- ACE-AJ Overall Objectives
–To Serve as a platform for peer learning and good practice to enhance good standards and practices;
- Ensure an amplification of local voices in development discourse and African perspectives in global platforms;
- Reinforce the tradition of African Community Justice Institutions;
- Advocate for long-term and sustainable mechanisms and resources, including investments and endowments for community justice institutions in Africa;
- Serve as a reference point for Africans and a point to affirm the identity of African socio-economic justice institutions;
- Cultivate good relations with other civil society formations in Africa and increase networking for effective advocacy around the community justice and complementary justice agenda and the access to justice environment; and
- Conduct pertinent research, capacity building and advocacy on issues of relevance to African networks on community justice and complementary justice institutions.
These objectives permeate all of ACE-AJ’s projects, programmes, and partnerships. It is on the basis of these that ACE-AJ seeks to achieve the institutionalization and strengthening of collaboration amongst paralegals and other Indigenous and homegrown justice institutions as well as with the judiciary in Africa.
- ACE-AJ Mandate
The ACE-AJ was mandated by its Founding Members to do the following:
- Assume a convening role, which allows its members, African judiciaries, Legal profession and other justice sector institutions to renew relationships, share experiences, rekindle the spirit of being involved in a common purpose and, develop transformational collaborations.
- Build strong cross-sector alliances and serve as a linking or bridging agency between different social sectors and role players within the justice sector.
- Lead in showcasing how to create broad alliances and strengthen relationships between and amongst CJI’s, judiciary, legal profession, policy makers, donors, public and private sector and individuals.
- Provide a platform for partnering for social justice and policy advocacy within countries, between countries and across the continent.
- Build strong government partnerships to leverage resources for participatory, holistic and inclusive access to justice.
- Provide ‘thought leadership’, by contributing to the over-arching debates about access to justice regionally and globally. In this respect, ACE-AJ seeks to allow for continual debate on various access to justice themes and come up with new ideas, paradigms and innovative ways of working.
- Catalyze the growth of a new movement of African paralegals/community advice offices committed to inclusive, participatory and holistic approaches to access to justice that leads to sustainable human development.
Engaging the Community Justice discourse from both a policy and programme perspective will -in the medium to long-term – result in an improved policy and operational environment for indigenous Community Justice across Africa. Transformative changes in national policies and practices will- in turn- enhance the ‘voice’ of African Community Justice Institutions continentally and globally.
- Main programmes
ACE-AJ has given itself priorities from 2020-2022 and these constitute the main programmatic areas in the next three (3) years:
- Capacity Building
- On Leadership and management of Community Justice Institutions to Ensure that researchers; academics/Practitioners and individuals interested in Community Justice participate in trainings and policy content development.
- On Networking, advocacy and communication for development to ensure that national Campaigns for Community Justice policy reforms are put in place
- On Ethical standards and good corporate governance in order to facilitate concrete steps towards institutionalizing a code of ethical standards and good corporate governance by developing in a participatory and inclusive manner such model policies and best practices guides/tools.
- On research and report writing; accounting; resource mobilization; use of social media and measuring impact
- Case management design and implementation enabling customization to local context and cultures of knowledge generation and utilization
- Research and Knowledge Generation
- To Document and to create a database of best practices on access to justice and legal empowerment on the African continent and to identify different gaps on Legal empowerment and access to justice on the African continent
- To document the dynamics with regard to the work of community based paralegals, the challenges they face and the nature of the environment they operate.
- Case studies and national opinion poll surveys on the state of indigenous Community Justice and public attitudes
- Conduct a baseline study and opinion poll survey to map out the state of Community Justice in a sample of countries across Africa.
- Conduct curricula and policy audits/ assessments for a set number of countries in order to integrate comprehensive and holistic understanding of CJI and community justice
- Assess countries’ readiness to legislate in favour of indigenous Community Justice (the omissions, commissions and repugnant laws/policies)
- Enter into technical partnerships with universities across Sub-Saharan Africa
- Support faculty members to integrate community based justice learning (CBJL) in the teaching curricula & University Administration to promote research on Community Justice Institution and engagement programmes on their campuses.
- Partner with local think tanks, media, CSOs and International NGOs to roll-out public policy dialogues on CJI and other Indigenous and homegrown justice approaches in Africa
- Advocacy and Communication
- Campaigns for the promotion of the collaboration between the Formal Judiciary System and Community Justice Institutions on the African continent
- Campaigns targeting eminent persons (e.g. Heads of States, Faith Leaders, Human Rights Defenders, Company CEOs, Judges and High Net-worth Individuals to join ACE-AJ Advocacy for Holistic, Inclusive and Participatory Access to justice; contribute to its programmes and processes or endorse it publicly
- Enlist them to engage more in regular giving/CJI activities to strengthen CJI.
- Media institutions; Research institutions; Universities and funding agencies/foundations
- Mobilise them to partner with ACE-AJ in its knowledge generation and capacity development programmes
- Set up space within the ACE-AJ website for audio/video streaming as well as Live Charts; blogs and other creative communication
- Develop short films and infomercials on indigenous Community Justice
- Develop specialized radio and TV programmes on various aspects of popularizing indigenous Community Justice
- Market the different communication platforms and tools through social media such as twitter, XING and Facebook
- Continental campaigns and networking
- To Popularize the African network through “door-to-door” campaigns for the African Centre of Excellence by targeting other regions and Legal Aid networks in other regions on the continent.
- Ensuring that the ACE-AJ is involved in Continental campaigns for access to justice and SDG Goal 16.
- Raise awareness of CSOs, private sector and national media on indigenous Community Justice issues and prospects
- Ensure participation of national Community Justice networks in ACE-AJ activities.
- Establish a polycentric Secretariat and Set up working groups; share roles and responsibilities among partners, associates and members of ACE-AJ
- Support Champions within national, regional and Pan-African parliament to push for ACE-AJ Agenda
- Establish strategic partnership and effective liaison with continental and regional lawyers’ organizations; networks of African celebrities, public personalities, community leaders, opinion-makers, media personalities and leading entrepreneurs to act as ambassadors for ACE-AJ programmes/causes
- Develop projects jointly with national Community Justice forums, other non-state actors; Regional/International CSOs as well as specialized focus organizations (e.g. lawyers, judges, mediators, conflict specialists, disaster management specialists, economists, feminists and youth organizations)
BRIEF PROFILE OF TIMAP FOR JUSTICE
Timap for Justice is a pioneering effort to provide basic legal services and to improve access to justice in Sierra Leone. Timap’s frontline is made up of community-based paralegals who employ mediation, advocacy, education, and community organizing to assist citizens in addressing a wide range of justice problems, including intra-community breaches of rights, as well as justice issues between people and their authorities. Timap’s paralegals straddle the dualist legal system, engaging both customary and formal institutions.
The paralegals are trained, supported and supervised by lawyers. In severe and intractable cases, the lawyers employ litigation and high-level advocacy to address injustices which the paralegals cannot handle on their own. Because litigation or even the threat of litigation carries significant weight in Sierra Leone, our capacity to litigate adds strength to our paralegals’ ongoing work as advocates and mediators.
In an effort to ensure the programme’s accountability to its host communities, we work with Community Oversight Boards (COBs) in the chiefdoms. The boards are made up of community leaders and are charged with monitoring the paralegals’ work and ensuring that the programme is well serving the needs of the chiefdom. Candidates for the COBs are appointed by community members and paramount chiefs and approved by Timap. The boards meet directly with the Timap’s management to provide feedback on paralegal performance.
Timap has been recognized by independent institutions including the World Bank, the International Crisis Group, and the UN Commission on Legal Empowerment for developing a creative, effective methodology for providing justice services in the challenging and complex context of Sierra Leone.
The programme strives to solve clients’ justice problems—thereby demonstrating concretely that justice is possible—and at the same time to cultivate the agency of the communities among which it works. The programme adopts a synthetic orientation towards Sierra Leone’s dualist legal structure, engaging and seeking to improve both formal and customary institutions.