CATHOLIC COMMISSION FOR JUSTICE AND PEACE 2

(g)     Education Qualification and Occupation of Volunteers

The CCJP volunteers have different education backgrounds, however the majority of them are the ones that completed primary education and some have completed secondary education.  The secondary school graduates are mostly retires and active civil servants working in various government departments and a bigger percentage of them are primary school teachers.  Currently 80% of the volunteers are subsistence farmers; 5% small scale entrepreneurs and the rest are primary school teachers.  90% of the volunteers live in the rural areas.

They are not paid for the work that they do for the CCJP, however sometimes they are given honoraria when they do other very demanding tasks and if funds are available.  Other times they are requested to make contributions in cash or kind to assist the CCJP implement some of its activities.  Since 1997, CCJP has been recruiting volunteers and most of them are experienced trainers in the following areas:  human rights, democracy, rule of law, paralegal conflict transformation, mediation and negotiation and good governance.  These are the areas that the CCJP has been implementing programs and projects on.  They are supposed to conduct multiplication/replication workshops in the community with the knowledge and skills that they have acquired through the various trainings.  They submit quarterly action plans and activity reports to the secretariat.

(h)     Job Description

The following are the major tasks of the volunteers in the community

·        Conducting community awareness and training

·        Coordinating CCJP programs and activities

·        Being a link between the CCJP secretariat and the community

·        Promoting CCJP image and programs

·        Providing advice and counselling to victims of human rights violations

·        Initiating community activities and projects on issues of justice and peace

·        Carrying out resource mobilisation for community activities

·        Compiling narrative reports of their work

·        Networking with other CBOs, NGOs.

 

(i)      Strengths and uniqueness of CCJP

CCJP is unique because it uses both multi-faith religious structures and network community structures in its outreach programs.   It has a very effective network of Churches, organisations, institutions, NGOs and CBOs and committed well-trained community volunteers in the fields of human rights, rule of law, paralegal, conflict transformation, mediation and negotiation.

This credit surpasses most NGOs, CBOs and other faith-based organisations working in the Archdiocese of Blantyre.  In addition to that the CCJP organised structures in relation to program activities (committees at all levels), has won public trust and confidence in its activities, has committed and dedicated staff and board of governors. 

All levels within its structures have the spirit of volunteerism and efficient services delivery to the community and finally it has the support of the church hierarchy and its religious structures.

 

 CURRENT PROJECTS

1.    PHASE 2-Provision of Paralegal Services in the Archdiocese of Blantyre

Funded by                          :         Misereor- Germany

Duration                 :         Three years (February 2016 to January 2019)

Total Budget              :         MK 130,000,000.00

Target groups                      :         The most vulnerable groups especially women, children and the youth

Implementation area              :         All districts in the Archdiocese of Blantyre (Blantyre, Mulanje,  Chiradzulu, Thyolo, Mwanza, Neno and Phalombe.

Background

Having successfully implemented a three year project in provision of paralegal services to the vulnerable people in the Archdiocese of Blantyre(1st February, 2013 to 31st January, 2016) , CCJP still observed growing gaps in several areas which needed to be addressed in-order to fully protect rights of the youths, women and girls and other vulnerable groups. For instance, throughout the implementation period of the project we noted an increase in cases being reported in our paralegal clinics.

We have also noted that apart from targeting women and children there are also some men who are equally vulnerable and require assistance. Furthermore, we have noted that the number of our paralegals is far much lower to ably reach out to vulnerable people in all our districts, since our districts are so vast.

 

Other gaps include the following:

- Increase in human rights violations despite numerous sensitization meetings being conducted by several organizations.

·        - Lack of adequate legal representation for the vulnerable victims increase in referred cases from other organizations

·        - Ignorance of the law

-  Inadequate awareness on people’s rights and responsibilities

- Inaccessibility of courts by many people

- Delay in delivery of justice

- Power imbalance

-  Corruption

i.             Increase in human rights violations

Although efforts were made in the preceding projects to deal with this problem, it was not possible to eliminate it within a short period of three years since it was deeply rooted. Previous efforts have achieved much in making people aware of their rights. However, despite such awareness and numerous reports of human rights violations the reports are increasing instead of decreasing. There is need to help in bringing perpetrators of human rights violations to book in order to deter would-be offenders.

ii.           Lack of adequate legal representation for the vulnerable

Despite efforts by CCJP to offer free legal representation to the vulnerable, there are a lot more people who require such services since it is only CCJP in the whole region within the jurisdiction of Archdiocese of Blantyre which is offering free legal representation. The few organisations which seem to be assisting people with legal advice are situated in cities where some people can afford to hire lawyers.

The number of clients frequenting our clinics who need legal representation are extremely higher than our current capacity can afford. If we are to assist these poor and marginalised people adequately, there is great need to increase the number of clinics and scale up the rate of legal representation. Currently each Paralegal Clinic is catering for three huge densely populated districts, while the clinic at the secretariat is serving the entire Blantyre city and Blantyre rural.

 

iii.          Increase in referred cases from other organizations

Since there are no any other organizations within the Archdiocese of Blantyre which are offering free paralegal services to the vulnerable, there is an increase in referred cases to our paralegal clinics. This shows how people are longing for CCJP paralegal services.

iv.           Ignorance of the law 

There is need for intensive awareness on the requirements of the law. There is need to popularise the republican constitution and the penal code.

It is imperative that people should be taught the basic requirements of the law and court procedures. This task can ably be handled by competent community based paralegals. Traditional leaders, who are the primary deliverers of justice also need to be conversant on issues of the law and the need to deliver justice without partiality. Knowledge of such documents will empower people to claim for their rights once they are violated. Secondly they will minimise the rate of offences since some offenders commit crimes out of ignorance.

v.            In-adequate awareness on people’s rights and duties

Much as awareness on people’s rights is being done by many human rights organisations, not many people are reached out. Most of the few who are reached are not courageous enough to stand and defend their rights whenever they are violated. There is need to intensify awareness of people’s rights and also help in bringing  perpetrators of human rights violations to book. Full knowledge of their rights and legal redress if such rights are violated will make people courageous to claim for their rights.

vi.           Inaccessibility of courts by many people

Many courts are very far from people. As a result, many people are denied justice as they do not know what to do when their rights have been violated. Hence the need to increase number of community based paralegals who will ease this problem, as they would be giving the legal advice and make referrals of various cases where necessary. They will be reaching the people within their localities as they will be provided with bicycles for easy mobility. Complicated cases will be referred to paralegal clinics where the Paralegal Officers will be able to scrutinize them. Should there be need to meet the clients, the Paralegal Officers will be travelling to meet them.

vii.        Structural Denial of appeal to dissatisfied parties

According to the laws of Malawi, dissatisfied parties can apply for appeal within 30 days from the date the lower court pronounced judgment. The court orders however, require that only typed files should be presented to high court for appeal.

Interestingly, this order is in other ways implying that appeals are not allowed because over 95% of our magistrate courts have no computers, printers nor photocopiers. Most of them have no electricity since they are situated in rural areas where electricity is only a nightmare.

This creates a loophole where rich people take advantage to bribe the magistrates so that they should rule in their favour, knowing that appeal will not be successful. This situation requires that most vulnerable clients need legal assistance right at the magistrate courts so that their cases are well articulated with legal facts and relevant evidence other so that their cases are made straight right at the lower court. Hence the need for enough competent paralegals well spread across the rural areas.

 

viii.       Delay in delivery of justice

There are many petty cases in courts which take long to be resolved.  Preference is given to high profile cases, thereby denying the marginalised their right to justice. During the implementation of this project there will be need to lobby for speedy delivery of justice. This type of lobbying will work well if done at national level since it is a national problem.

 

ix.          Power imbalance

Power imbalance is another factor which is crippling delivery of justice. Cases which are between poor people and renowned people in society like politicians, traditional leaders and others have shown that they are always in favour of the stronger side. This problem can be easily tackled if we capacitate and increase the number of community based paralegals and through legal representation

 

x.            Corruption

 Corruption among police officers and traditional leaders is also hindering delivery of justice. In some instances police have blocked cases from going to court after being bribed by the suspects. Marginalized people in villages do not even know how to obtain free police bail. 

 Corrupt police officers take advantage of such people and charge them exorbitantly in order for them to have their relative released on police bail, yet police bail is free. Most people do not even know basic court procedures.

In local traditional courts i.e. village tribunals, the issue of corruption also features highly. Those who have some money to entice the traditional leader stand a better chance of winning their cases. Furthermore traditional leaders demand a certain sum of money from both the complainant and the defendant before hearing starts. This is some form of denying justice to the poor who cannot afford to pay such money. These issues can be redresses through sensitisation meetings and lobbying for better laws to curb corruption. Again this will require to be taken on board at national level as well.

Through the evaluation and monitoring of the current and previous projects, lessons learnt through the implementation of these projects, a number of issues have cropped up making it imperative for CCJP to redesign the current project as a way of scaling it up at the same time taking on board issues concerning the youths through promotion of Gender Clubs. Thus apart from intensifying the work of paralegals and legal representation, CCJP will actively involve the youths in awareness of their rights as well as connecting them to paralegals through the clinics so that when they have issues concerning violation of their rights they should seek redress from the paralegals.

 

Project Goal

Reduction of human rights violations among marginalized people, especially women, youths and children.

 

Overall aim of the project

 The overall aim of the project is to enable beneficiaries to access justice through legal counselling and representation.

 

Specific Objectives

 The main specific objectives of the project are:

i.             To ensure that there is improved access to justice by marginalized people especially women and children

ii.            To build capacity of traditional leaders to competently deliver justice to their subjects.

iii.           To ensure that there is increased awareness raising of people’s human rights including issues of gender

iv.          To provide legal representation to most vulnerable people.

v.            To ensure that there is increased knowledge on issues of gender, human rights and defence of their rights among the youths.

 

Main activities

i.             Planning meeting

ii.            Stakeholders Briefing meetings

iii.           Production of advocacy materials for paralegals and youths

iv.          Trainings for paralegals

v.            Trainings for youths

vi.          Trainings for traditional leaders

vii.         Setting up additional 5 Paralegal Clinics

viii.        Establishing additional Gender Awareness clubs and strengthening the old clubs

ix.          Conducting monthly Community Sensitization meetings on legal issues

x.            Legal representation of vulnerable people, especially women and children