Colombia Judicial Training Expert Assessor

  • Posted on 9 April 2019

Job Description

Overview

ABA ROLI is recruiting an expert assessor for an assessment team to conduct a baseline assessment to inform program activities in support of the Rodrigo Lara Bonilla Judicial School (referred to as the Judicial Training School, JTS) in Colombia. The assessment will cover the JTS’ organizational and operational infrastructure, curricula, job aids and training needs, ethics training, and strategies to integrate Kirkpatrick-model training evaluations, and training equipment needs. The assessment team will be made up of a lead expert assessor, other expert assessors from specialty profile areas, and a Colombian field coordinator. The assessment team will spend two weeks in Colombia in the late spring or early summer 2019 and deliver their notes and draft reports to ABA ROLI. Assessors must be professionally fluent in English and Spanish.

The assessment is funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.

Assessor Profile

The expert assessor should have expertise in at least one of the following areas: judicial education, operational infrastructure, judicial budgets, teaching methodologies, court administration, curriculum development, or other topics relevant to judicial training. The assessor will be provided a per diem, accommodations, travel to and within Colombia, and reimbursement of reasonable business expenses. The assessor should be professionally fluent in English and Spanish and be comfortable with travel to and within transitioning countries.

Assessor Tasks

Members of the assessment team will have the following responsibilities:

Task 1: Assessment Preparations

Working with ABA ROLI staff, the expert assessors will provide substantive expertise for pre-assessment preparations, including providing commentary on methodology, reviewing desk research prepared by ABA ROLI, participating in video or audio conferences with the assessment team and Colombian partners, and drafting interview/FGD protocols for the assessment. Assessors will also sign MOUs (which both stipulate their responsibilities in this project and provide them with benefits including insurance, travel stipends, and expense reimbursement), work with ABA ROLI and our travel agent to arrange travel, and track their time spent on assessment activities on a timesheet.

Task 2: Field Assessment

Assessors will travel to Colombia for two weeks to conduct site visits, key informant interviews, FGDs, and other activities in support of the field assessment, working closely with ABA ROLI staff and consultants. All fieldwork will be conducted in Spanish.

Task 3. Reporting

Assessors will prepare their draft analysis in the form of a narrative report, in English, following a template provided to the assessors by ABA ROLI. ABA ROLI will compile the analysis into the final assessment report. Following submission of the draft, assessors should be available to answer questions on their drafts on an as-needed basis. Assessors must also provide their notes from the field assessment to ABA ROLI for our records.

Points of Contact

Interested parties may submit a CV for consideration to jobs@americanbar.org

Background

The ability of Colombia’s judicial system to effectively and efficiently adjudicate criminal cases is essential to the country’s successful transition and development. Demand for judicial services has increased 53% over the last 10 years,[1] leading to severe backlog in the court system, which had an efficiency rate of less than 50% in 2016. This situation motivated, in 2011, the implementation of a national plan to reduce the number of pending cases. The congestion rate decreased from 58% to 46% between 2013 and 2016. Currently, the departments of Arauca, Caquetá, Casanare, Chocó, Cundinamarca, and San Andrés have the lowest efficiency rates.

Despite its importance, the education and training of new judges, as well as the continuing education of experienced judges, needs extensive upgrading. The Rodrigo Lara Bonilla Judicial School (referred to as the Judicial Training School, JTS) is responsible for the training and continuing education of some 5,422 judges (according to 2016 data), a cadre that grew 28% between 2006 and 2016. However, the JTS lacks the capacity to properly train judges and judicial staff to deliver justice efficiently and effectively, reduce impunity, punish corruption, and gain the trust of the citizenry, especially in Colombia’s rural municipalities.

The JTS faces several internal challenges that limit its ability to adequately respond to the growing number of justices and the need for ongoing, timely training. First, weak planning mechanisms and internal operational controls, inadequate technology, limited financial resources and skilled staff leave the JTS struggling to perform its basic functions. Second, the JTS lacks a coherent strategy for organizing the content and structure of the curricula, including updated courses on corruption, money laundering, judicial ethics, drug trafficking, organized crime, use of electronic evidence, and intellectual property theft. Third, the JTS lacks the capacity to assess whether its instruction improves academic performance of judges and judicial staff as well as the capacity to develop and implement innovative teaching methodologies and evaluation methods to address low performing strategies. Finally, the JTS is unable to perform necessary outreach to departments falling within the Government of Colombia’s five Strategic Operational Centers (CEOs), with the exception of Cucuta and Buenaventura.

The JTS, a unit under the Superior Council of the Judiciary (SJC), lacks financial, administrative, and technical autonomy. Its roughly 26 staff members, as well as operating costs, are paid by the SJC’s Executive Office for the Administration of Justice. The JTS’s planning processes are designed to manage its budget allocation, rather than the reverse: articulating its needs to advocate for an adequate budget to address previously identified gaps and expand its capacities to meet growing need. Its budget typically represents less than 10% of the judiciary’s budget. In 2017, it was just $6.8 million (19.3 million pesos); its 2018 budget is even smaller, at just $6.2 million (17.8 million pesos). While the small staff has computers with a basic Microsoft Office package, it lacks a database and a document management system, though it does have a virtual campus used for virtual courses and e-libraries to support continuing judicial education. Moreover, the courses provided by the JTS are taught by tribunal magistrates or high court justices who are not always available on a regular basis. Despite these limitations, the JTS has consistently implemented thousands of training activities in recent years. These have been disproportionately concentrated in Bogota, with very few opportunities reaching rural areas. Even those areas with deep, ongoing rule of law challenges such as Tumaco and Buenaventura are not targeted for additional training and capacity-building of justices.

Lacking a database or current digital tools, the JTS’s ability to evaluate its effectiveness is limited. It currently is assessed by the Statistical Analysis and Development Unit of the SJC according to just three indicators: 1. How many justices the JTS trained; 2. The number of training provided; and 3. Whether it expended its budget. These indicators do not assess the effectiveness of the training, whether justices learn the new material, whether they retain it later, how well they are able to operationalize new knowledge in the courtroom, or whether the courses offered address justices’ current needs. The training plan and individual courses are designed annually by the JTS’s Academic Directorate between November and December. The academic plan is submitted to the Judicial Council, who approves it the following year. To determine the training needs of the judiciary, the Academic Directorate sends an e-mail to every judge through the Sectional Councils of the Judiciary; the responses form the basis of the training plan.

Scope of Assessment

ABA ROLI will perform a detailed baseline assessment that will examine:

  1. JTS’s organizational and operational infrastructure and recommend a strategy to assist the JTS to correct identified areas for improvement, including elements such as:
    1. Organizational structure and staffing for training (e.g., how many instructors are needed? What training expertise should they bring in to the institution? What would be the role of embedded advisors?);
    2. Organizational structure for administrative functions such as planning; training evaluation; budgeting and financial management; and management of training supplies, materials, and equipment;
    3. Review organizational budget vis-a-vis requirements.
  2. JTS’s curricula for judges and judicial staff, including:
    1. Induction (curso concurso), initial (curso de formación), and specialized courses;
    2. Approach to instructional design;
    3. Training methods;
    4. Individual courses;
    5. Skills and availability of the instructors;
    6. Training materials;
    7. JTS’s resources;
    8. Ability to reach rural municipalities, including in the five CEOs and Buenaventura.
  3. Unmet need for job aids and training specific to digital evidence, organized crime, drug trafficking, corruption, and money laundering, among other crimes.
  4. Current state of training on ethics for judicial actors.
  5. Strategies to integrate Kirkpatrick-model training evaluations (Level 2 and Level 3) to measure and evaluate the effectiveness of its training.
  6. Necessary training equipment for JTS.

ABA ROLI will conduct the assessment through desk research and a two-week field assessment in Colombia. The assessment will be coordinated by a member of ABA ROLI’s headquarters-based Research, Evaluation, and Learning staff. The assessment team will virtually convene with ABA ROLI staff to develop a mission agenda prior to departing for the field.

The assessment will use a combination of desk research, site visits, key informant interviews, focus group discussions (FGDs), and surveys/questionnaires to gather information for the assessment. Desk research will be carried out by ABA ROLI personnel in advance of the field assessment and research summaries will be provided to the assessment team. While in the field, the assessment team will meet with key stakeholders and visit key institutions around the country.

[1] The number of incoming cases in Colombia’s Judiciary was 2,6 million in 2016. Judicial Branch (2017).

About the Organization

ABA ROLI is a non-profit organization that implements legal reform programs in roughly 50 countries around the world. ABA ROLI has nearly 500 professional staff work­ing abroad and in its Washington, D.C. office. ABA ROLI’s host country partners include judges, lawyers, bar associations, law schools, court administrators, legislatures, ministries of justice and a wide array of civil society organi­zations, including human rights groups.

For more information about what we do at ABA ROLI please visit: https://www.americanbar.org/advocacy/rule_of_law/about.html

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