Paralegal networks play a critical role in establishing a link between the informal and formal justice systems in the East and Horn of Africa. Countries in the region have different experiences in their application of alternative justice systems and have benefitted from sharing information and best practices to enhance the capacity of paralegal support networks as they promote access to justice for minority, vulnerable and marginalized groups.
It is against this backdrop that IDLO, in collaboration with the East Africa Legal Aid Network (EALAN) and the East and Horn of Africa Paralegals Network (EAHPN), propose to convene a joint meeting to discuss the progress and gains made since the 2018 conference, convened under the auspices of the East African Community, and the 2019 forum of the EAHPN, which looked at the role of paralegals in promoting access to justice. The 2021 forum will create a knowledge sharing platform for initiatives that lay the foundation for improved access to justice in the East and Horn of Africa region through enhanced legal aid service provision. It seeks to promote Sustainable Development Goal 16 through paralegal networks, particularly for women, children and vulnerable groups.
The annual forum will review the following:
Advocacy initiatives and best practices aimed at the establishment of appropriate policy, legislative and administrative frameworks for improving access to justice through effective paralegal support networks in the respective member countries and in the region.
Enhancing strategic partnerships for sustainable resource mobilization in member countries and in the region, as well as for the promotion of appropriate dispute resolution mechanisms that build effective linkages with the judicial systems.
Establishment of an integrated information management system that facilitates sharing, knowledge transfer, storage, archiving and curation of information, cases and experiences among paralegals and paralegal support networks.
Cooperation and collaboration in the promotion of access to justice and the rule of law in the region.
The forum will bring together participants from representatives of various Legal Aid Networks drawn from both state and non-state agencies that form part of the EALAN, the members of the EAHPN, heads of paralegal organizations, civil society organizations, beneficiaries of paralegal support as an informal justice mechanism, experts in alternative justice systems, legal aid providers and Court User Committee members from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia and South Sudan.
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