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Access to Justice Initiatives

Access to Justice Initiatives (AJI) are a cluster of projects carried out by the Sarhad Rural Support Programme (SRSP) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, which aim at enhancing legal awareness and empowering citizens at the grass-roots level by enabling them to lobby for their rights and seek remedies for their legal problems.

Access to Justice Initiatives comprises the following projects:

A common feature of the projects is that they all aim at strengthening the capacity of the disadvantaged communities to protect their rights and to participate and hold public institutions accountable. In traditional hierarchical societies, civil society organisations face challenges in promoting access to services for marginalized and vulnerable groups.

The projects seek to addresses issues of weak links among justice mechanisms and a lack of reliable legal support. Some of the projects focus on the informal justice institutions so that alternative dispute resolution methods can be used to settle disputes at community level, while helping to create a forum for dialogue between the formal and informal mechanisms. Members of the communities are trained as paralegals to bridge the gap between the most vulnerable members of society and the state institutions. In remote and backward areas of Pakistan the public at large is reluctant in trusting the police or lawyers but shows greater inclination in trusting notables of their own communities, who often resolve disputes via the Jirga system. The paralegals and mediators are briefed about human rights, legal system and the limits of their authority in solving complicated disputes. This ensures that rights of the participants are not forfeited. The Dispute Resolution Councils (DRC’s) set up in this respect are required to work in collaboration the local police to ensure transparency and efficiency. A significant number of women have been trained as mediatiors and paralegal to make the programme more receptive to women.



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