Bringing justice closer to communities: a pilot experience in Guinea-Bissau

July 30, 2021

Women queue to register their children's births at the Mobile Justice vehiicle. Photo: UNDP, 2021

Bringing justice to the last village in Guinea-Bissau is the objective of the first pilot project of the Mobile Justice services. At this initial stage, it only covers the regions of Gabu and Quinara.

This initiative, led by the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, was launched in Gabu, in the Pirada sector, on July 23, 2021.  It aims to make justice services available to communities to increase their capacity to respond to the number of conflicts, cases of unregistered children, and other violations of human rights within the communities.

Prior to this initiative, the government created the Office of Legal Information and Consultation and the Access to Justice Centers, with financial support from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to improve people's access to justice free of charge .

This pilot experience of extending the justice services, makes available to the population an equipped car that takes civil registration officers and technicians from the existing Access to Justice Centers to communities with the highest rates of unregistered children and other kinds of conflicts of different nature.

Photo: UNDP, 2021

The village of Sintcham Botche, located 15 kilometers from the Pirada sector, was the first community to benefit from this service.  In the first two days of the Mobile Justice service being implemented, civil registration officers were able to register 119 children aged between zero and 13 years old.

The technicians from the Access to Justice Center, who are also participating in this pilot experience, assisted 78 users in two days, something they considered unprecedented, as only seven acquired users had previously sought the support of the center since the opening of the House of Justice from Gabu three months ago.

Mamadu Saido Djaló, father of a 10-year-old child, commends UNDP's support and thanks the team for choosing that village for the pilot experience, allowing them to host their children.

“My son is 10 years old and doesn't go to school because he didn't have a birth certificate. Now, after having been registered through the Mobile Justice services,  I will enroll him this year.  In our community, many children do not have a birth certificate because many cannot afford to travel to Pirada to register their child”, laments Mamadu Djalo.

Still in Gabu, the team went to the Sonaco sector, and from there continued the journey to Saucunda village, which is located seven kilometers from Sonaco.

In Saucunda in two days of work, 102 children were registered and 118 users who reported cases of domestic violence, sexual abuse and conflicts related to land tenure were assisted.

According to the head of the village, Braima Camará, birth registration is essential for everyone, because it allows the identification of a person's origin and is a guarantee for the future of the children.

"Registration makes a person the valid citizen of the country where they are born, without which one cannot identify with the country. So it is very important to have a birth certificate first so that one can thenacquire an identity, but later so they can be able to obtrain other relkevant documents such as identity cards and passports”, stressed the head of the village.