NICE Drills NN Court Users on Right to Access Justice
In a bid to ensure that people know their right to access justice, The National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) is today drilling Court Users Committee in Neno district on that right with funding from the European Union.
The right is enshrined in the constitution of the Republic of Malawi under section 41.
In her opening, First Grade Magistrate Margret Khobili, advised the court users to tread carefully with communities saying abuse of authority like taking tribes, is leading to conflicts in societies, hence a need to provide effective remedy to people in conflict.
"These court users are the first to receive matters arising in the villages, so they must take a role to ensure that each and every person is seen as a person to avoid jeopardizing justice", she said.
Khobili further said that for justice to prevail, issues of sitting on files should be avoided and that every one must be accorded all justice remedies regardless of their social status.
She then asked the committee to spread the message of access to justice in a bid to compliment governments 2063 agenda.
"We need to empower our people and give education to our children so that when they grow up, they will be able to change some of these laws we use today to suit their time and demand more courts close to the people", she added.
Khobili further decried high cost of legal fees, lack of awareness and short cuts as some of the challenges people are facing in accessing justice.
Neno Police Station Officer Blessings Chikwatu, says one challenge they face is poverty of some victims who often change statements to suit the accuser, who often are breadwinners.
"We receive complaints but when we try to pursue the matter, we are frustrated to have a changed version of the whole matter, leaving us with no choice but to close the files, this must be discouraged", narrated the SO.
He further called on people to desist from corruption and asked his men to be polite to complainants in a bid to promote access to justice.
The newly installed Traditional Authority Chekucheku appealed to people to desist from taking laws into their own hands saying this is a crime but they should seek justice via designated courts.
"Courts must be closer to people, so that they do not travel long distances to deliver a suspect. If this is done, I hope mob justice will be a thing of the past", said Inkosi Chekucheku.
Neno Assistant Social Welfare officer Kenneth Masangano asked for coordination between his office and the police in order to ensure timely conclusion of cases.
Meanwhile, the Court Users Committee has asked authorities to provide mobility to the police and build more courts to ease distances people travel to access the sole First Grade Magistrate Court at Neno boma.