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Indonesia hosts conference on public prosecutor training

Jakarta (Indonesia), 26 April 2011
- Parallel to the 7th International Association of Prosecutors Asia Pacific and Middle East Regional Conference and High level Prosecutors Meeting held in Jakarta, Indonesia from 16 to 18 March 2011, the Attorney General's Office of the Republic of Indonesia, the International Association of Prosecutors, the United States Department of Justice/ Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training and UNODC organized a public prosecutors training conference from 16 to 18 March 2011.

The conference programme included panels on securing appropriate resources, distance learning, peer trainers, interactive learning, introducing new legislation, partnership with judicial or police training centers, regional training efforts, international partners, trial advocacy, internships, curriculum and lesson planning development and a field trip to the training center of the Indonesian Attorney General's Office in south Jakarta.

The response from participants of the conference was unanimously appreciative of the opportunity to share their experiences with fellow prosecutor services from around the world. Participants expressed that they saw the workshop as valuable source of information and best practice to apply to their own work. For some, it was the first international conference specially designed for prosecutors that they had ever attended in their careers, remarking that there needed to be more of this kind if the quality of prosecutor services is to be enhanced on a global scale.

UNODC believes that strong professional training centers are a driver for reform and development within the prosecution service. Training centers set the tone for new prosecutors, introduce legal changes to prosecutors, and sharpen prosecutorial skills. However, training centers around the world do not receive adequate funding and other forms of institutional support. Often, their curriculum and teaching methods are out of date and not relevant for the needs of professional prosecutors. Many centers rely upon academic lectures by retired prosecutors rather than interactive practical training led by respected peers. Some prosecution services even lack their own training facility. A recent survey of public prosecution training centers sent to International Association of Prosecutor's members indicate that there is great variation in the role and resources available to training centers.

Five participants were briefly interviewed during the conference for an insight into prosecutors' services in their country, and where weaknesses lie. Of the five interviewees, all except Pakistan gave positive reviews of the prosecutor training services in their country. Pakistan presently lacks a designated prosecutor training institution, and therefore outlined a number of issues associated with this in the interview. For the remaining four participants, a national institution for training legal professions exists in their respective counties.

For China, Albania and Indonesia, attendance to the institution is legally required to become a prosecutor. In the USA, attendance is not a legal prerequisite for the individual for employment, but training is a legal requirement placed upon the service that the individual works for. Therefore, once in employment, the individual will attend ongoing training of some nature. In Pakistan, the concept of specialised prosecutors in court is a new concept, therefore, training is not yet available, nor is it particularly encouraged as there is a degree of resentment by the majority of legal personnel, who wish to return to the old model of having the police act as prosecutors in addition to their own roles in court cases. Prosecutors in Pakistan face a difficult challenge of establishing themselves as credible and necessary legal personnel for the nation's legal infrastructure.

The interviewees noted that continuing education is mandatory of existing prosecutors, and fellow legal personnel. Although a number expressed that the resources and training institutions available to conduct continuing education was limited. China PDR appeared to be an exception to this, having a dedicated college for prosecutors, and an addition of 17 branches of the college available around the country where training is promoted and available even at grass-roots level.

On the final day of the Conference, four concrete recommendations and findings were developed through a joint discussion, based upon inputs from the different delegations:

  1. Training providers should explore ways to incorporate and share distance learning, mentoring, peer training, new methodologies, and internships.
  2. Prosecution services must provide appropriate support to training providers as a basis to build a professional and ethical prosecution service.
  3. Training providers should consider ways to provide exchanges and regional training on transnational crimes to broaden their prosecutors' experiences.
  4. Training providers should establish a network of prosecutor training providers to promote exchange of ideas and experiences.