CCJP programme reduces case burden


The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) has said the Primary Justice Programme it is implementing across the country has increased access to informal justice by rural masses.

The programme, which has empowered village courts through capacity building, has also, among others, seen a 20 percent reduction in cases referred to the country’s formal justice institutions such as the police and the conventional courts.

Speaking in an interview on Thursday, CCJP’s Primary Justice Coordinator for the Southern Region Dalitso Mipando said the programme has so far restored the trust people had in chiefs and village tribunals.


“I can confidently say that since institution of the programme, we have seen a decrease in the number of cases being handled by the formal justice system in that minor cases such as petty theft, marital problems including domestic violence are now solved at community level by the village courts leaving the formal justice system to deal with the more serious criminal cases,” Mipando said.

He also said the programme has led to an improved case referral system as it has established good linkages between the country’s case handling institutions.

“As an organisation, we have been training panellists in the village tribunals including chiefs in case handling and record keeping so that they are able to refer other cases to the formal justice system.


“Over time there also has been that awareness in communities as to which cases to report to village tribunals and which ones to report to the courts of law,” Mipando said.

Mipando also said that the commission has so far strengthened the village courts by encouraging women to become panellists.

“This has made it possible for women to start accessing these courts unlike some time back when most of these courts were dominated by men,” he said.

Judiciary spokesperson Mlenga Mvula was not specific on impact of the programme but said it has always been the Judiciary’s vision to see to it that every Malawian accesses formal justice.

“Dependent on availability of financial resources, the judiciary intends to construct and renovate as many court rooms in rural areas as possible to ensure that each and every Malawian accesses justice,” he said.

CCJP instituted the programme with an aim of improving access to justice by poor people through improving the quality and accessibility of primary justice systems.

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