EU justice, accountability project leaves legacy

EU justice, accountability project leaves legacy

Malawi Government has committed to continue with the momentum gained in contributing to dignified lives for Malawians through effective delivery of justice courtesy of a European Union (EU) project.

Chief Justice Rizine Mzikamanda made the commitment yesterday in Lilongwe during the winding up of the five-year Chilungamo (Justice and Accountability) Project.

He said: “Although the project has come to an end, it has left us well equipped. I know the question might be about sustainability, but we have had extensive capacity building and the public are already aware of all the channels of demanding for justice so there is no reverse.”

Mzikamanda said the project has contributed to increased levels of governance, accountability, compliance with the rule of law, and respect, promotion and protection of human rights.

Coordinated by the Ministry of Justice, the project was implemented by a number of beneficiary institutions, including the Judiciary, Malawi Police Service, Malawi Legal Aid Bureau, Office of the Ombudsman and Malawi Prison Services.

In her remarks, Ombudsman Grace Malera said the project has seen her office resolve 3 575 cases out of the 5 000 maladministration complaints, resolved over 4 000 cases out of about 5 000 brought under the hospital Ombudsman segment and completed 12 systemic investigations.

She said: “These systemic investigations include among others the Tractorgate and Covid-19 funds mismanagement.

“As we speak, we have completed 12 investigations and have submitted recommendations to relevant authorities.”

Malawi Legal Aid Bureau director general Masauko Chamkakala, who has just been appointed Director of Public Prosecutions, said the project helped the bureau to establish district offices and furnish them.

He said over 50 percent of the cases the bureau is handling are under the Chilungamo Project.

“The project also supported us in the awareness campaigns on the existence and the functions of the bureau,” Chamkakala said.

Minister of Justice Titus Mvalo said the evaluation of programme shows evidence that it has tremendously contributed to the improvement of the justice system in the country.

In his remarks, EU Ambassador Rune Skinnebach said the project has assisted over 100 000 Malawians by creating victim support units, ensuring people receive legal aid, resolving cases of maladministration, and facilitating the release of close to 5 000 prisoners.

He said: “The project supported the handling 6 100 cases of gender-based violence, supported the Malawi Human Rights Commission in handling 160 cases out of their annual target of 225, which corresponds to 71 percent achievement at mid-point level.”

The Justice and Accountability project was introduced in 2017 to reduce the burden on the criminal justice system, coordinate the criminal justice system, reduce prison overcrowding, and increase access to justice for both victims and offenders.

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