be smaller in scope. It will attempt to fill gaps in assistance not
         addressed by a 1998 justice sector reform project of the Inter-American
         Development Bank. Areas under consideration for USAID’s new program
         include supporting civil society groups to generate demand for further legal
         reforms and completing activities left unfinished by the last program,
         including the automation of case-tracking systems and integration of
         investigative police and prosecutors.


ICITAP   From 1990 through 1999, ICITAP has helped develop the Panamanian
         National Police and the Judicial Technical Police. ICITAP is providing
         training for new instructors and helping the police develop a career ladder



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Appendix V
U.S. Rule of Law Assistance to Panama




for officers and create integrated information management systems.
ICITAP is also supporting efforts by the Judicial Technical Police to
establish a comprehensive personnel system, set up case management and
crime analysis systems, improve database links between criminal justice
components, train new instructors in advanced subjects, and continue its
support for the forensics laboratory. In the final year of its program, ICITAP
is shifting its focus from broad institutional development to more
specialized training to leave Panamanian law enforcement agencies with
self-sustaining reforms. After the USAID program ended in 1997, ICITAP
took over the task of integrating the work of investigators and prosecutors.

During the 1990s, ICITAP played a major role in the successful creation and
establishment of the new civilian-run national police force. ICITAP
provided training in civilian policing and investigative techniques,
supported the training academies, gave basic equipment to the institutions,
and helped establish an office of professional responsibility. The transition
of public security to civilian control was a major achievement, according to
private sector representatives.

According to a 1997 evaluation of the ICITAP program,2 the national police
enjoy an improved image among the population. A March 1997 poll
conducted for the newspaper La Prensa revealed that 64 percent of those
polled believed that the police conduct was good or excellent, while
34 percent believed it was bad or very bad. Private sector groups also
complimented the progress made by the police, crediting ICITAP with
successfully instilling the police with professionalism and respect for
human rights. They also stated that petty corruption by police officers,
which was the rule under the Noriega regime, had virtually disappeared.

ICITAP also shares credit for the development of the Judicial Technical
Police. ICITAP’s support helped establish a criminal forensic laboratory.
The laboratory now has fully staffed and equipped sections for
photography, latent fingerprints, crime scene response, firearms and tool
marks, questioned documents, and drug analysis. Laboratory officials are
now capable of supplying investigative information routinely and testifying
in court.




2
 Assessment of the ICITAP Program for the Development of Panama’s Police Systems, 1994-1997
(Panama City, Panama: Sept. 1997).




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                       Appendix V
                       U.S. Rule of Law Assistance to Panama




Remaining Challenges   Most Panama officials we spoke with noted that USAID rule of law
                       assistance had helped strengthen judicial and law enforcement institutions.
                       However, despite significant achievements since the early 1990s, Panama’s
                       criminal justice institutions are still deficient and corrupt.

                       According to Panamanian officials, Panama needs to provide additional
                       legal training for its justice sector personnel; complete efforts to automate
                       criminal records; improve the effectiveness of criminal investigations,
                       prosecutions, and trials; increase civil society involvement in the reform
                       process; and enhance the independence of the judicial branch from the
                       executive branch. But additional resources are needed. For example,
                       judicial officials stated that, without USAID resources, efforts to automate
                       the records management system in four district courts and the capital city
                       archives have slowed considerably. They thought that it was doubtful that
                       domestic resources would be available to automate beyond the five
                       locations. Similarly, a private sector official noted that the judicial school
                       has cut back its course offerings when Panama is facing the greatest need
                       for training judges and prosecutors. According to a Panamanian official,
                       judicial personnel will need training in commercial, maritime, labor, and
                       environmental law as Panama gains full control of the Panama Canal in the
                       year 2000.




                       Page 38                                      GAO/NSIAD-99-195 Foreign Assistance
Appendix VI

Comments From USAID                                       Appenx
                                                               diI
                                                               V




              Page 39   GAO/NSIAD-99-195 Foreign Assistance
Appendix VI
Comments From USAID




Page 40               GAO/NSIAD-99-195 Foreign Assistance
Appendix VII

GAO Contacts and Staff Acknowledgments                                                              Appex
                                                                                                        nIdi
                                                                                                        V




GAO Contacts          Jess Ford, (202) 512-4268
                      A.H. Huntington, III, (202) 512-4140



Acknowledgments       In addition to those named above, Juan Tapia-Videla, Audrey Solis, Jeanette
                      Velis, Juan Gobel, Howard Cott, Mark B. Dowling, and Richard Seldin made
                      key contributions to this report.




(711326)       Lte
                 rt   Page 41                                    GAO/NSIAD-99-195 Foreign Assistance
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