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Welcome To World Voices Uganda(WVU)

What about the Bataka Courts?
World Voices Uganda is piloting the community based Informal Justice Systems codenamed Mwananchi Justice Agenda Project (MAJAP) as a mechanism for enhancing access to justice for the poor in Kibaale district (Kyaterekera and Ruteete).
The project aims at empowering “ Bataka Courts ” literally meaning Ordinary Citizens Courts under the Penal of elders selected by the community members to facilitate the dispensing of justice and resolving conflicts.
These Bataka Courts act as Community Justice Inception Centres and therefore the first line of intervention for provision of justice to the ordinary citizens and by the ordinary citizens themselves.  
Apparently we have 4 Bataka Courts each composed of 7 members of panel of elders. These elders are persons of integrity in the community. The elders were equipped with the basic knowledge of the existing legal framework and process facilitation during Bataka Court sessions.  
The Bataka (Ordinary Citizens-Mwananchi), choose an appropriate time when to hold court sessions to hear cases and administer justice with the guidance of the Panel of elders. There ordinary citizens are therefore the judges and prosecutors- they have the microphone .

   
Why this approach
 The Ordinary Citizens had for long suffered injustice due to the deficiencies in the formal justice system. The ordinary person no longer had a voice, nobody was willing to listen, continued to fall victim of rights abuse despite the existing legal framework for administration of justice.
 The discrepancies include:-

  • Mistrust of the law, fear, and intimidation of the arrangement of existing courts.
  • Lack of understanding – language (Foreign)
  • Unfamiliarity of formal procedures and court atmosphere, low legal literacy
  • Physical and financial inaccessibility (poor people)
  • Legal services are located in urban areas
  • Takes long to process and dispose of cases
  • Escalates the conflicts between the disputing parties
  • Lack  transparency  and accountability is perceived (technical)

What difference with Bataka Courts?

  • There is high degree of public participation (Mwananchi)
  • Make justice accessible to poor and disadvantaged people
  • Provides quick, cheap and culturally relevant remedies
  • They are close to the homes of the people who fall within their jurisdiction.
  • They are free and affordable.
  • The problem is viewed as relating to the whole community as a group
  • The rules of evidence and procedure are flexible

How do they deliver the message to create space and accountability?

  • Community moderated Civic engagement (Elected reps, media, CSOs, Service providers, duty bearers and ordinary citizens)
  • Media (Radio talk shows, live community debate coverage by KKC Radio) , EngaboZabunyoro Troupe- Theatre forum for community awareness through music and drama.
  • Crime Prevention role, integrity  and accountability check  point – Watchdog (Follow up and information gathering)
  • Acting as case points-Referral as justice inception centre (before case handled

What are we proud of?

  • That the approach works when we work with the grain- There is increased interest evidenced by the number of community members who report and also attend Bataka Court sessions.
  • Media involvement
  • Local council courts have accepted the reality-They are instead part of the Bataka
  • Some sections of duty bearers are responsive while others have shied away (Those who a receptive want to clear their names by answering pending questions while those not are shying away from the same-they know the power of the ordinary people)
  • The other justice delivery framework slowly understanding appreciating the approach

 

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