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Primary Justice reduces congestion in police cells

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Regular mob fracas and fights in Chikwawa District have drastically reduced, courtesy of the implementation of a Primary Justice Programme, police in the district has said.

Chikwawa Police spokesperson, who doubles as Community Policing Officer, Mark Munama, also said the same initiative has greatly assisted in curbing congestion in both police and prison cells.

“It is indeed true that previously we experienced acute congestion in our cells as some people were locked up on petty issues that could otherwise be resolved if we had Primary Justice forums in our communities, as we now have,” he said on the sidelines of a forum convened to wind up the initial programme rolled out by Chikwawa Diocese.

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The six-year programme propelled the establishment of the Primary Justice Forums in villages in six traditional authorities in the district.

“This project has really assisted and people know where to go if victimised. For instance, if someone steals a chicken, a cob of maize or whatever, the community primary justice forums would be compelled to resolve the issue other than taking it to police,” Munama said.

He also said the establishment of the primary justice community forums had also helped ease the congestion of cases in magistrates’ courts in the district.

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According to Chikwawa Diocese’ Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace Secretary, Lewis Msiyadungu, the project, among other things, established and trained village tribunals, which included women counselors. A total of 1,840 tribunals were trained in the six years in traditional authorities Kasisi, Mlilima, Katunga, Maseya, Ndakwera and Paramount Chief Lundu.

He said experience has shown that a lot of women, who used to suffer in silence were now able to lodge complaints to the tribunal, courtesy of trainings on rights provided under the project.

“Looking at the percentage of cases won by women, we see that there is an improvement and more women are able to retain land through tribunal courts because of the availability of women in the said courts,” Msiyadungu said.

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