Jail personnel to enhance paralegal skills with interactive tool
MANILA — Jail personnel engaged or interested in paralegal service may now use, courtesy of the International Committee of the Red Cross, an interactive system to study and improve their knowledge of the legal system.
The ICRC said on Thursday it has assisted the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) in launching an electronic learning platform as part of its jail decongestion initiatives.
The Electronic Paralegal Learning Module (EPLM), an interactive offline learning platform containing basic legal modules and resources, aims to support jail paralegals’ continuing education and give them an electronic resource center for timely interventions to
The EPLM is distributed in Universal Serial Bus (USB) sticks that users can easily plug and play on their computers even without internet connection.
In a statement, the ICRC said the EPLM would 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,” the ICRC quoted BJMP director Serafin Barretto Jr. as saying.
The learning platform ensures paralegals in all BJMP jails will have 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 will provide 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 Central Luzon and Calabarzon regions, involving 22 paralegals. It will be available in all BJMP jails nationwide by next month.
The ICRC, a neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian institution based in Geneva, Switzerland, has been visiting periodically places of detention in the Philippines. The ICRC has been advocating for the improvement of 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 percent as of February 2017. Jail paralegals are essential to the BJMP’s initiatives to ease the congestion of jails in the country. SFM/rga
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