Promoting Inclusive Access to Justice: Transforming Communities in Yemen
October 29, 2023
Access to justice is at the heart of sustainable peace and development. Supported by the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is working to support access to justice and safety for the people of Aden, Yemen. Through the Promoting Inclusive Access to Justice in Yemen Project (PIAJY), UNDP aims to not only enhance community safety but also increase awareness of rights and improve the effectiveness of the justice system.
Partnering with local authorities and civil society organization Afaq Shababia, the PIAJY project has already made significant strides in promoting community safety in Aden Governorate. One of their key achievements has been the establishment of six Community Mediation Committees (CMCs) in various districts of Aden. These committees consist of dedicated individuals who have been trained in restorative justice and safeguarding measures, with a particular focus on gender.
The primary objective of the CMCs is to reduce the burden on detention centers and foster peaceful resolution for non-criminal societal issues. Over several months, the committees have utilized their skills and resources to collaborate with formal authorities, civil society organizations, and the community to resolve an impressive 182 cases. Through their efforts, 142 detainees have been released, with 40 of them benefitting from preventive pre-detention measures. Additionally, 21 cases have been referred to comprehensive service providers.
One of the veteran mediators, who specializes in debt cases, expressed the impact of their work, stating, "We mobilize the community resources and work alongside the formal justice system to settle conflicts and strengthen the social fabric in Aden."
The CMCs not only resolve disputes but also raise awareness of rights, advocate for gender equality, and contribute to the overall well-being of their communities, fostering greater social cohesion and harmony.
One remarkable aspect of the project is the "Chai Mulaban,” or tea with milk initiative, which showcases the extraordinary cooperation between the Community Mediation Committees and official justice bodies, including the police. This unique initiative involves sharing the traditional Adani hot beverage, milk tea, between community members and the police. It serves as a platform for information sharing on the crucial role of the police in ensuring citizens' security and the responsibility of citizens in maintaining society's safety. This initiative has helped to bridge the gap between police and community members, building trust and strengthening relationships.
To ensure the long-term sustainability of Community Mediation Committees, the PIAJY project has collaboratively developed Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) with formal authorities, civil society, and the Chamber of Commerce. These SOPs focus on community mediation processes and supervision structures to ensure quality assurance and accountability. Additionally, the project has furnished six offices for the CMCs, which are now fully operational. The local Chamber of Commerce and district governorate managers have expressed their continued support for the committees going forward, ensuring their sustainability.
The UNDP Governance and Rule of Law Programme, in partnership with the Kingdom of the Netherlands, remains dedicated to improving community-based justice mechanisms, strengthening formal justice systems in Yemen, and promoting inclusivity and equity through empowering partnerships and initiatives.
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