Restoring Public Confidence in Côte d'Ivoire's Justice System

Speeches Shim

A court officer and a police officer discusses in an office
Law enforcement and court officers in Côte d’Ivoire have improved communication and cooperation.
USAID ProJustice
Joint trainings for police and prosecutors improve justice sector efficiency
“The collaborative approach is now implemented on a daily basis in our jurisdiction.”

December 2016—For a long period, residents of Côte d’Ivoire’s city of Dimbokro, as in most cities in the country, lacked trust in the justice system. In fact, the entire justice system was perceived as inefficient, unfair and slow to act.

Today, with the support of USAID, the Ivoirian Government is making significant strides to rebuild the rule of law and restore public confidence in the justice sector after years of unrest and stagnation. USAID’s ProJustice program is carrying out intensive training to improve communication, cooperation and effectiveness of investigation, prosecution and court proceedings for all participants in the justice process, including prosecutors and judicial police officers (JPOs).

JPOs are legally entitled to search for violations of law, to gather evidence, and to search for perpetrators in cooperation with prosecutors and investigating judges.

Before the training, JPOs did not always enforce request letters and warrants issued by judges due to insufficient knowledge of procedures. The officers also did not always properly enforce custody of suspects by observing a 48-hour time limit and other defense rights. Prosecutors and JPOs did not communicate with each other sufficiently about ongoing investigations.

“The joint training provided by ProJustice was very beneficial for both the magistrates and judicial police officers of the Dimbokro jurisdiction. This training was practical and concrete, and the interactive workshops allowed rich exchanges between participants,” said Jean Brou, local prosecutor at the Court Section of Dimbokro, one of USAID’s 11 pilot courts.

Today, the results are tangible. Protocols of communication and cooperation are set in place between prosecutors, JPOs and investigating judges during the preliminary investigation. Responsibilities are clearly defined for keeping suspects in custody.

“The collaborative approach learned during the training is now implemented on a daily basis in our jurisdiction,” declared Brou.

According to Luc Bahou, USAID’s pilot court coordinator in Dimbokro, since the training, the local prosecutor now calls the JPO units every morning to monitor in real time all pending cases. The newly trained JPOs closely monitor suspects in custody, ensuring that legal requirements are followed, particularly within the specified timeframe. They also regularly report to the prosecutor and ask for instructions on how to proceed with pending investigations, demonstrating a renewed commitment to their responsibilities and taking pride in improving the delivery of justice in their jurisdiction.

Since 2014, more than 580 people have been trained under the ProJustice program. In addition to its training component, the program, which runs from 2013 to 2018, is designed to strengthen the public’s access to and understanding of the justice system and its processes.