Access to Justice Programme was focusing on reinforcing and developing the services that CHREAA through Paralegal Advisory Service provides for the juveniles, i.e.:
1 At police: screening of juveniles to promote diversion, assistance at police interview to protect the rights of the child, tracing of parents and guardians, sensitisation of police officers in the stations on juvenile justice principles
2 At court: screening of juveniles in conflict with the law, legal education, advice and assistance to all juveniles (both offenders and victims)
3 At prison: screening of juveniles detained in prison, to document their cases and refer them to the appropriate services; legal education, advice and assistance, tracing of parents and guardians
4 Linking up with community based organisations/groups to facilitate the tracing of parents and guardians as well as to explain and promote
juvenile justice principles, norms and standards
- the reintegration of children back to society.
VOTER AND CIVIC EDUCATION
CHREAA was accredited by Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to conduct voter and civic education during the 2008 general elections in 28 Prisons in Malawi. The project goal was to ensure that prisoners had access to electoral information in order for them to make informed and independent decisions during elections.
CHREAA achieved this by mobilising and conducting awareness campaigns to all eligible prisoners to access information on electoral process, to sensitise prisoners on voting process and encourage them to vote. The Project was funded by different donors through United Nations Development Program (UNDP)
INCREASING DIALOGUE AND PARTICIPATION IN GOVERNANCE
This project was designed on assumption that majority of Malawians do not have access to formal justice sector. The formal sector is sometime unnecessarily bureaucratic and does not serve the interest the clients. The project was aimed at improving people’s access to justice by enabling the poor and vulnerable people resolve their disputes in a peaceful, effective and cost effective manner. The project was funded by Malawi Human Rights Consultative Committee through Norad Basket Fund.
CONFLICT MANAGEMENT DURING ELECTION
The project was to assist Malawians to improve culture of tolerance and living together in harmony during and after the elections. The project was funded by GTZ-Forum for Peace.
PARALEGAL ADVISORY SERVICE
Provision of paralegal services has been CHREAA’s major business since May 2000. CHREAA participates in a DFID-funded program called Paralegal Advisory Service (PAS) in which the organization operates in 7 prisons of the southern region of Malawi. The goal of the project is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the criminal justice system in Malawi, making it responsive to the needs of all users, especially the poor and vulnerable groups.
The CHREAA has been successful in providing appropriate legal advice and assistance to those in prison. The paralegals have developed their services further in the police stations and courts and promote linkages with traditional fora to facilitate the settlement of disputes in line with s 161 Criminal Procedure and Evidence Code.
CHREAA has been offering the following services:
• Holding paralegal clinics in prisons to show how the law works and how prisoners can access it and represent themselves
• Linking up the criminal justice system
• Informing justice policy
The paralegals have been visiting local TAs and observed ADR methods applied in the villages and explore joint ventures with the local court in terms of:
• Raising awareness on the meaning and application of ‘bail’ (namely, by encouraging courts to hear the views of the community in determining whether or not to grant bail; and on the other hand informing community leaders on the meaning of bail and notifying them of the return date so that they can a) ensure the offender abides by any conditions the court may set and b) ensure that the offender appears for trial or on the next return date);
• Referring appropriate cases from the court back to the community (initially in juvenile cases deemed suitable for ‘diversion’);
• Encouraging greater participation by the community in the criminal justice process.
INCREASING DIALOGUE AND PARTICIPATION IN DELIVERY OF JUSTICE
The overall goal of this programme is to work within the communities/villages to increase the villagers’ awareness of basic human rights, to build their capacity to demand their rights, and to develop in them a sense of citizen responsibility to look at the whole process of development as including themselves as essential players.
CHREAA seeks to achieve the following objectives: To create awareness in human rights within the communities, to build capacity within the community, to enable them develop strategies for addressing the rights issues identified, thence make it possible for them to demand services to which they are entitled, to develop a sense of citizen responsibility within the target area in issues regarding development and governance, to generate methods to purposefully reach various vulnerable categories of the community so as to form means of resolving such issues and to enhance conflict resolution through justifiable and legally acceptable principles.