Guardians of Justice: innovative access to justice

Guardians of Justice: innovative access to justice

The Guardians of Justice (GoJ) programme, aims to improve the delivery of justice to people around the world. It does so through the empowerment of local Civil society organisations (CSOs). They will collect and use data about the justice needs of ordinary people, in their day to day lives, and analyse the paths they follow in order to deal with them. Armed with this data, these organisations progress to become Guardians of Justice whose aim it is to hold justice delivery organisations to account and to effectively push for change where it is needed most.

The programme features a four year lifecycle and is currently being piloted in Indonesia and the Netherlands with Bulgaria, Tunisia and Uganda next in the queue. The ambition is that within the next five years, the programme will be implemented in 30 countries worldwide and there will be hundreds of passionate, effective and capable Guardians of Justice battling for justice improvement worldwide.

Project Lifecycle

Stage 1: Data Collection (Survey)
Stage 2: Collaborative report writing effort (HiiL and Guardians). Report released every 3 months highlighting ‘red-flagged’ issues.
Stage 3: Starting the process of change to address ‘red-flagged’ issues.

The core added value of GoJ is the application of a unique perception based tool designed to measure the justice needs of ordinary people in their everyday lives. The justice needs are estimated by conducting a cross-sectional survey consisting of about 3000 randomly selected respondents per country. These users of justice are asked extensively about their justice needs and about the justice they received whilst seeking redress.

HiiL’s innovative project methodology measures paths to justice through people’s perceptions about the quality of the procedure, quality of the outcome and the costs of the path to justice.

The GoJ has two goals

Empowerment of local Guardians: by providing them with the necessary skills and tools to continue to monitor justice needs and to promote and incorporate innovative solutions.
Justice Sector Accountability: Regular monitoring will ensure accountability. This accountability will highlight the problem areas within justice supply chains, leading to the creation and implementation of bottom-up and effective change strategies.

6 Where can I get more information?

A factsheet about the project can be downloaded here

Project details

Project Leader: Dr Martin Gramatikov
Duration: 2011-Open end
Contact: Martin Gramatikov

Fact Sheet

Guardians of Justice fact seet

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are reasons to monitor justice sector performance?

Mutual trust in justice institutions, in cooperation between the police and courts, and in fair, effective migration procedures, performance/productivity of justice sector organisations, human rights, protection of victims, prevention of crime, rule of law and fundamental freedoms, economic growth depends on effective protection of property rights, contractual rights, labor rights, consumer rights, effective debt collection and insolvency.

2.  What is state of the art in monitoring?

  • Rule of law indicators at country level (World Justice Project and others) mostly based on perceptions regarding institutions (professionals and citizens)
  • Input indicators (number of courts, policemen etc.) and process indicators (are certain procedures in place) (CEPEJ and others.
  • Output indicators for courts and police (Harvard Kennedy School and others)
  • Established method for measuring access to justice as experienced by citizens (costs of access, procedural justice, outcome justice) in procedures (HiiL/Tisco and others)

3. What are the challenges reported in the literature?

These indicators are very useful. The challenge is to develop feed-back systems that are:

  • More actively used by local ‘guardians of justice’ to incentivize justice sector institutions
  • More actionable (clear who can take action and what they can do)
  • More frequent and richer in data/types of feed-back that can be generated
  • More oriented towards output and outcomes for citizens (in their most frequent and urgent justiciable problems)
  • Less dependent on general perceptions about governance issues from the media, less judgmental, more objective
  • More comparative (between countries, but also between similar institutions in one country)
  • Less costly to run and making more effective use of data collected

4. What are key elements of Justice Monitoring and Guardians of Justice Programme?

  • New data through survey among 2000 people per country (60 countries, every 4 years)
  • Estimated 800 will have had (urgent) justice problem in past five years
  • Ask them about experiences (3 cost dimensions, 7 justice dimensions)
  • Will give reliable data about how country institutions deal with most urgent and frequent problems
  • Using existing data (WJP, Transparency) to enhance this picture
  • Data will be delivered in detailed draft reports (3 or 4 per year) to local CSOs (standardized)
  • Local CSOs add their own observations/experiences/local indicators to reports
  • Local CSOs are empowered to become Guardians of Justice in their country and to interact with media, courts, police, ministry of justice etc.
  • During 4 year cycle reports will focus on topics such as: pre-trial detention, administrative justice, coping with theft, divorce, land conflicts, employment conflicts; but also general reports on ‘voice and participation’ in procedures, restorative justice, distributive justice, disposition times, or costs of access to justice are possible; international comparative or regional reports will be generated regularly as well, creating exposure for partners on regular basis