Research project on access to justice
Initiated in mid-2014, the research project on access to justice and development approaches ASF’s purpose from a scientific perspective. The project’s aim is to highlight the impact of ASF’s work and the relation among access to justice, rule of law, and economic and social development in our countries of intervention.
This project responds to growing demand within the cooperation sector for concrete evidence of the positive effects of development programmes. For several years in the justice and rule of law sector in particular, various stakeholders have expressed a specific need for the production and dissemination of evidence of projects’ impacts in the field: impact on rule of law effectiveness, impact on economic and social development processes in general – local or national, community or institutional – and on the reduction of poverty in particular. In these cooperation programmes, the law is often used as a tool for reducing social and economic inequality and increasing the effectiveness of the rule of law in favour of the poorest and most marginalised people.
In the long term, concrete proof of the positive impact of this approach remains rare and less reliable than in other sectors, such as health and education.
The project proposes a range of specific activities:
- Intellectual reflection on the evaluation of access to justice, the objectives and methodologies of ASF projects and other projects in the sector;
- Field surveys and analysis of projects and of their socio-economic environment,
- Dissemination of the results internally and in development cooperation and academic settings to stimulate discussion.
The second half of 2014 saw the beginning of the theoretical work, together with a series of field studies on access to justice in Burundi, a country in which ASF has been active for over fifteen years. Between November 2014 and April 2015, 3,600 people and 100 justice key actors were interviewed, in the specific fields of local access to justice and preventive detention. This work has already been delivered internally and recommendations have been taken on board for future ASF programmes in Burundi. Specifically, it was demonstrated that a real contribution has been made to ensuring that people seeking justice were more proactive, asserted their rights and took responsibility for their case themselves. Ultimately, although huge challenges still remain, their rights were better respected there than in provinces in which ASF is not present. Several publications on that topic are in the pipeline. Further field surveys are planned in late 2015 and 2016 in Tunisia and DRC, for publication and dissemination.