The Access to Justice through Village Mediation and Paralegal Services Project was officially launched on the 22nd May 2018 at Mzuzu Prison Grounds in Mzuzu City.
The project, which is a joint support from the European Union (EU) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is being implemented by the Paralegal Advisory Services Institute (PASI), a local Non- Governmental Organization established to promote access to justice for vulnerable Groups such as children and women.
Speaking during the launch of the programme, the European Union Delegation, Ambassador Marchel Gerrmann said that through the program, the implementing partner, PASI and the Legal Aid Bureau in Malawi will have appropriate skills, materials and space to provide effective justice to poor and vulnerable people in the country.
“Access to justice especially for women, girls and other vulnerable groups like the poor, is at the centre of the objectives of the EU in Malawi, and hence our contribution”, said Gerrmann.
In her remarks, the UN Resident Representative and UNDP Resident Representative, Ms. Maria Jose Torres, said “According to statistics, the legal justice system in Malawi is formal, complex, urban based and time consuming. This is evident through congestion in prisons and police cells, with some on remand for years without being tried, while others in, for very minor cases. The Chilungamo Access to Justice Programme then aims at the provision of paralegal services for Malawians to access fair and speedy justice”.
The National Director for PASI, Mr. Clifford Msiska said that among others, the project has so far trained 1,120 mediators who have successfully mediated 34,000 thousand cases since 2012, and the concept has been accepted by traditional leaders and communities.
Additionally, the project is reducing the work load of Police and courts so that they concentrate on serious issues only.
Other key partners for the project include; The Judiciary, Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Inspectorate of Prisons, Malawi Prison Service, Malawi Police Service, Malawi Human Rights Commission, Legal Aid Bureau, National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) and Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP).