----As CBDP resolved over 700 disputes from land conflicts, others
The founder and executive director of Citizens Bureau for Development and Productivity (CBDP), John Kamma, says the organization has concluded several training sessions for the Community Justice Team (CJT), a group comprising of community dwellers in three (3) of Liberia’s 15th Counties.
CBDP, which is a non-governmental, non-political, not-for-profit civil society and humanitarian organization, seeks to advance the rule of law, promote civil justice, citizens' police relations, and was developed from the restructuring and reforming of the new Liberia National Police (LNP) since 2009.
Kamma, whose statement was contained in a release issued on Monday, July 19, 2021, said CBDP wants to engage with community dwellers in the selected counties to continue the path of non-violence by peacefully resolving conflicts before reaching the point of violence or the need to be taken to the Police.
He named West Point, Logan Town in Montserrado County; Bassa Community in Kakata, Margibi County, and Kokoya/Demetre Road in Gbarnga, Bong County as beneficiaries of the program.
Kamma added that since 2014, the CBDP has been working with the CJT in Logan Town and West Point to solve disputes using the mediator's approach to conflict resolution, which he said is helpful given the frequent occurrences of disputes between neighbors in densely populated and low-income communities.
According to him, the approach is reducing the burden of ‘Small cases’ off the formal justice system, noting that people will continue to live together in their communities and therefore they must reach a quick resolution to their problems.
He said that where the formal justice system remained inaccessible, unaffordable with bureaucratic bottlenecks for an ordinary citizen, and there is simply no justice for the poor as accordingly declared by Liberians whilst researching this project.
“Given the above, mediators know very well that not all cases will be resolved through ADR processes. Careful evaluation of complaints and cases is required to ensure that they derived from a misunderstanding in the community. They do not downplay any complaint, providing a timely determination of disputes as opposed to the bureaucracy associated with the assignment of cases in the formal court system,” the release said
“Because our trained mediators live in the communities and understand the particular realities of the people and how the parties feel about their problems through follow-up visits make them effective. By doing so, the mediators listen to the parties as they may never have been listened to before. The mediators' approach creates doubt in parties' original positions, helping the parties generate new ideas, empowering people to solve their problems,” said Kamma.
The Executive Director of CBDP further disclosed that his institution also worked in collaboration with the Accountability Lab where a component of the CJT was scaled up in 2018 in two additional communities, Bassa Community in Kakata, Margibi County, and Kokoya/Demetre Road in Gbarnga, Bong County, with financial support from UNDP and partners.
The mediators as of this period, he said, recorded and resolved over 700 disputes, and 80 this year. Cases ranging from family disputes, debt, petty theft, rent payment, child support, fighting, among others.
Kamma recalled that since 2014, they have resolved at least 1665 disputes from land conflicts, and the action of debt.
“We estimate that pursuing a civil case within the formal justice system in Liberia requires bribes and legal fees totaling around US$300, which is equivalent to the average annual rent for the parties involved in these types of disputes.”