With renovated premises, the National Institute of Justice pursues new approaches to judicial training of future judges and prosecutors

On 15 October 2018 the National Institute of Justice of Moldova (NIJ) inaugurated its renovated premises. So, the institution became more accessible for persons with disabilities. At the same time, future judges and prosecutors shall benefit from better learning conditions. The reconstruction works took place in the framework of the UNDP Project “Support to Justice Sector Reform in Moldova”, financed by the U.S. Government and co-funded by the NIJ.

The reconstruction works started in 2017 and lasted for almost a year. The one-hundred-years-old building required a complete overhaul with reinforcement of the bearing structure. The infrastructure’s improvement, including procurement of furniture and equipment, amounted to 500,000 USD, out of which 270,000 USD were allocated by the U.S Government and 230,000 USD by the NIJ.

“The NIJ was reformed and modernized over the past years, process which would not have been possible without an improved infrastructure. We are grateful to the development partners for their continued support,” noted Diana Scobioala, director of the National Institute of Justice.

Now, the National Institute of Justice – responsible for the initial and continuous training of judges and prosecutors – has multifunctional spaces, that recreate through mock trial exercises the ambience and the spirit of a court room. The spaces were also endowed with audio-visual equipment that allow for the registration of simulations, to be further analyzed by the trainees.

“The continued development and reform of the justice sector in Moldova is a top priority.  The United States has invested millions of dollars in strengthening institutions that are vital to establishing the rule of law in Moldova. An equitable, transparent, and professional justice sector is an essential component of any democracy, and we are proud of our sustained partnership in helping Moldova on its path to European integration,” Charge D’affaires of the U.S. Embassy Martin McDowell stated.

The improved infrastructure supports the NIJ’s endeavor to modernize judicial training. Such exercises as mock trials and court simulations allow the trainees to feel what it means to act as a judge or a prosecutor in judicial proceedings. During the initial training at the NIJ, students learn how to preside in court hearings, present legal arguments before the court, prepare various legal acts (indictments, judgments, etc.).

Also, NIJ increased its accessibility for persons with disabilities, by building access ramps, installing tactile pavement, and accessible toilets.

“In developing the new design, we also used the ‘user safari’ approach – which is a way of understanding how people interact with and experience a service or environment. By directly engaging users of the facility, including people with disabilities, we collected valuable insights that helped shape the new design - taking different users expectations and needs into account. The result that we see today therefore makes the National Institute of Justice an example for other public institutions to follow,” highlighted Stefan Liller, Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP Moldova.

The National Institute of Justice plans to make available a stair lift, to offer access to its second floor.

Over the past three years, the National Institute of Justice was supported by development partners in its efforts to reengineer its training facilities and adopt innovative learning methods.

In the framework of a UNDP project financed by the Government of Denmark, it was developed a computer-based platform that test the applicants for the positions of trainee judge and trainee prosecutor. The platform is operational since 2016.