International Institute for Justice and Development

The Justice System Reform Initiative

The justice system reform initiative is designed to assist in reforming justice systems and establishing independent judiciaries that foster democratic governance, and provide security and protection for all.  Where justice systems conform to international standards on civil, economic and political rights and where they are fair, transparent, reliable and accountable, states and their people thrive. Strong justice systems provide the security necessary for business and investment to grow; give citizens the power to challenge their government and leaders; respect individual rights; and, support democratic governance.  This initiative involves both an assessment phase to evaluate the current state of justice systems and a subsequent reform phase.

Current assessment projects in this program are the African justice system index, which is supported by the justice surveys:

Justice System Index

The IIJD has created the Africa Justice Index (AJI) based on several indicators developed in the justice system reform toolkit (the toolkit). The toolkit guides our investigation into the current state of justice systems, and helps evaluate the institutions that comprise a justice system: the judiciary, police force, prison system, and the mechanisms of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). The toolkit presents characteristics necessary for a healthy and efficient justice system, such as transparency, accountability, impartiality, efficiency, accessibility, predictability and legitimacy. In addition, the central facet of judicial independence is examined due to its fundamental importance in developing a well functioning legal system that supports democratic governance and foster sustainable development. These identified qualities of judiciaries, prison systems, police force and ADRs have been translated into carefully developed indicators and parameters that determine to what extent the justice systems we study possess these characteristics.

The Africa Justice Index, in which each country is rated based on the indicators in the toolkit, will be made public through this website.

Justice Surveys Project

To complement the results of research, analysis and assessment of indicators developed in the toolkit, the IIJD has created two comprehensive opinion surveys to gather first-hand perceptions of African justice systems from both Africans on the continent and Africans living abroad.

The African justice survey is a nationwide survey conducted in African countries to measure the opinions and perceptions of Africans concerning the state of their justice systems. The survey is conducted in all regions and among all ethnic, social, religious, professional and political groups. It incorporates the opinions and experiences of people from all strata of society regarding their reflections on justice in their community. The data collected is compiled using leading statistical programs to analyze opinions and data collected.

To further incorporate the voices of Africans into our evaluation of justice systems, we are also conducting the African Diaspora justice survey. This is a survey of Africans living outside of their native country. This survey will provide the prospective of individuals who have gained the privilege of distance in evaluating characteristics of their native country’s justice systems.