Senior Group Village Headman Namila and Group Village Headman Chiphazi under Chief Mulilima in Chikhwawa said primary justice project has helped to reduce cases at both magistrate’s court and police in the districts.
Namila said magistrate’s court and police used to have many cases to handle but after Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) Lilongwe Diocese with funding from DfID introduced the project many disputes are being resolved at community level.
“There are no enmities among the community members because village tribunals are able to resolve minors’ cases amicably. Common cases which are being handled are family issues and theft of livestock,” he said.
Chiphazi added that he could have loved if chiefs were equipped with more knowledge and skills to be able to handle minor crimes through engaging the police and court personnel to enlighten them on the country’s constitution.
“I would like to urge all community members to have trust in their chiefs by lodging all their minor cases to be resolved at community level at the same time strengthening their relationships with their fellow villagers,” he said.
CCJP Diocesan Secretary for Chikhwawa, Lewis Msiyadungu said the aim of primary justice initiative is to ensure that people have cheap and easy access to justice at local level to promote security, peace and unity in their respective communities.
“Through the project village tribunals have been trained to have efficient and effective skills in case handling to protect children and women rights in villages without involving formal justice system,”
He said these tribunals are helping the poor rural masses who cannot afford to hire lawyers to access justice which is much expensive.
“CCJP will train over 900 members of village tribunals to understand issues of land and property grabbling which are on increase at community levels. So far chiefs are happy because the project has
restored referral system of cases to be handled by them and the courts are no longer over flooded with minor cases,” he said.
In Chikhwawa the project is in three traditional authorities namely; Kasisi, Maseya, Katunga, Ndakwera and Paramount Chief Lundu.