With AGHA’s advocacy, the district has made strides in sensitizing communities about GBV prevention and reporting for redress among rural communities. However, this knowledge does not directly translate in utilization of the redress services. Originally, victims complained about corruption at Police and formal courts, the long waiting days for court hearings and language barrier. Corruption had eroded the community’s trust in these structures while the long waiting aggravated battles between victims and perpetrators as they try to resolve issues on their own.
As a solution to these barriers of access to justice by grass roots, Dokolo district instituted LCIII Courts. This structure handles 2/3 of the cases at grass root level whereby 3-4 cases are heard a day. The cases include; cases of civil nature, cases governed by customary law, cases of bylaws or ordinance and cases involving children as defendants of minor cases. Recognizing the work they do for the community, AGHA supported the LCIII courts in the five sub counties of Kangai, Kwera, Adeknino, Okwongodul and Dokolo Sub County. These were provided with training in human rights, GBV and how to conduct court sessions. AGHA has also continuously mentored LC court members as well as providing stationary, printed guidelines and other basic needs. Furthermore, AGHA lobbied for another training for LCIII Courts by Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development (MGLSD), which attracted 30 LCIII court members in the district
Currently the LCIII courts are functional in five sub counties of Dokolo district and community testimonies attest to their positive role. One of the community members reported, ‘‘this court has done very well for me. I have recovered the construction items my husband had taken from me when he got another wife and wanted to take them to her.’’ But, these courts are still far from perfect. During our regular talk shows, community members reported that corruption and long waiting for hearings is persistent in these courts. “The judgements are always in favor of women whom the court officials can extract money from”, reported a caller.
Are we going to let these efforts die out since this phase of the project has come to an end?
Although the district instituted LCIII Courts, they are not financially catered for in the district or sub county budgets. They rely on the payments made by people who report cases to them to cater for both office and human resource welfare. A case is charged UGX12000 which is too expensive for these rural communities
The Dokolo District Social Development Department argues that much as they find this structure relevant and worth the district support, they are limited by the meagre funds from government to support GBV services. It should be noted that the MGLSD budget was reduced by 12% (approx. UGX21.172bn) in FY2017/18. This greatly affected finances to the local governments especially to the Community Development Office which is responsible for GBV prevention, redress and monitoring in the district.
With this background, we call upon the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development to allocate more funds to the Gender and Social Development sector to enable them promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development.