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Task Force Ramadi Tracks Rule of Law

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS080609-07
Release Date: 6/9/2008 11:07:00 AM

By Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Gary Boucher, Task Force Ramadi Public Affairs

CAMP RAMADI, Iraq (NNS) -- A U.S. Navy officer with Task Force Ramadi met with Senior Investigative Judge Badir Latief Ali to discuss the highlights of a computerized system that will allow the Iraqi legal system to better track criminal cases and collect information necessary for future policy decisions on June 4.

Just two months ago, Cmdr. Joseph Limjuco began familiarizing himself with the Iraqi legal system and, in particular, the halls of the Ramadi Judicial Center. The center houses one of only two court systems with the authority to conduct trials on suspected terrorists.

"Our primary concern is stability of the region, which has to do with the performance of law enforcement and those folks that are being detained and released from detention," he said.

Currently every step of the legal process, from arrest to judgment, is recorded in ledger format, using hand-written notes, a system Limjuco describes as slow and cumbersome.

"The investigative judges, courts and Iraqi Police all have their own separate system of tracking cases," he said. "What I've proposed is a unified tracking system that takes all the information from the police, investigative judges and courts so that the information will be readily available."

Limjuco is one of several Task Force Ramadi members supporting the Department of State's embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team (ePRT) 2 Ramadi. The ePRTs assist the local governments in building their capacity to govern more effectively and deliver essential services. He is one of a small group of active and reserve Judge Advocates and civilian lawyers who together comprise the Rule of Law team in Anbar Province.

According to Limjuco, tracking all of the information about accused at various stages in the system is just one part of the challenge.

"The police investigators are a relatively new cadre and still gaining experience," he said. "The biggest challenge right now is training the police in gathering and presenting evidence to the investigating judges. It's a gradual process that will take time to make a measurable difference."

The tracker displays the status of a case, allowing a user to see if it has been investigated, disposed of, appealed or passed to court.

"The benefit of this is that they can generate reports that will allow them to make some policy decisions," Limjuco said. "They will have the ability to see what is working and what is not working."

Limjuco recognizes the challenges the Iraqis must overcome before they can bring the tracking system online. The Judicial Center is currently awaiting installation of a new generator that will provide the offices with a steady supply of electricity, and is in desperate need of computers.

"They haven't had a working generator for several months and we are working towards having one installed sometime in the next several weeks," he said. "This will be an ongoing process and we still need to populate a lot of the data. We are just starting to visit all the local police stations to get information to populate the program."

In addition to the tracking system, Limjuco is working on several projects designed to increase the efficiency of the Iraqi legal system.

"The goal is to ensure the Iraqis have a system of laws which is easily accessible, transparent and predictable. It is their legal system. We try to not interject our notions of fairness and what is just but to provide advice and resources to allow the Iraqi system of justice to flourish," he said.

Limjuco is also aware that he has just a few months to work with a legal system that, for the most part, has not changed much in the past 30 years.

"I look at the clock and wonder how we are going to get so much done in such a short time," he said. "There's a sincere desire here to learn more as technology is introduced. Whether that technology takes the form of IT-based case tracking or state-of-the-art forensic evidence gathering, I think they are ready for this and just have not been afforded the opportunity to use this type of technology."

According to Limjuco, the desire to accomplish so much in a short period of time is driven from an understanding of the long-term benefits of an efficient legal system.

"Security is the starting point of stability," he said. "The end point is people having a belief in the legal system and it's applicability to everyone equally."

Task Force Ramadi is a tailored task force made up of more than 100 military and civilian personnel from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps forward deployed to Camp Ramadi to support ongoing operations in Multi National Force-West's area of operations. The task force deployed from Standing Joint Force Headquarters, U.S. Joint Forces Command, Norfolk, Feb. 16.

For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusnc/.

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