EQUIPPING COMMUNITY LEADERS WITH LEGAL KNOWLEDGE TO FOSTER ACCESS TO JUSTICE

JINJA, UGANDA- Over one hundred and seventy (170) local leaders from three parishes of Jinja District convened at the district Council Hall to learn about BarefootLaw, and how they can utilise BarefootLaw tools systems to access legal services for their communities. The sensitisation was organized and conducted jointly by the team of lawyers from BarefootLaw (BFL) and grassroot partners.

The sensitisation, held on 16th April 2019 attracted the Jinja Resident District Commissioner, members from the Local Councils (LC) 1 and 2, Nabakyalas, and community development officers from Mafubira, Budondo and Bugembe parishes.

The Local Council court system plays an essential role in the delivery of justice to grassroot communities. Established under the Executive Committees (Judicial Powers) Act.13, they handle light civil matters that arise out of daily activities in their areas of jurisdiction and matters arising out of infringement of bylaws duly made under the Local Government Act. There are three levels of the Committee courts in Uganda- sub-county, parish and village.

A sitting of the Executive Committee court is constituted of not less than five members.

This sensitization introduced the leaders to the various BarefootLaw systems from which they can attain basic knowledge about the law and how to utilize them in assisting to resolve the conflicts and issues in their community courts.

“This training has opened my eyes on how to deal with cases, especially those relating to minors, land and domestic issues. I was particularly interested in the case study relating to children. It taught me that I must have a rehabilitative approach in resolving their issues,” Namatembe Prossy, Nabakyala from one of the villages (Sakabusolo) in Mafubira Sub-County.

Some of these various channels and platforms, from which they can constantly get legal guidance and information include; BarefootLaw’s SMS platform, LawText, voice messaging platform, LawVoice as well its various additional tools designed for rural communities.

The attendees were also provided with uniquely designed notepads with which to take down detailed minutes of Local Council meetings or court hearings to assist with proper record keeping, transparency and accountability during these proceedings.

BarefootLaw will continue to use these sensitizations to support and equip grassroots communities with knowledge of the law so that they can use it to protect themselves, enforce their rights and conduct their day-to-day affairs in accordance with the law.

“From our innovative model, these leaders will act as ‘nodes’ – or peer educators- through whom we at BFL can reach and impact grassroots communities to access justice,” Gerald Abila, Founder and Executive Director, BarefootLaw.

The Chairperson of Namizi East, Ssekitanda Herbert said, “I’m grateful to BarefootLaw for organizing this sensitisation. I wish to have more of these trainings planned, so that I can go back and share this knowledge with my people. We urge you to continue bringing these free legal guidance and information to the village.”

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