Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) and Centre for Human Rights Education, Advice and Assistance (CHREAA) were awarded a grant to jointly undertake qualitative research on legal empowerment approaches to address Police abuse of marginalized groups in Malawi.

The project seeks to examine the potential of using legal empowerment approaches to translate grassroots efforts to address police abuse in Malawi into improvements in broader law, policies, and institutional practice. It further examines the possibility of scaling-up legal empowerment approaches, combined with legal organizing and other collective action forms to address impunity for Police abuse. The project provides an avenue for SALC and CHREAA to critically reflect on and engage with local communities to assess the efficacy of the legal empowerment approaches to enhance such approaches and work towards closing the justice gap.

The project has a component of capacity strengthening, which will bring together researchers, research participants and leaders in legal empowerment civil society organizations (CSOs) and representatives from the State institutions that have a mandate on promoting access to justice.

Additionally, the paralegals from the community-based organizations, who have historically worked with SALC and CHREAA, will also be trained in undertaking participatory action research on innovative strategies for promoting rights-based policing.

The emphasis is on using legal empowerment approaches to foster democratic, inclusive, and rights-based approaches to policing as a long-term strategy of strengthening the rule of law. The project will also include advocacy efforts designed to facilitate transformation and strengthen bottom-up actions by marginalized groups in society.

Activities under the project

Meeting with the Inspector General of the Malawi Prison Services—SALC and CHREAA had a meeting with the Inspector General of the Malawi Police Services in Lilongwe to introduce the IDRC research project aimed at enhancing cooperation, trust, and collaboration between local communities and Malawi Police Services (MPS). The Inspector General expressed his interest in the project’s implementation and gave a letter of support for the research in conjunction with MPS at different levels.