Hon. CM Ratuvili with the ICAAD Team
ICAAD has built credibility with the Fijian Judiciary over 5 years through rule of law trainings, publication of reports centered on judicial bias, and direct engagement with both the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Chief Magistrate, and Chief Registrar of the Family Courts. ICAAD recently got confirmation from the Judiciary that 3 directives (authoritative instructions) ICAAD created have been disseminated to all Magistrate judges in the country. The directives will help improve access to justice for women facing violence:
- Judges should not reduce a sentence in gender-based violence (GBV) cases based on the belief that the respondent is a first time offender if there is credible testimony, medical evidence, or police reporting that indicates past evidence of violence, even without a previous conviction.
- Magistrates should not order both parties to attend joint counselling in GBV cases. There is a presumption against pushing for reconciliation in domestic violence civil proceedings and that reconciliation is not applicable in domestic violence criminal proceedings.
- When a women seeks an Interim Domestic Violence Restraining Order, Magistrates should inform both parties separately that they should seek Legal Aid. Further, the Court should make clear that if one party obtains Legal Aid's services first, the other party is not barred from obtaining assistance because Legal Aid can refer conflicting cases out to law firms.
Thanks to Chief Justice Gates, Chief Magistrate Ratuvili, and Scot Fishman of Manatt for their support in this endeavor.
PACIFIC ISLAND REGION: TrackGBV Update
TrackGBV is a program to provide data and analysis on GBV cases and increase transparency, consistency, and accountability of the justice systems in Pacific Island Countries. The legal database for TrackGBV has been completed by our tech and data science partner, Conduent. Besides creating a user-friendly database to conduct legal analysis, the Conduent and ICAAD team have been working to develop machine learning algorithms that can assist in making the analysis more efficient.
Furthermore, the analysis of 5000 GBV cases has begun thanks to pro bono partner law firm Linklaters. As we scale up the project, we anticipate bringing on 3-4 other major law firms from the U.S., U.K., and Australia. Also, with the upcoming publication of our Sentencing Handbook on GBV produced with the assistance of Clifford Chance (London), we will be positioned to disseminate the Handbook to judges and civil society advocates throughout the region and conduct further trainings.