The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) of the Archdiocese of Blantyre was founded in Blantyre, Malawi in 1995. It was established in order to contribute to the political, economic and social progress and development of Malawi, by consolidating democracy, promoting human rights and good political and economic governance through increased community participation. In 1994, there was a change in the political focusing on governance. Thus, the Catholic Church of Malawi took the opportunity to found the CCJP. The Church had successfully started organizations of this kind in neighbouring countries of Zimbabwe and Zambia. The CCJP is a faith-based NGO aimed at the promotion of the common good. Its activities target all people without discrimination on the basis of faith/religious, political and ethnic affiliation.
The CCJP was managed and staffed by volunteers for the first two years of its existence. By 1997, enough money had been raised to hire the first paid staff. Currently the organization has 6 paid staff members and over 8,000 trained volunteers in its network. These volunteers include CCJP Animators, Community Based Paralegals, Community Based Educators, CCJP Deanery and Parish Committee members, Gender Awareness Youth Club members, and community action groups. The staff, or secretariat, is comprised of a Archdiocesan Secretary, Finance Officer, Program Manager, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, Administrative Assistant and a Driver. There are also 4 District Paralegal Officers who manage the four paralegal clinics. These are party time staff members.
The CCJP serves the 7 most densely populated administrative districts in Malawi namely: Blantyre, Thyolo, Mulanje, Phalombe, Chiradzulu, Mwanza and Neno.. The organization serves roughly 2.5 million people. Funding for the CCJP is primarily from international organizations and other governments, with a small portion coming from within the country.
(b) Vision and Mission
The Vision and Mission of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace of the Archdiocese of Blantyre is identical to that of the National Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace and that of the neighbouring countries.
A society where all people fully enjoy peace, justice and human rights
To promote justice, peace and human rights for all citizens through, civic education, advocacy, empowerment, capacity building, environmental justice, research and documentation in accordance with the gospel and the social teaching of the Catholic Church .
(c) CCJP’s CORE VALUES
ii. Integrity of creation from conception and stewardship
iii. Love and justice
iv. Integral (holistic) human development
v. Honesty and integrity
vi. The Common good
vii. Liberation and preferential option for the poor
ix. Moral integrity and accountability
(d) Programmes and Services
The CCJP sees that there are a number of major problems in Malawi some of which are; bad governance, corruption, poverty, HIV/AIDS, Gender Inequality and the violation of human rights. Examples of this include property grabbing, domestic violence, gender inequality and unfair labour practices, bad cultural practices. Another example is the inaccessibility of justice structures, such as the courts.
Lack of knowledge among the citizens, high illiteracy, and the breakdown of social security structures within communities are the primary reasons for these development problems.
Also the judicial system in the country is very slow and expensive for the poor who represent the majority of the population. The Malawian society is mostly patriarchal and has for a long time promoted male domination.
The CCJP has responded to these problems by increasing the awareness of its constituents about their rights and responsibilities. CCJP has in the past two years implemented the following: -
(i) Paralegal/Legal Advice – This program has trained over 600 paralegal volunteers in the community. The trained volunteers conduct civic education, informally and formally to community committees. The community committees receive complaints from the community in terms of human rights violations. Through these complaints the volunteers provide legal advice or refer the complaints to relevant institutions such as the police, the courts and other NGOs doing paralegal work in their community.
CCJP has gone a step further to establish Paralegal Clinicswhere complaints received by the community based paralegals are taken to. There four such clinics situated as follows: Phalombe, Chisitu, Thyolo and Zalewa (Lisungwi Parish)-Neno districts. The secretariat also operates as a fifth Paralegal clinic, while attending cases from all the other clinics. There is also one Satellite Paralegal clinic in Mwanza.
(ii) HIV/AIDS Rights Education – This programme trained 225 community volunteers to teach the community about human rights in relation to HIV/AIDS. They teach that everyone is equal whether or not they are HIV positive. They discourage all forms of stigma and discrimination that is often associated with HIV/AIDS patients.
They also talk about positive behaviour change in the prevention of HIV/AIDS and provide referrals for HIV/AIDS patients to relevant health institutions.
(iii) Integrated Justice and Peace – This programme trained 550 volunteers in the basic concepts of human rights, gender, and empowerment. Volunteer training is also conducted on the economic rights of men and women, such as the right to earn money, join trade unions, and own property.
These trained volunteers enter the community and teach people about human and economic rights. They also encourage farmers to form cooperatives in order to increase bargaining power for their produce.
(iv) Advocacy and Lobbying
These are in form of T/shirts, fliers, leaflets and Press Releases/Statements in the print and electronic media. They are also read in churches and communities and are mostly done in the local language while others are in English.
This advocacy is a continuous process and aims at disseminating correct information so that Malawians especially the grassroots are able to make informed choices; politically, economically, socially and culturally. It targets all sectors of the population with emphasis on the rural masses who constitute over 80% of the Malawian population. Furthermore, CCJP strongly advocates for respect of human rights and increased civic participation in decision making processes.
Other projects and programs are:
(v) Conflict Management
(vi) Economic Literacy
(vii) Civic/Voter Education
(viii) Parliamentary Liaison
(ix) Child Labour
(x) Advocacy Against Gender Based Violence
(xi) Gender Awareness Among the Schools.
(xii) Primary Justice
(xiii) Action for Better Service Delivery
(xiv) Research and Human rights Monitoring
Research and Human rights Monitoring is on-going project of the CCJP which utilises various religious and community structures in getting information from the ground. The results of some of the research work are the basis for a number of projects that the Commission has been implementing in the past and at present. Other findings of the research are incorporated into advocacy programmes.
Currently CCJP is implementing two major projects on Parliamentary Liaison Programme and Promotion of Women rights and Gender
Because CCJP acts at the local and national level, it believes in mobilisation and empowerment of volunteers to effect change. Thus, the development theory that CCJP utilises is the “Alternative Development theory”. This theory emphasises participation, with regard for local grassroots groups and social movements. It promotes equality and justice in economic, political and social spheres. For instance, all of the above projects are implemented with the maximum support of the trained volunteers, based at the community level.
(e) Strategic Issues
Partnerships and Networks
The CCJP has formed networks and joined coalitions with other NGOs doing similar work.
CCJP is a member of the Human Rights Consultative Committee, Interfaith HIV/AIDS Network, Malawi Economic Justice Network, Public Affairs Committee, and the Pan-African Civic Educators, MANEPO Network.
As an institution, CCJP has tried to maintain trust and confidence among citizens, as well as transparency and accountability to its donors. The organisation’s legitimacy stems from its religious affiliation. CCJP produces reports depending on donor requirements, along with an annual report, annual evaluation of staff.
Using the well established financial systems, CCJP hires external evaluators (CPA) to produce an annual financial audit. The existence of Board of Directors, promotes accountability to the staff and programs. The Board of Directors meets quarterly and is also provided with a progress report.
CCJP has seven current strategies. These are:
· Delivery of civic education advocacy and awareness building to grassroots citizens.
· Collection of facts through research and results of inquiries relating to Justice and Peace in the country.
· Foster old and form new partnerships with the church, NGOs and donors to build organisational capacity.
· Implement gender policies and programs that promote equal rights of men and women.
· Generate revenue through fundraising events and long-term investments.
· Increase community participation through on-going programs and recognition events.
(f) Membership to Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace
Membership to the CCJP is open to everybody regardless of religious, political or ethic affiliations.
CCJP has three main levels of operations, namely, the Board of Governors, Secretariat (Staff) and community volunteers. The Board is responsible for policy formulation and providing guidance; the secretariat is for the day-to-day operations, including implementation of the programs and projects of the commission. Thirdly, there is a group of volunteers which forms the largest group within the CCJP structures. Aspirants to join CCJP undergo a justice and peace formation course to enable them understand the vision, mission and values of the CCJP.
After the orientation they become registered members of the commission and can aspire for any position within the CCJP structures. Currently, the commission has over 5,000 committed community volunteers and they are responsible for all the community work of the CCJP. The majority of the volunteers are men, followed by women and the youth. They live in their local communities and use their own time in doing justice and peace work. Among the volunteers themselves they choose leaders at district and community levels to form CCJP Committees. The committees are answerable to the CCJP secretariat. This allows information flow from the secretariat down to the grassroots. Currently there are seven district committees working on voluntary and part-time basis.
The volunteers do not form their own separate community groups distinct from the CCJP structures but are free to join other community groups, CBOs and NGOs provided they are able to distinguish the various roles and responsibilities within the community.
These committees are below the other established church and community structures such as the traditional authorities. They remain members of the CCJP as long as they wish, provided they are able to follow the Constitution and Code of Conduct of the Commission and volunteers respectively. They are free to leave the commission anytime however they are supposed to inform other members of their decision of purposes of records and accountability.
(g) Education Qualification and Occupation of Volunteers
The CCJP volunteers have different education backgrounds, however the majority of them are the ones that completed primary education and some have completed secondary education. The secondary school graduates are mostly retires and active civil servants working in various government departments and a bigger percentage of them are primary school teachers. Currently 80% of the volunteers are subsistence farmers; 5% small scale entrepreneurs and the rest are primary school teachers. 90% of the volunteers live in the rural areas.
They are not paid for the work that they do for the CCJP, however sometimes they are given honoraria when they do other very demanding tasks and if funds are available. Other times they are requested to make contributions in cash or kind to assist the CCJP implement some of its activities. Since 1997, CCJP has been recruiting volunteers and most of them are experienced trainers in the following areas: human rights, democracy, rule of law, paralegal conflict transformation, mediation and negotiation and good governance. These are the areas that the CCJP has been implementing programs and projects on. They are supposed to conduct multiplication/replication workshops in the community with the knowledge and skills that they have acquired through the various trainings. They submit quarterly action plans and activity reports to the secretariat.
(h) Job Description
The following are the major tasks of the volunteers in the community
· Conducting community awareness and training
· Coordinating CCJP programs and activities
· Being a link between the CCJP secretariat and the community
· Promoting CCJP image and programs
· Providing advice and counselling to victims of human rights violations
· Initiating community activities and projects on issues of justice and peace
· Carrying out resource mobilisation for community activities
· Compiling narrative reports of their work
· Networking with other CBOs, NGOs.
(i) Strengths and uniqueness of CCJP
CCJP is unique because it uses both multi-faith religious structures and network community structures in its outreach programs. It has a very effective network of Churches, organisations, institutions, NGOs and CBOs and committed well-trained community volunteers in the fields of human rights, rule of law, paralegal, conflict transformation, mediation and negotiation.
This credit surpasses most NGOs, CBOs and other faith-based organisations working in the Archdiocese of Blantyre. In addition to that the CCJP organised structures in relation to program activities (committees at all levels), has won public trust and confidence in its activities, has committed and dedicated staff and board of governors.
All levels within its structures have the spirit of volunteerism and efficient services delivery to the community and finally it has the support of the church hierarchy and its religious structures.
1. PHASE 2-Provision of Paralegal Services in the Archdiocese of Blantyre
Funded by : Misereor- Germany
Duration : Three years (February 2016 to January 2019)
Total Budget : MK 130,000,000.00
Target groups : The most vulnerable groups especially women, children and the youth
Implementation area : All districts in the Archdiocese of Blantyre (Blantyre, Mulanje, Chiradzulu, Thyolo, Mwanza, Neno and Phalombe.
Having successfully implemented a three year project in provision of paralegal services to the vulnerable people in the Archdiocese of Blantyre(1st February, 2013 to 31st January, 2016) , CCJP still observed growing gaps in several areas which needed to be addressed in-order to fully protect rights of the youths, women and girls and other vulnerable groups. For instance, throughout the implementation period of the project we noted an increase in cases being reported in our paralegal clinics.
We have also noted that apart from targeting women and children there are also some men who are equally vulnerable and require assistance. Furthermore, we have noted that the number of our paralegals is far much lower to ably reach out to vulnerable people in all our districts, since our districts are so vast.
Other gaps include the following:
- Increase in human rights violations despite numerous sensitization meetings being conducted by several organizations.
· - Lack of adequate legal representation for the vulnerable victims increase in referred cases from other organizations
· - Ignorance of the law
- Inadequate awareness on people’s rights and responsibilities
- Inaccessibility of courts by many people
- Delay in delivery of justice
- Power imbalance
i. Increase in human rights violations
Although efforts were made in the preceding projects to deal with this problem, it was not possible to eliminate it within a short period of three years since it was deeply rooted. Previous efforts have achieved much in making people aware of their rights. However, despite such awareness and numerous reports of human rights violations the reports are increasing instead of decreasing. There is need to help in bringing perpetrators of human rights violations to book in order to deter would-be offenders.
ii. Lack of adequate legal representation for the vulnerable
Despite efforts by CCJP to offer free legal representation to the vulnerable, there are a lot more people who require such services since it is only CCJP in the whole region within the jurisdiction of Archdiocese of Blantyre which is offering free legal representation. The few organisations which seem to be assisting people with legal advice are situated in cities where some people can afford to hire lawyers.
The number of clients frequenting our clinics who need legal representation are extremely higher than our current capacity can afford. If we are to assist these poor and marginalised people adequately, there is great need to increase the number of clinics and scale up the rate of legal representation. Currently each Paralegal Clinic is catering for three huge densely populated districts, while the clinic at the secretariat is serving the entire Blantyre city and Blantyre rural.
iii. Increase in referred cases from other organizations
Since there are no any other organizations within the Archdiocese of Blantyre which are offering free paralegal services to the vulnerable, there is an increase in referred cases to our paralegal clinics. This shows how people are longing for CCJP paralegal services.
iv. Ignorance of the law
There is need for intensive awareness on the requirements of the law. There is need to popularise the republican constitution and the penal code.
It is imperative that people should be taught the basic requirements of the law and court procedures. This task can ably be handled by competent community based paralegals. Traditional leaders, who are the primary deliverers of justice also need to be conversant on issues of the law and the need to deliver justice without partiality. Knowledge of such documents will empower people to claim for their rights once they are violated. Secondly they will minimise the rate of offences since some offenders commit crimes out of ignorance.
v. In-adequate awareness on people’s rights and duties
Much as awareness on people’s rights is being done by many human rights organisations, not many people are reached out. Most of the few who are reached are not courageous enough to stand and defend their rights whenever they are violated. There is need to intensify awareness of people’s rights and also help in bringing perpetrators of human rights violations to book. Full knowledge of their rights and legal redress if such rights are violated will make people courageous to claim for their rights.
vi. Inaccessibility of courts by many people
Many courts are very far from people. As a result, many people are denied justice as they do not know what to do when their rights have been violated. Hence the need to increase number of community based paralegals who will ease this problem, as they would be giving the legal advice and make referrals of various cases where necessary. They will be reaching the people within their localities as they will be provided with bicycles for easy mobility. Complicated cases will be referred to paralegal clinics where the Paralegal Officers will be able to scrutinize them. Should there be need to meet the clients, the Paralegal Officers will be travelling to meet them.
vii. Structural Denial of appeal to dissatisfied parties
According to the laws of Malawi, dissatisfied parties can apply for appeal within 30 days from the date the lower court pronounced judgment. The court orders however, require that only typed files should be presented to high court for appeal.
Interestingly, this order is in other ways implying that appeals are not allowed because over 95% of our magistrate courts have no computers, printers nor photocopiers. Most of them have no electricity since they are situated in rural areas where electricity is only a nightmare.
This creates a loophole where rich people take advantage to bribe the magistrates so that they should rule in their favour, knowing that appeal will not be successful. This situation requires that most vulnerable clients need legal assistance right at the magistrate courts so that their cases are well articulated with legal facts and relevant evidence other so that their cases are made straight right at the lower court. Hence the need for enough competent paralegals well spread across the rural areas.
viii. Delay in delivery of justice
There are many petty cases in courts which take long to be resolved. Preference is given to high profile cases, thereby denying the marginalised their right to justice. During the implementation of this project there will be need to lobby for speedy delivery of justice. This type of lobbying will work well if done at national level since it is a national problem.
ix. Power imbalance
Power imbalance is another factor which is crippling delivery of justice. Cases which are between poor people and renowned people in society like politicians, traditional leaders and others have shown that they are always in favour of the stronger side. This problem can be easily tackled if we capacitate and increase the number of community based paralegals and through legal representation
Corruption among police officers and traditional leaders is also hindering delivery of justice. In some instances police have blocked cases from going to court after being bribed by the suspects. Marginalized people in villages do not even know how to obtain free police bail.
Corrupt police officers take advantage of such people and charge them exorbitantly in order for them to have their relative released on police bail, yet police bail is free. Most people do not even know basic court procedures.
In local traditional courts i.e. village tribunals, the issue of corruption also features highly. Those who have some money to entice the traditional leader stand a better chance of winning their cases. Furthermore traditional leaders demand a certain sum of money from both the complainant and the defendant before hearing starts. This is some form of denying justice to the poor who cannot afford to pay such money. These issues can be redresses through sensitisation meetings and lobbying for better laws to curb corruption. Again this will require to be taken on board at national level as well.
Through the evaluation and monitoring of the current and previous projects, lessons learnt through the implementation of these projects, a number of issues have cropped up making it imperative for CCJP to redesign the current project as a way of scaling it up at the same time taking on board issues concerning the youths through promotion of Gender Clubs. Thus apart from intensifying the work of paralegals and legal representation, CCJP will actively involve the youths in awareness of their rights as well as connecting them to paralegals through the clinics so that when they have issues concerning violation of their rights they should seek redress from the paralegals.
Reduction of human rights violations among marginalized people, especially women, youths and children.
Overall aim of the project
The overall aim of the project is to enable beneficiaries to access justice through legal counselling and representation.
The main specific objectives of the project are:
i. To ensure that there is improved access to justice by marginalized people especially women and children
ii. To build capacity of traditional leaders to competently deliver justice to their subjects.
iii. To ensure that there is increased awareness raising of people’s human rights including issues of gender
iv. To provide legal representation to most vulnerable people.
v. To ensure that there is increased knowledge on issues of gender, human rights and defence of their rights among the youths.
i. Planning meeting
ii. Stakeholders Briefing meetings
iii. Production of advocacy materials for paralegals and youths
iv. Trainings for paralegals
v. Trainings for youths
vi. Trainings for traditional leaders
vii. Setting up additional 5 Paralegal Clinics
viii. Establishing additional Gender Awareness clubs and strengthening the old clubs
ix. Conducting monthly Community Sensitization meetings on legal issues
x. Legal representation of vulnerable people, especially women and children