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Rural Communities Criminal Justice Awareness Project First Session Report

December 4, 2009

Introduction

International Bridges to Justice (IBJ) www.ibj.org the home organization of JusticeMakers (www.justicemakers.net) awarded the 2008 JusticeMakers Finalist Grant to Robert Kibaya to implement his project in Kikandwa rural communities in Uganda East Africa refered to as Rural Communities Criminal Justice Awareness Project – RCC-JAP.

Robert; International Bridges to Justice 2008 Justice Makers Fellow finalist

Extending Criminal Justice Services to Rural Africa is the key for rule of law and democracy in Africa.

Criminal justice is greatly missing in most of the rural communities in Uganda due to greater distances between criminal justice service providers and the community people. Additionally, lack of information has led to continuous suffering of mostly women and children in the hands of fellow men because they don not know how, where to express and report their criminal cases. Rural women and children in my community face many hardships which include but not limited to rape, harsh treatment, property rights abuse, name it.

Most of their cases are never presented in courts of law for judicial action because they lack information on whom to contact and so, issues are always resolved unprofessionally on a personal ground fully centered with bribery.

This project has created two Community Criminal Justice Monitoring Committees (CCJMCs) at the village level. The committees are equipped with basic criminal justice skills by two experienced visiting lawyers and they play a monitoring, evaluation and sensitization role within the rural communities.

Periodical public dialogues between the community people, local leaders, church leaders, area member of

Parliament, District Police Constable (DPC), District Governor (Local Council 5 Chairman-LC5), Residential

District Commissioner (RDC), Prison chiefs and key figures in criminal justice arena organized to boost up the exercise.

Each committee complies of five people two of which play leadership roles in their respective communities. The CCJMC members are trained in various criminal justice issues and equipped with contact information of key criminal handling departments both at the local and national level. CCJMC members are sent in their respective communities for extension of awareness campaign to even that woman, man and child who cannot read and write.

The established information resource within my Organization’s office in Kikandwa allow village people to access and share information about such institutions which can help them to solve their criminal and human rights issues.

Additionally, a list of nearby legal aid lawyers and their contact details are made available in my office in

Kikandwa village who take on pro bono legal counsel activities so that any accused person can directly get in touch with someone who knows how to defend his/her rights before or after arrest.

The project has established a consultative strategy with the justice sector actors aimed at sensitizing them about the need for information sharing and getting closer to rural community people. The strategy includes establishing a working relationship between the civil society organizations and the judicially with the aim of extending judicial services deep in the communities.

First Session Project developments (June 2009-October 2009)

(1) Sensitizing Government officials first about the usefulness of the Project to avoid being misinterpreted on political ground. This is achieved by inviting some of them to officiate some of the project programs like launching, among others.

Residential District Commissioner officiated the function addressing the public

Community people who attended during the launching of the project

Residential District Commissioner and other governmental officials interacting with the community people

(2) Recruiting community people to act as Community Criminal Justice Monitoring Committee Members – CCJMC. These undergo residential training in basic human rights and criminal justice issues by contracted visiting lawyers.

Visiting lawers passing on the Criminal Justice and Human rights basics during a residential training of the ten CCJMC Members

Ten Community Criminal Justice Monitoring Committee Members during training by the two visiting lawyers

2008 International Bridges to Justice Justice Makers Fellow (Project Director) addressing the ten CCJMC Members during the training

(3) After training, CCJMC are sent to their respective allocated communities to carry out a sensitization role as they monitor any human right abuse and compile a weekly report to be submitted to the contracted visiting lawyers for review and discussion. Reports that need follow-up for action are kept; else they are submitted to the Project Director for endorsement.

CCJMC Members discussing their report findings with visiting lawyers

CCJMC Members discussing their report findings with visiting lawyers

CCJMC Members discussing their report findings with visiting lawyers

(4) The CCJMC Members reach out to community people very deep in villages and those with complicated cases are referred to the project contracted visiting lawyers for free legal services and action.

Over 20 employees of DAMJI tea and sugar cane plantation visited our project office to consult with project visiting lawyers for legal assistance in securing their retirement packadges from their employer. Good news, Case settled successfully.

An old man whose got an accident while on job and his fimer was removed visited our project office to consult with our lawyers for legal assistance in securing compesation from his employers. Case settled successfully

A group of DAMJI tea and sugar cane plantation walking back to their village (about tem miles from our project office) after consulting with project lawyers

A woman with domestic violence issues consulting with my project lawyers. Case settled sucessfully

A woman with domestic violence issue consulting with project visiting lawyers. Case settled successfully

Usually family problems are settled with a mutual understanding and guiedance by visiting lawyers; else issues are usually forwarded for justice in courts of law

An old man consulting with project visiting lawyers about his land problem issues. Case still in court for hearing

(5) Public dialogues aiming at bringing legal and human rights actors down in rural communities for direct interaction with the local people. These create confidence in rural community people and get to know the contact details of those concerns to be approached in time.

A dialogue between the police personels, community, local leaders, children and lawyers

Community people noting down points during A dialogue between the police personels, community, local leaders, children and lawyers

Police officer answering questions raised by community people during A dialogue between the police personels, community, local leaders, children and lawyers

Police officer answering questions raised by community people during A dialogue between the police personels, community, local leaders, children and lawyers

Police Family Matters Department personel answering questions from community children

Visiting lawyers interacting with community people after Police officer answering questions raised by community people during A dialogue between the police personels, community, local leaders, children and lawyers

(6) Community Resource centre under development to offer free reading materials to rural community people on human rights, criminal justice, among others.

Due to this project, a section in our community resource centre has been established to offer free information on criminal justice and human rights issues to community and law enforcement officers

Due to this project, a section in our community resource centre has been established to offer free information on criminal justice and human rights issues to community and law enforcement officers

Criminal Justice and Human rights sensetization messages are always pinned in strategic places around the villages to be accessed by community people

December 4, 2009

Rural Communities Criminal Justice Awareness Project – RCC-JAP First Session Report

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June 8, 2009

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