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Innovative solutions are entering the justice arena in Uganda Featured

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19
Sep 2017

 

By Nathalie Dijkman

For the second time HiiL has held an Innovating Justice Boostcamp in Kampala, which took place on 7 and 8 September this year. The Boostcamp was part of the selection process for the winners of the Innovating Justice Challenge 2017, a global challenge that seeks to find innovative solutions preventing or resolving the most pressing justice needs of people around the world. 

This year, from over 60 applications that came in from Uganda, 10 were shortlisted by HiiL to take part in the Boostcamp, and 5 of those ended up pitching in front of a jury to stand to win the Challenge. The shortlisted innovations are tackling a variety of justice needs, including gender based violence, land disputes, forced migration and employment issues. 

During the first day of the Boostcamp, the group of innovators took off on a bus early morning to Entebbe to spend a full training day in retreat-setting guided by a group of expert mentors. The programme included learning about Lean Start-up methodology, filling out a Social Business Canvas, designing their first experiments on a Javelin Board and practicing their 4-minute pitch. In the afternoon the teams, recognized by bright ‘Justler’ t-shirts, went off into a small town off Entebbe Road to conduct interviews with local citizens, testing their main assumptions. As one of the innovators said: “We learned a lot from listening to people who are meant to use our service. (…) From all the people we talked to, everyone has had a problem with land. They didn’t know where to go and the question then is whether our service can make a real difference.” 

The next day, on 8 September, the wider public and key stakeholders were invited to the Boostcamp to meet the innovators and exchange ideas on justice innovation. This event was held at Africana Hotel during the Legal Aid Innovations Conference, which was co-organized by BarefootLaw, LASPNET, DGF and HiiL. The morning of the event held speeches by a.o. Chief Justice Katureebe, the Ambassador of the Embassy of the Netherlands and the Chair of the Judiciary ICT Committee Justice Kiryabwire. Up to 300 people came to this inaugural conference to learn about the most innovative justice solutions currently available in Uganda and how to improve justice through technology and citizen-centred solutions. HiiL’s Justice Needs in Uganda report, which was launched in April 2016, was mentioned by all stakeholders as a cornerstone of the evidence currently available on the most pressing justice needs in Uganda. 

The five innovations selected by HiiL which were pitching in front of the jury in the afternoon included: E-Migrate (an easy and safe travel agency for migrants and refugees), Evidence and Methods Lab (smart infographics of complex justice problems to promote accountability), Muslim Centre for Justice e-Law App (a legal sms service for Muslim minorities and users of the Qhuadi court), Land Title Search App (a smartphone land title verification tool) and Weetase (a voice-based mobile app to monitor victims of (forced) migration and trafficking). 

The 5-headed Jury, chaired by Lucy Ladira, the lead Advisor on Criminal Justice at the JLOS Secretariat, concluded during the public Jury Debrief that they were impressed by the pitches and solutions of all teams, although there was definitely a need for them to research their problem further. The Evidence and Methods Lab was announced as winner by HiiL’s alumni (Lawyers4Farmers and Justice2People), and special mentions went out to Weetase and the Muslim Centre for Justice (strongest impact) as well as the Land Title App (best presentation). 

 

This month HiiL is holding similar Boostcamps in Accra (Ghana), Nairobi (Kenya), Johannesburg (South Africa), The Hague (Netherlands) and Kyiv (Ukraine). At each event, innovators are trained and winners are selected by a local jury. All winners of the Boostcamps win 5000 EUR in seed funding and are invited to take part in HiiL’s Accelerator programme. In total, 12 teams are also invited to come to The Hague in December to take part in the Justice Entrepreneurship School and present their innovations in the Peace Palace. 

 

Nathalie Dijkman is the Justice Sector Advisor (East Africa Program Coordinator) at HiiL

 

Published: September 19, 2017

How innovation can lead to better access to justice for the Ugandan people

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27
Apr 2016

 

A young pregnant woman undergoes a caesarean by an unqualified doctor and is now in pain every day, but is afraid to report it to the police. A farmer becomes a victim of land grabbing, and is unable to feed his family, but can't afford transportation to the courthouse. A wife is severely beaten by her drunken husband but does not know where to turn to for help. These are all true stories, and we heard many stories similar to these accounts in the course of researching “Justice Needs in Uganda”. In this research launched on the 14th of April by my organization, HiiL, Innovating Justice, we interviewed more than 6000 people from all corners of the country.  

It turns out that almost nine out of 10 Ugandan citizens needed access to the justice system over the last few years, but their needs remained unmet. Many of those who embarked on a justice journey, either through the informal or formal system, found the processes to be lengthy and unfair, especially when the other party was richer or more powerful. Others struggled to navigate complex systems in the absence of clear information about the appropriate organization or institution to address their specific problems. And still others believe that no matter what they did, nothing would change their situation for the better. The fact is, across the country, millions of Ugandans have to deal with these issues. 

Ensuring Human Rights-Based Access to Justice for Persons with Mental Disabilities

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29
Jan 2016

 

By This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

On December 16, 2015, the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU) organized a strategic planning meeting for CSOs and key JLOS institutions to devise methods to actualize recent judicial pronouncements on rights of persons with mental disabilities in the criminal justice system. The event indicated that while progress had been made through joint efforts, more work lays ahead.  

Through the Constitutional Court ruling in Centre for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) and Iga Daniel vs. the Attorney General (“IGA Daniel v. AG”) and the prior High Court ruling in Bushoborozi Eric vs. Uganda, courts have now outlawed prolonged detention of persons with mental disabilities and/or illness in prisons, without granting of Minister’s Orders and/or the judiciary’s review.

In 2011, CEHURD petitioned the Constitutional Court to repeal degrading laws, practice and usage of language towards persons with mental disabilities in criminal justice system, particularly s. 45(5) and s. 86(2) of the Trial on Indictments Act, Chapter 23, and s. 130 of the Penal Code Act, Chapter 120.  On October 31, 2015, the petition was upheld by the Constitutional Court, with the prayers for relief sought being granted.

IGA Daniel v. AG is a strong step forward for the equality rights of persons with disabilities.  In particular, the Constitutional Court of Uganda at Kampala reviewed the human rights framework applicable in Africa, the Ugandan Constitution and previous Court decisions and then decided as follows at page 22, lines 11-17:

We have found this jurisprudence persuasive, especially as the African Charter is similar to Article 23 of the Constitution.  Both protect the liberty of the individual.  We therefore conclude that the Minister is procedurally and substantively not a competent person to certify the deprivation of liberty of the alleged mentally ill accused person, without first seeking medical advice and without according the affected person a hearing. 

 

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