Access to Justice through Village Mediation and Paralegal Services Project

Project Overview

The project provides a cost effective, efficient and inclusive approach to increasing access to justice by the poor and vulnerable groups especially women and children. This will be achieved through a two-tier but complementary approach of strengthening provision of paralegal services and mediation services. The project seeks to avail friendly paralegal services in communities, the district courts, police and prisons across the country.

Project Goal

To increase access to justice for the poor and the vulnerable by supporting the provision of a national paralegal aid service at police stations, courts and prisons; village mediation services and the diversion of minor matters out of the criminal justice system.

Main Project Activities

  • Revise the following pieces of legislation: Legal Aid Act, Legal Education and Legal Practitioners Act, Chiefs’ Act, Criminal Procedure and Evidence Code-Plea-bargaining, Penal Code-Vagrancy Laws and Prisons Act.  
  • Clarifying mechanisms for referral of minor cases from the formal to the informal justice sector and the vice versa; strengthening the application of standard performance guidelines established by the Court Users Committee; reviewing and updating the  screening process of cases for referral to the diversion and mediation schemes;  instituting a case management system; and providing training on diversion and referral of cases to Magistrates, Police officers, Prison officers, Paralegals and Traditional Leaders.
  • Providing appropriate basic legal advice and assistance to people awaiting trial in places of detention; assisting in defending the legal and constitutional rights of those in detention, especially women and girls; providing Paralegal Aid Clinics to suspects, accused, victims, witnesses, relatives, guardians; screening of detainees; facilitating the release of unlawfully held people in prisons; and building linkages to rural communities and community-based organisations to disseminate information about the criminal justice system as well as to develop effective referral mechanisms.
  • Support Court Users Committee meetings at community, district and regional levels; support Camp Courts and Prison visits; and facilitate the preparation of status reports on conditions in places of detention.
  • Provide for properly managed and skilled staff capable of monitoring and evaluating project interventions including management of project resources in accordance with UNDP’s rules and regulations.

Status:

Ongoing

Project start date:

December 2017

Estimated end date:

December 2021

Focus area:

  • accelerate structural transformations
  • Project office:

    UNDP in Malawi

    Implementing partner:

    Paralegal Advisory Services

    Funding Support by

    Donor name

  • United Nations Development Pro
  • European Commission
  • Amount contributed

    $3,776,074

    Delivery in previous fiscal year

    2020 $8,804

    2019 $1,142,879

    2018 $1,447,715

    2017 $0

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