As a subcontractor to Chemonics, DPI is supporting the Promoting Rule of Law in Myanmar (PRLM) activity which is a five-year, $23 million project working to protect human rights and increase access to justice for Myanmar's people. PRLM is building accountability and competency within justice sector institutions, and enhancing legal services and advocacy efforts by the civil society to promote democratic values. By promoting greater respect of legal rights, PRLM supports Myanmar to develop a legal system that is more accessible, credible, and legitimate in the public eye.
PRLM focuses on the following objectives/outcomes:
(1) strengthening the administration of justice,
(2) improving the quality of professional legal education;
(3) strengthening access to justice services; and
(4) mitigating the impacts of trafficking and corruption, and supporting transitional justice.
DPI provided assistance under Objective 3, strengthening access to justice services, by enhancing the legal framework to protect human rights, expanding legal aid services, strengthening paralegal networks, and increasing public legal literacy. This assistance ran in two parallel tracks. The first included improving foundations for access to justice whereby DPI provided strengthened organizational management processes and provided training, technical assistance, and material assistance to the Union Legal Aid Board (ULAB) and the Independent Lawyers Association of Myanmar (ILAM). Despite good progress in helping ULAB in staffing Union-level offices, opening state/regional and local offices, and holding high-level roundtable discussions with other governmental justice actors, as well as assessing their internal capacity and beginning the process of developing a multi-annual strategic plan, the February 2021 coup put a stop to further PRLM engagement with government actors, thus these activities were terminated.
DPI and others on PRLM successfully engaged with ILAM on multiple fronts by completing a Human and Institutional Capacity Development Assessment, a related strategic plan, and beginning a continuing legal education program process. In 2021, lawyer capacity building workshops based upon the USAID Legal Aid Tool Kit were delivered as well.
On a parallel track, DPI was providing assistance for extending non-governmental legal services. DPI was tasked to develop and oversee capacity building and sub-grant programs for ILAM and non-governmental providers of legal and other access to justice services. Through 2020, DPI helped identify and award 11 grants totaling more than $2 million to legal aid grantees through a Request for Applications process. They provided legal aid to criminally accused persons, raised awareness of the Legal Aid Law, developed the capacity of legal professionals, and catalyzed justice sector reform.