A guideline focused on family issues

The Uganda Family Justice Catalogue presents a solution guideline that combines identifiable best practices based on evidence about what works. It provides actionable ways for users and professionals to reach solutions of resolving family problems. Research shows that these problems have increasingly become a key concern especially for poor and marginalised persons. In many instances, land disputes are often at the centre of these problems leading to occasions of violence, assaults and murder. This interplay has a direct impact on the livelihood of those affected.

Data on family justice

The Justice Needs and Satisfaction Survey conducted by the Hague Institute for Innovation of Law (HiiL) in 2015 showed that many prevalent justice problems in Uganda were related to families. Almost 40% of the population declared having experienced a family justice problem in the previous four years. 28% of the female respondents declared to have a family problem, compared to just 10% of their male counterparts. The study further indicated that domestic violence poses a huge problem, especially for women who are almost three times more likely than men to suffer from its proliferation. Family issues were also reported to arise with higher frequency among young people. It is estimated that in a four year period between 4.6 and 4.8 million family problems occur in Uganda. Unfortunately, both the families and practitioners often lack access to effective tools to help them reach agreements when these conflicts arise.

Access to justice for the vulnerable

There is a need for innovative solutions to address many day-to-day problems that arise in communities. Such solutions should particularly enhance access to justice services for vulnerable persons. The focus in this new direction has been reiterated by the 4th Strategic Development Plan of the Justice Law and Order Sector (JLOS) so as to remove bottlenecks in delivery and access to JLOS services in line with the National Development Plan II and the Vision 2040. It recognises that the peoples’ needs and expectations of the justice system are also closely intertwined with their livelihood opportunities. They seek for appropriate tools and services to deliver user friendly justice as well as alternative remedies to conventional solutions.

Who could benefit?

Most family justice is provided by people relying primarily on their own experiences and those in the group where they live such as peers in their social network, volunteers, Local Council Courts and elders or leaders in the village. To help people more effectively, they might be interested in knowing what works best in mediation, negotiation and decision-making processes. Police, courts and other organizations already use guidelines for handling issues such as domestic violence.

The catalogue will be continually updated with recommendations for improved diagnosis and management of family justice problems. Such a living guidelines model will enable both service providers and users to make informed decisions.