No lawyers, rather 'para-jurists'

Marloes Humbeeck
17 April 2019
In order to improve access to justice in Chad, the NGO Avocats sans Frontières (ASF) provides technical and financial support to so-called 'para-jurists': volunteers who inform the local population about their rights. 
 

Chad is a country with 14 million inhabitants.... and 135 lawyers, almost all of whom are based in the capital N'Djamena. While 32 percent of the people who need legal assistance get it, this percentage is ten times lower in the countryside, making it extremely complicated for rural people to assert their rights. Moreover, most people simply cannot afford to hire a lawyer.


Fortunately, there are people who voluntarily work to prevent conflicts and resolve them peacefully: so-called 'para-jurists'. They are trained by various organisations to deal with the most common legal problems in Chad, such as domestic violence, forced marriages, child neglect and land distribution disputes, and to teach the local population how to represent themselves legally. 
 

We want to be para-jurists to help our country. The training has helped me better understand the problems in our society and has taught me how to raise awareness among the people in my community. 

Madjibarne, para-jurist

Para-jurists play an important social role in Chad. Madjibarne (53), mother of five children and an active para-jurist since 2013, explains: 'We want to be para-jurists to help our country. The training has helped me better understand the problems in our society and has taught me how to raise awareness among the people in my community. I want to continue doing this because volunteering is vital to the development of my country.'
 

Marceline, para-jurist, along with victims
© ASF/Salma Khalil

Difficult conditions


Unfortunately, the conditions para-jurists work in are frequently difficult. They often do not get recognised by authorities, lack sufficient financial resources and do not have access to transport, forcing them to walk long distances to reach their customers. As a result, they often find themselves unable to support their own families.


The initiative of Avocats sans Frontières and its local partners aims to improve these conditions in order to make Chad a more just society.  The NGO organises training modules for the para-jurists about the legal problems people in their community encounter most. It also tries to connect the parajurists to allow them to discuss the obstacles they face and exchange good practices. Moreover, the organisation supports para-jurists financially with their transport and communication costs. Finally, it calls for better recognition of their role and status.

 

Chad Justice
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