In much of the developing
world, people are not safe.

The justice systems that should protect
them from violence, don't. Why?

When a justice system doesn't
work, crime increases.

Find Out More
A justice system includes a country's:
  • Police
  • Prosecutors
  • Judges
  • Social

When a justice system doesn’t work, you’re more likely to become a victim of crime and less likely to receive help when you are a victim.

In Bolivia, tens of thousands of sexual assaults against children occur every year. Yet between 2000 to 2007, the Bolivian criminal justice system convicted fewer than three child sexual assault perpetrators per year.

In India, where millions of poor people are illegally held in forced labor, we can identify fewer than five perpetrators who have done any substantial prison time for this crime between 1998 and 2013.

When the laws aren’t enforced, violent people can abuse, exploit and enslave others without consequence. Violence becomes commonplace

A justice system breaks when it lacks:


When governments have limited law enforcement resources at their disposal, they use them to protect the things they value most – often wealthy areas, landmarks, or business centers. As a result, the poor are exposed the most to crime.

On top of this, police departments often lack the most basic office supplies – paper, folders, functional phones, copiers and computers – let alone forensics evidence kits, DNA testing equipment, and cameras necessary to do their job.


Restraining criminals and gathering evidence to hold them accountable is difficult. In the developed world, there are specific and rigorous police procedures to help justice systems build fair, strong cases against criminals.

In the developing world, police officers are given little training. While officers may receive military-like drill training, there is little advanced instruction in criminal investigation or evidence collection.


When a justice system is broken, police have little incentive to exert great effort. It’s often easiest for them to turn a blind eye, or dismiss victims who wish to file a complaint.

Some officers actually switch sides - working against the people instead of for them. They may expect payment before they’ll do their jobs, or even extort money from those they’re supposed to protect. When there is no accountability for corrupt officials in the system, the good officers who want to uphold the law and serve the community can become marginalized.


In many systems, one of the most crippling problems is a lack of hope. Because systems have been broken for so long, injustice becomes the norm, and people do not believe that change can happen. Government leadership may have little will to fix what is broken in the justice system. Poor people, along with those who advocate for them, look for work-arounds to the system, rather than solutions to the problems in the system.

  • Resources
  • Training
  • Accountability
  • Hope

IJM’s Model: Justice System Transformation

We partner with those working in the local justice system to help victims of violence
We do this in four ways
As we do this, we identify
weaknesses in the justice system
And work together to help
strengthen the system
Helping protect the poor and preventing
violence from happening in the first place
See IJM's groundbreaking model in more detail

Part 1: Rescue Victims

IJM helps victims move through
their broken justice system in
four ways.

  • Working with local police to rescue victims from ongoing violence
  • Working with social workers to restore the survivors to their community
  • Working with local police to restrain criminals
  • Working with public prosecution to represent survivors in court

We first identify children and adults who are victims of violence, like rape, forced labor, or sex trafficking. We then support local law enforcement in rescue operations and ensure that victims are treated with dignity during the operation.


We create individual treatment plans to help meet survivors’ specific needs. We partner with local aftercare homes in cases where long-term shelter is required, ensure the survivor's medical needs are addressed, provide trauma counseling, and support access to school and/or vocational training.


We ensure that criminals cannot continue to harm their victims by supporting police in locating, arresting and charging them with crimes. We provide training and hands-on mentoring for police, judges, prosecutors and other professionals to equip the justice system to gather the proper evidence for use in court.


We help the survivor prepare to share the truth in court, and ensure that public prosecutors have the resources they need for a fair trial that brings the perpetrator to justice. In justice systems where cases tend to move very slowly through the system, we work to avoid any delays in the case and keep it moving forward as quickly as possible even in the face of significant obstacles.

By guiding victims all over the world
through their justice systems, we:

Case Study / Chennai, India

In a large district outside Chennai, most government officials or police officers had never received any targeted training on forced labor slavery, which was rampant in the area. As a result, forced labor was rarely recognized as a crime.

But IJM began reporting specific cases of forced labor slavery to government officials in the district. After partnering with the government on dozens of individual operations and building mutual relationships of trust, leadership within the district invited IJM to provide intensive training to all District Administrative Officials - the government officials responsible for upholding anti-slavery laws - on how to proactively combat forced labor before stepping into their new role. After the training, government officials began initiating their own cases against slaveholders, reducing the need for IJM’s involvement.

Case Study / Cebu, Philippines

Through our initial partnership with authorities in Cebu, IJM discovered specific instances where the system was failing to stop sex traffickers from exploiting and abusing minors.

Despite strong laws on the books, police and prosecutors seemed unable to successfully arrest, charge and convict perpetrators of the crime. But as IJM partnered with local authorities on case after case, the specific breakdowns that caused cases to fail became clear.

Police hadn’t received specialized instruction on how to conduct an effective anti-trafficking operation or gather evidence of trafficking crimes, so even if they attempted to enforce the law, they lacked the evidence they needed to convict offenders.

After rescue operations, child victims, accused traffickers and child abusers were all held in the same room while the investigation was conducted, giving criminals the opportunity to harass and coerce their victims before they talked to police – leaving many too afraid to testify against their abusers.

Even if traffickers were charged, prosecutors often misunderstood the Philippines’ new anti-trafficking law, and would fail to apply key provisions. As a result, traffickers were often mischarged or released on bail, where they could flee or even simply pick back up and reopen their businesses.

Case Study / The Philippines

When IJM began working in the Philippines, cases against traffickers often took more than five years – and could take twice that long. Because convictions were so slow to come, it seemed like traffickers would never be held accountable. Many people did not believe that the justice system could actually stop these criminals.

But the IJM teams in the Philippines have partnered with local prosecutors and courts to prove that the system can actually work, securing the conviction of scores of traffickers and concluding recent cases in as little as seven or eight months.

The teams work to ensure that word spreads about these “proof points,” sharing about the victories with key stakeholders and making sure that media outlets are aware of the cases’ outcomes.

  • Build
  • Uncover
  • Prove

Part 2: Repair Systems

Once we identify problems, we partner with authorities
within the justice system to fix what’s broken.

Together, We Address:


In Mukono County, Uganda, officers often couldn't help widows threatened by violent perpetrators of land theft because they couldn't reach the victims' rural homes, so IJM provided basic equipment to the stations, including a motorcycle to reach crime scenes.

Our Impact

And this prevents crime from happening in the first place.

Instead of violence against the poor being
commonplace, the poor are protected

Today, IJM’s work is helping protect more
than 150 million people from violence.

Be part of helping many more

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