Programa Interamericano de Facilitadores Judiciales – Winner Innovating Justice Award 2011

Evi Pouwelse

Innovations Acquisition Manager HiiL Innovating Justice

Jun 23 2011

During the Law of the Future Conference on June 23, jury president mr Hassane Cisse - Deputy General Counsel, Knowledge and Research of World Bank group, announced the winner of the Innovating Justice Award 2011.

Innovating Justice and the jury would like to thank the other finalists, E-Court and Humanitarian Action for their participation.

The jury highlighted that Judicial Facilitators have been broadly implemented in four countries: Nicaragua, Guatemala, Panama and Paraguay, which makes it truly unique. Judicial Facilitators bring justice to people who would otherwise be excluded from the system due to practical barriers. Reaching more than 3 million underprivileged people is a great accomplishment but it could only be the beginning. A system involving the population in the Justice system, bridges the gap that so often exists between the formal legal system and true justice for those who need it most. The voluntary contribution of the Facilitators contributes to the much needed democratic governability.

This kind of service could be implemented in many more countries all over the world, reaching out to millions of people. But somebody had to have the courage to start with the idea and develop it. We know that it took blood sweat and tears to get to the point where you are now. That is the true work of innovators. It is often difficult to see ahead what the result of planting a seed can be. In the case of the Judicial Facilitators we see proven success but potentially an even more successful future.

Full Jury report as delivered by Chairman of the Jury, Hassane Cisse

The Jury consisted of:

  • Hassane Cisse, Deputy General Counsel, Knowledge and Research World Bank Group
  • Gabriela Knaul, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers
  • Veronica Taylor, Director Regulatory Institutions Network, Australian National University

Factors considered by the jury:

  • Rank by number of votes on each of the innovations
  • Rank by points given by each jury member for the answers to all 16 questions of the Innovation Model
  • Rank from each member of the jury

Before we announce the winner of the competition, I would like to congratulate all nominated organizations. The fact that your efforts have been recognized as a successful innovation should make you feel proud. We know that innovating means hard work and encountering lots of disappointments and setbacks. In spite of that, you continued and created a successful innovation.

This is even more admirable given the legal environment you are operating in. People in the Justice Sector tend to be rather conservative and although that might be useful in some cases, for innovators that means resistance to the change they are trying to create. Change that is much needed to get the Justice Sector ready for the demands of the 21st century.

And now to the three finalists. We are glad to have all of you here today. Some of you travelled from very far and had to go through a lot of trouble to be at this conference today. We saw that all of you have been working very hard to get enough votes to get to this final. The fact that you received so many votes means that people within your network appreciate and support your Innovation. All of you work in a different sector and in a different part of the world. It shows that the need for justice is widespread and that there is a wide range of possible solutions for various challenges.

The Three Finalists

Our three finalists are all remarkable examples of outstanding innovation. I would like to dedicate a few words to each one in random order. To begin with E-Court; Your initiative must have raised some eyebrows in your country. It’s a rather daring plan to start a private court. The signal to the public courts is clear; today’s society requires shorter court procedures for simple disputes. You made smart use of the existing laws in your country to give your verdicts real executing power. Because you go where no one has ever gone before, lots of questions were raised whether or not E-Court is allowed to do what it does. So far they haven’t been able to stop you, so it seems that you have the benefit of the doubt for the mean time. Without saying anything about the legality of E-Court, we can say that E-Court proves that it is possible to deliver a verdict within 6 weeks, using state of the art techniques and internet. That in itself is a great accomplishment and true innovation worthy of our praise.

The second finalist I would like to mention is the Russian organization Humanitarian Action that was nominated by our friends of the ‘Open Society Foundation’. They are actually saving lives which make them incomparable in their achievement. Health conditions in Russian prisons prove to be a real danger for vulnerable prisoners resulting in unnecessary deaths. One third of those prisoners are pretrial detainees whose guilt has not yet been proven. In exchange for release or medical assistance some officials require a confession to the crime. Unnecessary deaths have drawn the attention of the international community which resulted in a publication in the New York Times. President Medvedev called for a major overhaul of the country’s penal system and several officials were fired.

Humanitarian Action has been able to arrange provisional release for over 100 people in the past 2 years with a staff of only 2 part time employees. The method can easily be copied in other parts of the country and abroad. A simple but very effective method with outstanding results through the sheer persistence of the professionals involved. We hope many will follow your example.

And last but not least the service of the Judicial Facilitators. The fact that it is broadly implemented in four countries: Nicaragua, Guatemala, Panama and Paraguay, makes it truly unique. Judicial Facilitators bring justice to people who would otherwise be excluded from the system due to practical barriers. Reaching more than 3 million underprivileged people is a great accomplishment but it could only be the beginning. A system involving the population in the Justice system, bridges the gap that so often exists between the formal legal system and true justice for those who need it most. The voluntary contribution of the Facilitators contributes to the much needed democratic governability.

This kind of service could be implemented in many more countries all over the world, reaching out to millions of people. But somebody had to have the courage to start with the idea and develop it. We know that it took blood sweat and tears to get to the point where you are now. That is the true work of innovators. It is often difficult to see ahead what the result of planting a seed can be. In the case of the Judicial Facilitators we see proven success but potentially an even more successful future.

The Final Winner

We hope that all of the nomination inspire other innovators to continue their efforts. It is only through hard work and the inspiration of individuals and organizations, that innovations have a chance to succeed. All of you finalist deserve to win this Innovating Justice Award. In the end there can only be one winner however. We judged your innovations separate from each other and counted all the results together. It turned out that the jury was almost unanimous in their judgment. So we can say that the winner is truly recognized as the most successful innovation of this competition.

This work of art symbolizes one of the most important success factors for innovation and that is cooperation. Involving people and organizations whose world will change due to an innovation, will improve not only the quality of the innovation but will also increase the chance that the innovation will be accepted by all involved. The Award also symbolizes the fact that innovators should share their experiences and learn from each other. We hope that many others will follow the example of our winner and learn from their experience. The Final winner is: Judicial Facilitators.

Nine nominations, 27 things they may have done very well

Before the award ceremony, Innovating Justice chair Maurits Barendrecht presented the nine nominations and showed which factors enhance the possibility of successful innovation in this field. His message: Justice Innovators: We Better Reward Them!

Innovating Justice

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