paralegals in the decongestion effort
March 30, 2017
MANILA – The Bureau
of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), with the support of the
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), launched an
electronic learning platform as part of its jail decongestion
The Electronic Paralegal
Learning Module (EPLM) is an interactive offline learning platform
containing basic legal modules and resources. It aims to support jail
paralegals’ continuing education and give them an electronic resource
center for timely interventions to detainees. The EPLM is distributed
in USB sticks that users can easily plug and play on their computers
even without internet connection.
The EPLM will benefit more
than 400 BJMP paralegal officers nationwide. This will help them
monitor the cases of detainees undergoing trial, and coordinate with
criminal justice stakeholders such as public attorneys, law
enforcement, court staff and judges, among others.
“We developed this learning
platform based on the challenges faced by our paralegals, which
include lack of training and varying availability of resource
materials in jails. By ensuring that our paralegals have all the
necessary tools and resources, we will be able to capacitate them so
they can help us process the inmates’ cases and decongest our jails,”
said Jail Director Serafin Barretto Jr., BJMP chief.
The learning platform
ensures paralegals in all BJMP jails access to topics such as criminal
procedure, modes of early release, time allowances, alternative
dispute resolution, rights of the accused, international standards,
and negotiation with justice stakeholders.
In addition, the EPLM
provides paralegals access to national laws, BJMP manuals, paralegal
manuals and examples of written interventions that would help them
facilitate timely and meaningful assistance to detainees.
The EPLM was pilot tested in
15 BJMP jails in Regions 3 and 4-A, involving 22 paralegals. It will
be available in all BJMP jails nationwide in April 2017.
The ICRC, a neutral,
impartial and independent humanitarian organization, has been visiting
places of detention in the Philippines after World War II. It supports
the BJMP in its efforts to improve the conditions of detention and the
treatment of detainees.
For the past 10 years, the
ICRC has been assisting the BJMP in projects aimed at providing relief
to the endemic national jail congestion rate averaging at 555% as of
February 2017. Jail paralegals are essential to the BJMP’s initiatives
to ease the congestion of jails in the country.