‘Chabwalo’ fine scaring community from seeking justice from traditional leaders

Primary Justice project has revealed that ‘Chabwalo’, a fine charged to the offender and given to a village leader who has presided over the case, is preventing less privileged people in Mwanza from accessing justice at a traditional leader’s court.

Primary Justice project is aimed at encouraging local communities to utilize existing informal justice systems when resolving small cases.

Speaking on Monday when he briefed DEC (District Executive Committee) members on phasing out of the project, Project Officer Allan Kazembe said the project planned to have at least 85 percent of traditional court users especially women satisfied with the manner in which traditional leaders handle cases.

“But, according to data available now only 77 percent show satisfaction. Mostly, this is due to the issue of ‘chabwalo’, which is refusing to die among some traditional leader,” he said.

Kazembe said practice of chabwalo is denying vulnerable people such as women, the less privileged and the disabled from accessing primary justice.

He said there is need for stakeholders to come up with mechanisms of standardizing chabwalo saying currently there are no guidelines on chabwalo.

The project Officer however, said the project, through community awareness meetings, has managed to empower communities to claim their rights from justice providers.

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