About Vihiga Community Justice Centre
Vihiga Community Justice centre was launched on 29th May 2021 after intensive training of the paralegals from the 23rd to 29th of May 2021 at at Roddys Green Lounge Hotel
The training saw participants introduced to Paralegalism. This included being trained on definition, role, qualities and essential skills of a paralegal. Participants were also taken through Gender Law and SGBV, Land Law, Labor Law and Succession matters, Criminal Law and Procedures, principles governing Criminal Law, Human Rights and its Principles as well as Mental Health. Following the successful training, participants graduated on Saturday 29th May, 2021.
Development Innovations Group, under the Urbis Project.
Brief background of the Organization
Vihiga Community Justice Centre also known as Ebusiratsi Welfare and Development Association (EWADA) is a Community based organization located in Vihiga County. The organization brings together committed individuals from various civil society organizations’, with various skills and experiences from diverse backgrounds.
It was registered as Community Based Organization under section 10 of the societies act at the registrar of societies attorney general’s office on 8th July 2009.
The organization was formed as a result of the need to have well informed and organized citizens and for equipping citizens with skills to effectively participate and engage in Human rights issues, governance and access to justice.
The organization has participated in many key activities and has been a key actor in promoting civic knowledge and enhancing good governance. It has a secretariat which runs the day to day activities which reports to the Management Board. The organization has established has extensive networks Vihiga county.
A Strengthened institutional and human resource capacity for effective Human Rights, access to justice and good governance change management in communities;
To empower communities to address Human Rights Violations, access to justice through capacity building and provision of community based programmes and interventions.
- Capacity building in paralegal.
- Training in Advocacy.
- Capacity building in Organization Development and Systems Strengthening.
- Outreach to communities-community forums on land issues-Title deed acquisition, property rights and inheritance including succession.
The programmes aim to stimulate social participation, increasing involvement and commitment of citizen and promoting of appreciation of obligation and rights of citizenship while at the same time creating a climate within which mutual respect, tolerance, negotiation can flourish.
The organization has 5 programmes namely:-
- ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION MECHANISM-ADR
This programme arises out of Article 159 (2) ( c ) of the constitution of Kenya 2010. As a society we tend to leave disputes unresolved until they reach major proportions.
ADR is the term given to describe a dispute resolution process that does not involve a court. The courts resolve disputes using the process of adjudication.
ADR offers an alternative to the win/lose outcome. Parties who resolve their dispute using an ADR process commonly experience a stronger sense of justice regarding the result and their agreement is likely to endure as a consequence.
Therefore this programme will work with diverse stakeholders including the justice system (courts), enforcement agencies including the police, communities and elders. The programme will accept referrals from communities and other relevant institutions.
- HUMAN RIGHTS AND ACCESS TO JUSTICE-legal aid programme
According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, every individual should strive to promote respect and freedom for each other. The programme will use approaches to identifying human rights violations, information-gathering, interviewing, monitoring of human rights violations and abuses, monitoring human rights protection activities, monitoring economic rights, preparation of reports, and interventions.
The programme also seeks to improve access to justice for resource-poor individuals, and victims of Human Rights violations in numerous ways, including partnering with civil legal service providers, providing free access to legal information, helping those with limited English proficiency, assisting children in child violation cases, and testing alternative forms of conflict resolution.
The programme identifies Human Rights as the core issues of a human being and therefore endoses the importance of developing and understanding them. It underscores the importance of upholding human rights and the responsibilities that come with it. It builds on the current efforts aimed at creating awareness on general human rights, women and child rights. The programme will also put in place Community Human rights monitoring and reporting to strengthen adherence of Human rights and enable human rights violations to be exposed.
- CHILD RIGHTS, CHILD PROTECTION & CARE
There are several hidden trends of abuse and violence against children in Kenya and most of these cases go unreported. In addition, inadequate protection arising from uncoordinated procedures of handling cases of child abuse is noticeable. Many cases are still being settled at the community and in most cases the child does not receive justice and at the same time there is lack of good will by parents to pursue justice for their children.
There is also a challenge of inadequate facilities for referrals especially a rescue centre which is a priority in strengthening the community based child protection system.
The programme seeks to address the rampant abuse in the community and ultimately mitigate the rising cases.
There is need to put in place an effective and functional child friendly child protection systems in place in the communities. The programme targets the children and relevant stakeholders in the move towards strengthening community based child protection system. Child protection involves both non and non-formal child protection mechanisms hence the need for coordination of efforts by all actors to ensure an effective child protection system.
The programme will put in place measures to:-
- Institute surveillance in the community and ensure safety of the children.
- Monitoring cases to ensure that justice is arrived at.
- Creating awareness at community level.
- Put in place measures for rescuing children in vulnerable situations.
- Avail psycho-social support services.
- GENDER BASED VIOLENCE
Gender Based Violence occurs at an individual level, in a relationship and at house level, at community level and in the society. It perpetuates the stereotyping of gender roles that denies human dignity of the individual and hinders human development, affecting human health, self-esteem and livelihoods.
Although boys and men are increasingly affected by this form of violence, GBV is pervasive in the lives of girls and women at every stage of their life cycle.
Many women are yet to realize the enjoyment of rights especially in the private sphere. It has been shown that women are most often violated by their male relations mainly as a result of the skewed power equation at the domestic level. Study reveals that women are discriminated against, as they are not economically empowered to adequately meet their own basic needs.
There are major challenges to adequately address GBV include focusing on economic constraints, cultural values and laxity of the formal justice system. In addition, poverty and low levels of literacy and education amongst women, is a formidable challenge to their capacity to engage institutions that can effectively handle violations.
The programme will embrace new intervention strategies that will move towards dialogue to strengthen the family institution. Longer term measures will include school-level education about gender equality, programmes that address the connection between violence and masculinity. There will be need to involve and work with men for addressing violence against women and for promoting gender equality.
In view of this issues there will be need to have a paralegal training to assist the Board, Staff, Volunteers and communities to have basic knowledge of law relating to identified community issues. The objectives of the paralegal training would be to:-
- Establish and build a network and pool of paralegal resource persons for effective access to justice.
- Assist to provide other legal solutions to contribute to conflict management.
- CAPACITY BUILDING, ADVOCACY AND OUTREACH
There is need to strengthen community level programmes, initiatives and activities. Proper planning and coordination, including strong community involvement are essential prerequisite to establish and operate strong programmes. Strong community programmes will help communities to be empowered.
The community justice centre is reviewing the above key conditions and elements for adequate coordination as well as participation of the important stakeholder groups at community level.
The programme looks at capacity gaps, strategic issues and concerns of the communities. It will involve capacity building sessions, advocacy campaigns and community outreaches to inform and create awareness.
It will assist in programme development at community level with the need to conceptualize, develop and provide strategic vision and direction. In collaboration with stakeholders, there will be need to provide input for a wider dissemination of results and outcomes including identifying opportunities for community policy analysis and knowledge generation aimed at raising community interest and participation. Local consultation forums-GUMZO FORUMS will offer opportunities for promoting regular communication among stakeholders the voice and opportunity to shape policies and programmes.
Community action committee will offer a powerful way to promote communication. This will provide a platform for information sharing and collaboration.
Appropriate training programmes will be initiated. It will also involve mobile schools-workshops that will facilitate the learning process while encouraging community participation.
Major activitie will involve:-
- Holding training workshops/sessions
- Community outreach sessions
- Attending stakeholder meetings
There is need for effective land laws and policy reforms. Some of the issues will include:-
- The duty of the government to protect right to property.
- Protection of matrimonial property
- Succession and acquisition of title deeds
The success of these activities will largely depend on the cadre of community resource persons trained in specific areas. The community justice centre is carrying out a training needs assessment to develop a strategy that will address short-term and long term capacity needs.
Governance refers to the management of public affairs. Good governance provides effective service delivery that is free of abuse and corruption, gives priority to human rights based approaches and supports the rule of law. Good governance implies respect for human rights and safeguard of the same. It requires that the rule of law become of paramount importance. It enhances citizens’ sense of nationhood and furthers the spirit of constitutionalism.
The enjoyment of human rights by the vast majority become real if the mechanisms that have been put in place are enabling.
Good governance requires that the citizen be a part of the decision making process and that a mechanism be in place that will allow all groups to communicate their requests and needs. However there are challenges to Good Governance identified, and this include:-
- Accountability, Integrity, Corruption, Maladministration
The programme will identify and work with partners to address governance issues identified
- PEACE & CONFLICT MANAGEMENT
Conflict exists at all levels of society in all sorts of situations. In resolving issues, it is important to have a systematic understanding of the dissatisfaction of the communities and of grassroots-level issues which feed the dynamics on a higher level. Violence when experienced in social settings can manifest itself in many forms, dynamics and levels. The task of unearthing its root causes is rarely a straight forward affair.
While a conflict starts because of an issue of disagreement, there are usually background influences that fuel the conflict. The most important is power. Others include culture, identity and rights.
This programme is aimed at deepening the understanding of communities and stakeholders on conflict dynamics and management while also identifying existing capacities and tools for conflict management in communities.
Causes of violence can include poverty, unemployment especially among the youth, a history of visionless leadership, and visible inequities in distribution of resources, marginalization.
Interventions will include:-
- Creating a culture of peaceful co-existence by developing strategies of addressing symbolic violence.
- Conduct civic education
- Acquire more skills in conflict resolution-non-violent methods
Other strategies will include:-
- RESTORATIVE JUSTICE
- COMMUNITY MEDIATION
- VICTIM-OFFENDER RECONCILIATION
- COMMUNITY SERVICE RESTITUTION
- GUIDED FAMILY INTERVENTION
Ebusiratsi Welfare And Development Association (EWADA)
P.O Box 75 – 50314, Emuhaya
E-Mail Address: Alfredasitiba313@Gmail.Com
Phone: 0721 214 890