Local non-governmental organization, Accountability Lab working in partnership with the Citizens Bureau, and support from West Point Health and Sanitation, has won third place in the Global Namati Justice Prize.
According to information, the Namati staff who shortlisted Accountability Lab for the judges admired its sustainable, self-funded program in Liberia and believe that it is scaleable and well-placed to develop with an extensive corps of mediators working in slum communities in Monrovia that are hard pressed for justice services.
Brooks Marmon of Accountability Lab told the daily Observer yesterday that 160 organizations participated in the competition but three were selected for the prizes.
He said Sierra Leone, India and Liberia were chosen due to their successful programs in their various communities.
Mr. John W. Kamma, executive director of Citizens Bureau, with its offices in Logan Town, Monrovia, said Accountability Lab’s selection for the third place is an indication that much is being accomplished in the country.
He explained that Citizens Bureau, with support from Accountability Lab’s Community Justice Teams (CJTs) have transformed the dynamics of conflict response in some of Monrovia’s most densely-populated, low-income, and conflict prone communities. In the past year, the CJTs resolved over 150 cases with full cooperation of all parties in two of the most difficult neighborhoods of Monrovia, West Point and Logan Town, renowned for insecurity and the absence of the rule of law.
At the individual level, these efforts save citizens time and money. This project is small, but for a total investment of around $4,000, the CJTs have saved citizens more than $9,000 in bond, administrative, and travel fees, and approximately 350 days of time that they otherwise would have spent navigating a confusing court system. This has allowed them to focus on what is important in their lives – like earning money to feed their families and educate their children.
Kamma said late July last year, “Citizens Bureau for Development and Productivity (Citizens Bureau) launched its formal community mediation program in Logan Town and with technical support from Accountability Lab as well as seed-funding from Trust Africa, invited civil society representatives, government officials and United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) attended.”
On the award, Kamma, in a release acknowledged its significance because community members have expressed satisfaction for the Citizen’s Bureau interventions in their mediation services and considers it a means to resolve cases in the country.
“Our program promotes access to justice in the slum communities and therefore this award has come at a particularly precipitous time as the United Nations Mission in Liberia prepares to hand over full security responsibilities to the Liberian government,” Kamma said.
He noted that the award, an undisclosed monetary value to be received by Accountability Lab, is the first grassroots justice award, as an indicator of hope for peace and promotion of good neighborliness among community dwellers.
The Citizens Bureau seeks to supplement the capacity of the state, saving affected parties time and money while using local mediators to hear civil complaints and offer non-binding solutions.
Namati is a non-governmental organization that has a prize fund for organizations and individuals who are using the law, paralegals or grassroots legal advocates or legal education and awareness-raising to tackle poverty, injustice and social problems. The Justice Prize was launched in partnership with BRAC and the World Justice Project. Namati’s CEO is Vivek Maru.