A STUDY ON THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE LEGAL AND JUSTICE SECTOR REFORM PROGRAMME

1. Introduction

Institutions within the Legal Service and Justice Sector are faced with structural and institutional capacity challenges that have caused inefficiencies and led to low public confidence, limited accessibility, reduced quality of services, and delayed dispensation of justice especially for the vulnerable.  To contribute to resolving these critical challenges facing the Legal Service and Justice Sector in Ghana, the Office of the Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice partnered the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to implement the Legal and Justice Sector Reform Programme in 2014.

The Reform Programme was designed to implement targeted interventions to strengthen the key Legal and Justice institutions in a bid to improve functionality and capacity for quality service delivery.  The overall goal was to have more accessible, fair, responsive, and accountable legal service and justice sector that is structured to provide legal services efficiently and improve access to justice.

The key achievements under the Reform Programme are enhanced collaboration and network built amongst the participating Legal and Justice Sector institutions; the development and publication of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs); training needs assessment and development of training plans; and the publication of a Change Management Strategy.

Consequently, the Research and Statistics Unit of the Office of the Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice undertook a research to assess the effectiveness of the Reform Programme in the sector.  The findings of this study are intended to provide data on how stakeholders across the Legal and Justice Sector institutions perceive the Reform Programme.  This will inform the Ministry and its Development Partners whether or not the reforms are having the desired impact.  This will also enable them to make evidence-based policies and decisions on interventions relevant to the actual needs and experiences of the sector.

2. Methodology

Primary data was collected using structured questionnaires.  The study sample was determined using simple random sampling techniques.  The total sample for the study was 153 stakeholders drawn from a cross section of stakeholders within the Legal and Justice Sector institutions.  The results are presented using means and standard deviations.  The research was undertaken between September and October of 2019.

3. Findings

Respondents perceived the programme as generally effective and further indicated that the reforms have enhanced collaboration and network built amongst Legal and Justice Sector institutions.  Respondents further acquiesced that the quality of project deliverables met their expectations.

Respondents generally perceived the SOPs as generally effective in the sector in the sense that SOPs have enhanced knowledge on best practices in case management and serve as guide for work processes and procedures in the sector.  Further analysis revealed that SOPs led to consistency and transparency in the application of processes and procedures amongst sector institutions.

However, the respondents generally were unsure of the effect of the training needs assessment and training provided in the sector.  This is not surprising considering that the individual components of the training plans are yet to be comprehensively implemented across the institutions.  Similarly, respondents generally were unsure of the effect of the Change Management Strategy.  That is to say the respondents could not indicate whether the Change Management Strategy enabled staff and sector institutions to adopt the reforms in the sector.  This could be attributed to the limited implementation of the Change Management Strategy across the institutions.

4. Conclusion and Recommendation

The results indicate that the Legal and Justice Sector institutions are yet to reap the full benefits of the reform programme, which is a matter of concern that needs to be addressed.  Overall, the findings demonstrate the need to revisit the implementation of the programme.  In view of this, it is recommended that the stakeholders as a matter of fact should revisit the implementation of the programme.  Given the importance of effective legal and justice service delivery for the country, it is critical that the reforms be fully implemented to strengthen institutions in the Legal and Justice Sector and improve access to and the quality of legal service and justice delivery.