World Voices Uganda in a bid to promote access to justice in rural areas especially most vulnerable people, have trained actors who will provide informal justice services in communities.
The training dubbed ‘deepening access to justice’, will enable informal Justice actors to have skills to handle minor cases by mutual understanding, mediation, reconciliation, arbitration among others without necessarily going to court or police.
This system will also not involve court fees and fines.
Gard Benda, the Country Director World Voices Uganda says this system helps the local person to access justice without spending too much money for hiring lawyers, transport to and from courts among others.
He says for example, Bunyoro region is served by one High court that sits in Masindi and this makes it hard for rural people to access the services of the formal justice system.
Benda also says this system will also promote peaceful co-existence among the community members
Benda clarified that there are specific roles of the informal justice actors ranging from providing quick, timely, quality and affordable dispute resolution mechanisms within communities they stay in.
Speke Chrisestom, the legal officer World Voices Uganda says the informal justice actors have been equipped with skills on how to identify cases that are within their limits based on community norms and customs.
Speke says this system is recognized by the formal justice system in Uganda.
SP Patrick Opio, the Kagadi district Police Commander says the informal justice actors shall need to exhibit high morals of integrity and personal character in order to be trusted by the communities they will be serving.
Trained Informal Justice Actors and members of the Bataka court applauded World Voices Uganda for ensuring that community members live harmoniously without conflicts by enabling them settle minor community disputes.
They say the skills will help them deliver justice services to communities they live in at a free cost.
“Sometimes village chairmen don’t want us because we solve conflicts that they would be getting from. So we want to be recognized as free service providers in our communities,” Gertrude Tushemerirwe, Informal Justice Actor said
“The training will help me so much. I am a religious leader but have been facing challenges in handling disputes of my church members and also the community I live in,” Rosemary Kemanzi, an Informal Justice Actor added
Under the same system, World Voices Uganda has handled over 42,362 civil cases arising from land disputes, domestic violence, and money lenders among others.
According Local Council Statute 1987, the village (LC I), Parish (LC II) and the Sub-County (LC III) are established as courts (Ministry of Local Government 1987) and every court has jurisdictional powers for the trial and determination of such cases as specified in the first and second schedule of statute No. I. 1988.
In the same program, 50 Informal Justice actors were trained to offer the same service.
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