Most women ignorant about court procedures

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The petitions submitted to the Legal and Justice Sector Reform Commission in the five townships where it held public sittings in Lusaka have shown that the majority of women do not understand court procedures.

It has also been observed that most women do not report cases to law enforcement agencies due to intimidation and lack of confidence in the agencies.

The Commission held public sittings in Kabwata, Chawama, Mtendere, Garden and Matero townships from last week on July 21 to today, August 1 with the first sitting being held at the Civic Center.

Meanwhile, The Legal and Justice Sector Reform Commission today concluded its public sittings in Lusaka with Matero township being the last.

ZANIS reports that over half of the women petitioners expressed ignorance about court procedures and great fear for law enforcement agencies such as the Police, Drug enforcement Commission, Anti-Corruption Commission and the Human Rights Commission.

When asked by Commissioners to explain their encounters with the courts and the law enforcement agencies, most women petitioners openly disclosed that they know little or nothing about the court procedures and that they simply leave everything to lawyers and judges to decide their fate.

During public sittings in Matero today almost all the women who came to submit their petitions brought up personal cases that have either been mishandled by the courts or have not been reported to the law enforcement agencies which they wanted the Justice commission to address.

A group of widows of the former Zambia Breweries employees presented petitioned the Commission to compel the company to pay them benefits of their deceased husbands an indication that they do not know the procedure of handling legal matters with the courts.

Commission Chairperson Frederick Chomba noted that the women did not understand where such cases could be addressed and assigned some officers from the Ministry of Justice to guide them on how they can get legal representation from the Legal Aid Board to take their case to court.

Similar challenges of women bringing personal problems to the Commission instead of submissions to reform the legal and justice sector for it to be accessible and fair in its discharge of duties characterized the public sittings in Chilenje, Chawama, Civic Centre, Kabwata and Mtendere townships where the it  conducted public sittings from last week.

Meanwhile, a Paralegal officer Francis Mvula submitted that the legal Aid Board is not accessible to the public because of its lack of presence in other parts of the country.

Mr. Mvula who is Head of the Justice Commission of the Catholic Church in Matero called for the decentralization of the Legal Aid Board so that people in rural areas who cannot afford legal fees could be represented in the courts of law.

Mr. Mvula also observed that failure by the courts to clear cases in time has led to congestion of inmates in Prisons.


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