By Nicholas Shawn Mugarura.
Care and Assistance for Forced Migrants (CAFOMI) in partnership with United Nations Higher Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) with funding from EU Civil Protection & Humanitarian Aid, under the spotlight initiative, conducted three legal aid clinics.
These were in Lukuli, Namasuba and Kawempe on the 10th, 11th and 12th of August 2022 respectively. The clinics were aimed at enhancing access to legal services and assistance to both refugee and host community members and over 200 persons benefited from the activities.
At the legal aid clinics, knowledge was shared about Gender Based Violence (GBV), Focusing on GBV forms and the GBV referral pathway. The sessions enlightened participants about the unlawfulness of rape and the procedures to respond to rape and defilement when they occur. This is in an effort to ensure that those who undergo rape or defilement get post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) to safeguard themselves from HIV.
According to Lwanga Deborah Marie CAFOMI GBV Prevention officer, legal consultancy is expensive, the legal aid clinics avail a platform for people to get legal knowledge and assistance freely.
“Legal aid clinics are a vehicle through which legal services are extended to the communities. People have legal challenges but have no one to seek advice from. At the legal aid clinics, they can make free legal consultations.” Said Barbra Balisanyuka, CAFOMI Legal Assistant.
At the legal education sessions, four lawyers from Justice Centres Uganda were engaged to provide in person legal advice to persons of concern and the host community members who were in need of it. CAFOMI GBV response team were on board to provide psychosocial support to those in need of it.
“Am grateful for the opportunity CAFOMI has availed me with to provide legal aid to community members, speaking to people and helping them solve legal dilemmas is not only my job but is my passion.” One of the lawyer’s from Justice Centre’s Uganda, counsel Linda Namulawa expressed.
Through the legal aid clinics free legal knowledge, assistance and access to case management were extended to community members. Key aspects and concerns from the community members were about the type of land that refugees can acquire in Uganda. Women co-ownership of property with their husbands and Men lodging complaints about violence.
“Am happy because the lawyers who CAFOMI brought have educated me about how to safeguard my interests in land. Imagine I bought land and signed as a witness not a buyer! Now I know that co-ownership of land exists.” One of the participants at the legal aid clinic in Kawempe, Zaitun Kadongo, commented.