On 28 March 2020 twenty-three community members from Sabid, Anole and Afgoye districts of Lower Shabelle benefited from a training for advocacy groups on gender-sensitive advocacy and awareness-raising. During the training participants highlighted the need for continued community capacity building and awareness raising on issues of expanding access to justice, especially in early recovery areas. A key outcome of this training was the formation of three advocacy groups, one in each district. The groups are expected to increase community awareness on the available legal aid services, where to report legal cases and how to report.
The advocacy group members were provided with resource materials to enable them carry out advocacy and community awareness-raising on available legal services in early recovery areas and Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) settlements. The training enhanced the capacity of the community member to work as advocacy groups and apply different strategies to address incidents of violence when they occur in their communities.
The advocacy groups in turn provided training to local community elders and women groups on the available friendly legal aid services within the district, as well as justice pathways to expand access to justice for the marginalized communities. Participants at these trainings also discussed the different levels of violence experienced by communities in the early recovery areas and IDP settlements, as well as the opportunities available for seeking redress in such situations.
The following were the key outputs from the district level sessions:
- Increased community awareness on access to legal aid services
- The role of community in addressing incidents of violence in early recovery areas and IDPs was highlighted
- Issues of human rights violations in the three districts were discussed
- Capacity Building for local elders, and women on how to advocate for legal issues affecting their communities
- Advocacy committees set up in each district
The Expanding Access to Justice (EAJ) program will strive to increase awareness and general knowledge of legal rights, human rights, and options for recourse, especially for Somali women, youth, and marginalized groups. The program will respond to citizens’ needs by supporting civil society and government justice actors in sustainably improving the quality and scope of legal services.
The focus is on developing services that assist citizens in achieving rights-based outcomes through both the formal and informal justice systems. Working with government and civil society justice sector actors, EAJ’s ultimate goal is to increase the quality, reach, availability, and accessibility of legal aid services of legal aid service delivery in Somalia and Somaliland.