Last month International Alert held sessions with community elders and members of the panchayat (a form of local self-government) from Jacobabad and Kashmore districts in Sindh province, Pakistan, to increase their awareness and knowledge of the formal justice system in the country.
One of the main issues faced by migrants and other vulnerable communities in the area is around the formal justice system. The aim of the sessions was therefore to improve the social integration of migrant communities in the two districts by attempting to foster better links between the formal and informal justice service providers.
Over 120 community dignities participated in a total of eight, three-day sessions, held from 3–11 January. The sessions were initiated with a discussion on the conflict context of the area and the human behaviours related to peace, security, rights and duties. The trainers elaborated on the different types of law – i.e. state, traditional, modern and religious – and emphasised the individual importance of upholding each.
There was also a session on alternative dispute resolution (ADR) systems, to assess the existing knowledge of participants on ADR and further explain these systems, including their role in mediation, facilitation and arbitration. Community elders and panchayat members were also introduced to the mechanisms and history of the restorative justice system (RJS), comparing it with ADR and discussing the ways RJS could be adopted in their decision-making processes.
The training involved a diverse methodology, including plenary, group work, brainstorming, role-plays and presentations. They expressed an increased knowledge on peace and conflict issues, the state judicial system, traditional, state and religious laws, ADR methods, and mechanisms of RJS.
This work is part of Alert’s project on strengthening the social integration of migrant communities around access to justice and security in the two districts, which is funded by Development Alternatives Incorporated’s (DAI) Enhanced Democratic Accountability and Civic Engagement (EDACE) Project.