Continental Conference on Collaboration between the Judiciary and Community Justice Institutions on Access to Justice, in Kigali on 22-24 August 2017.
The main theme for the conference is derived from a vision for a three-fold transformation of Practice, Policy and Perceptions in Judiciary and Community Justice Institutions (CJI) collaboration. The Conference influenced attitudes and behaviours across the entire value-chain of justice delivery from the community to the highest courts of the land in order to foster greater synergy, mutual support, and collaboration. It focused on existing practices (especially good practices) and policies; lessons learnt across different legal jurisdictions (e.g. Anglophone, Lusophone, Francophone and Arabophone); gaps; opportunities; solutions and innovations. The conference featured key stakeholders including; CJI practitioners, judges, policy makers, representatives of lawyers, police, development partners, academics, traditional or faith leaders and others.
Our primary goals were to promote the collaboration between the Judiciary and home-grown/Community Justice, to formalize this collaboration and to appeal for a formal recognition of the work of paralegals, home-grown/community Justice Institutions on the African continent. There were many topics covered during the conference and the panellists amongst which, Chief justices, Ministers, deputy ministers, academics, United Nation representatives, Representatives of Civil Society Organisations, Representatives of diplomatic missions, did an outstanding job of sharing their expertise with the participants.
The conference was the platform for the launch of the African Centre of Excellence for Access to Justice (ACE-AJ), a Centre that will be a place that not only serves as a memorial to the struggles for social justice of Africa’s people, but will also serve to carry forward the traditions of African and international practices and thought-leadership in how best to craft a vision of a society that upholds human dignity and affords justice beyond the narrow legal conceptions to the most vulnerable sectors of society.
On the last day of the conference, the participants passed the resolutions that we call: “The Kigali Resolutions”. These resolutions will be adopted pending these amendments and signatures of different stakeholders.
The countries participating in the Continental Kigali Conference included:
– Democratic Republic of Congo
– Sierra Leone
– South Africa
– South Sudan
– United Kingdom
– United States of America
The Conference aims were to achieve the following:
1. Define the context, content and process of collaboration between Community Justice Institutions and the Judiciary.
2. Understand the policy and legal issues as well as structural and operational factors, e.g. the need to align Community Justice Institutions with constitutional and international human rights obligations (e.g. gender equality, rights of the child, etc.); due process requirements and administrative justice concerns regarding persons with an interest in a matter not being judges in their own cause, impartiality, etc.
3. Reflect on the practice, achievements and contradictions of Community Justice Institutions and judiciary collaboration (what are the gaps, achievements and setbacks).
4. Analyse the different forms and the emerging best practices and knowledge (e.g. paralegals, traditional and/or customary courts, etc.)
5. Define a knowledge management architecture and performance management system for the collaboration between the Judiciary and Community Justice Institutions.
6. Identify requisite capacity development required for Judiciary and other justice delivery mechanisms as well as Community Justice Institution activists.
7. Launch of the African Centre of Excellence for Access to Justice.