Strengthening Access to Justice through Legal Sector Development (SAJEA).
By Allan Parker, QC and Mark Benton, QC
The latter part of 2010 saw CBABC members making impressive contributions to the CBA’s International Development Program for East Africa. The current program is called Strengthening Access to Justice through Legal Sector Development (SAJEA).
Phase one of SAJEA is a two-year program between the CBA and partners in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Ethiopia. SAJEA is designed to strengthen the ability of justice system stakeholders to address issues related to access to justice and to increase collaboration among justice system stakeholders to improve access to justice.
The program is funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and is supported by the voluntary contributions of legal professionals in Canada and Eastern Africa. Full details for the program, including very informative newsletters, can be found at www.cba.org/SAJEA/en/main/default.aspx.
In July 2010, CBA 2nd Vice President Robert Brun, QC and CBABC Executive Director Caroline Nevin facilitated a three-day SAJEA conference in Kampala, Uganda on “Making Strategic Plans a Reality.” Several presidents, council members and senior staff attended the conference from the region’s law societies and Bar. Sessions dealt with governance capacity and priority setting, barriers in maintaining priorities and tips on project management and monitoring. There was also a session in “world café” format to discuss common issues and challenges in strategic plans.
In October 2010, LSS Executive Director Mark Benton, QC and Access Pro Bono Associate Executive Director Allan Parker, QC attended a three-day conference in Mombasa, Kenya. Also attending were lawyer Martha MacKinnon, Executive Director of the Justice for Children and Youth Clinic in Toronto and Andrea Redway, SAJEA Project Director for East Africa.
The focus of the conference was an update for the National Working Groups (NWGs) of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda on development of their legal aid plans as part of the current phase of the SAJEA program. Each NWG is made up of representatives of law societies, government agencies and various non-governmental agencies. As well as developing legal aid plans, the NWGs have developed focused pilot programs for their countries: Kenya on children’s programs; Tanzania in AIDS programs; and Uganda on community outreach and rights awareness.
The conference dealt with several practical issues, which are, in their own way, universal to all legal systems. These included: considering how to develop programs that ensure the client’s perspective is effectively considered; reviewing legal aid governance models and service delivery systems; and facilitating inter-organizational collaboration. Themes throughout the conference were how pro bono services could complement legal aid programs, and how community advocate services could support delivery of legal help.
Following the Mombasa conference, Mark and Allan travelled to Kampala, Uganda for two additional days of meetings at the invitation of the Uganda Law Society. Mark presented an additional session on legal aid governance, based on the work done at LSS. Allan then participated in a daylong session on training trainers who will be working with local volunteer community advocates on rights delivery programs – as part of that session, Allan was able to share with the participants the extensive materials developed for the Law Foundation’s Legal Advocacy Training Course.
Allan Parker, QC (centre front) and Mark Benton, QC (right) with the Uganda Law Society staff in Kampala.
This article was published in the February 2011 issue of BarTalk. © 2011 The Canadian Bar Association. All rights reserved.