Justice Systems (Formal & Informal)
THE POWER OF ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION AND THE ROLE OF AUTONOMOUS JUSTICE SYSTEMS IN ENHANCING ACCESS TO JUSTICE FOR INDIGENT COMMUNITIES
The constitution recognizes alternative dispute resolutions and the roles of all the stakeholders in dealing with community conflicts. Experiences gained through implementation noted that there were many cases of land disputes that were unnecessarily in court and could have been effectively addressed through ADR, delaying justice for those claiming their rights.
The CSO Network programme to strengthen Alternative Dispute Resolutions (ADR)works at two level: The first is to strengthen knowledge and awareness of organizations and communities on the existing ADR policy and it’s potential for immediate settlement of conflict and the second is strengthening the capacity of different Alternative Justice System (AJS), to provide fair justice according to the constitution within a cultural context. As a readily available and accessible structure, these autonomous justice systems are found right from the village all the way up to the county level, meaning that community concerns can be addressed progressively to their satisfaction, without necessarily having to take the long judicial route. We have worked closely with members of the Luo Council of Elders to address especially land issues relating to succession and inheritance, acted as a referral and link with other duty bearers where there is such need. Their role within the community as an autonomous AJS, can assist in reducing conflicts within the community through their handling of sensitive family disputes.
Our work with the provincial administration is based on two major threads, the first one is to harmonize and standardize process and approaches during the conflict resolutions meetings and the second is on the need to enforcement of outcome. We continue to strengthen the need for documentation as well as promote transparent and open processes during conflict resolutions meeting, that allow especially women to be comfortable enough to speak out without fear or intimidation. Our Access to Justice Platform, brings together collaborating organizations like the Social Justice Centres, Human Rights Defenders and Paralegal, who are working within the county, to support and strengthen collaboration as partners in addressing community needs relating to justice and accountability. Included in this are the Court appointed mediators, who also participate in mediation meetings with families where there is land dispute that requires family approvals for division of land for succession. Our legal clinics provide an opportunity for legal knowledge and education, to communities with close with the Judiciary, who encourage the use of ADR as a viable option to handle land matters, especially because it can resolve these matters expeditiously. During such clinics, we set up mediation and legal advice tables for members with legal challenges and help in mediation and use these public engagements to refer and link them up with other AJS structures to continue to support in addressing their rights. Our partnership with the Social Justice Centres, at the grassroot, assists in follow ups and monitoring to ensure resolution and access to justice for the community.