Salima third grade magistrate Matthews Malunga has encouraged chiefs in the district to embrace village mediators, saying they are key to resolving minor cases at community level.
He said this on Saturday in the district when National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice) Trust in collaboration with the Paralegal Advisory Service Institute (Pasi) trained traditional leaders on access to justice procedures.
Malunga said courts are under enormous pressure to handle hundreds of cases, some of which can be handled by village mediators.
“Some of the cases we receive are not eligible to be handled by us. The mediators have been equipped to handle such cases and the speed at which cases are finalised by the mediators is faster than the courts,” he said.
Malunga bemoaned the rise in divorce cases, saying in a month they receive aminimum of 20 cases most of which are resolved by mediation at the courts.
He recommended that such cases should be handled by village mediators rather than the courts.
Nice Trust Salima district civic education officer Queen Mataya said under the Access to Justice Project, Pasi trains and deploys village mediators in communities.
“The village mediators are empowered to provide alternative dispute resolution of petty cases outside the formal justice system and legal courts,” she said.
Mataya urged chiefs to embrace the mediation system to bring sanity in their communities.
Senior Chief Maganga, one of the chiefs benefiting from the village mediation committees, lauded the mechanism for bringing sanity in his area through peace-building and enhancing relations among community members.
Access to Justice Project seeks to provide a cost-effective, efficient, and inclusive approach to increasing access to justice for the poor and vulnerable members of society.