Enhancing Community Justice through Innovative Media:
1. Project Description
The “Enhancing Community Justice through Innovative Media: Legal Hub Uganda (LHU)” project blends innovative media (podcasts and online TV series) with radio to disseminate accurate legal messages to Ugandans. Leveraging its award-winning premiere product - ‘The Legal Podcast’ - a 30-minute topical discussion of legal matters by lawyers from Legal Hub Uganda (LHU) and other partners and online TV series, the project explains the human rights issues vis a vis government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This project relates to the 2020/21 Social Innovation Challenge (SIC) themes of supporting marginalized and vulnerable groups, community rights and resilience.
2. Problem Statement and Solution
Uganda is a constitutional republic and a signatory to international and regional instruments. However, many Ugandans still struggle to access justice with allegations against the government of disenfranchisement, harassment, social media censoring, and lack of transparency. Over 85 percent of lawyers are located in the capital Kampala and in major towns across the country, which means that the millions of Ugandans who live in rural and remote areas have limited physical access to legal aid service providers. Moreover, access to justice for land-related conflicts and gender-based violence victims is a growing concern, especially following the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown measures. The authorities used COVID-19 regulations as a pretext to violate rights and clamp down on citizens via unlawful evictions by police officers and the military. These violations resulted in many Ugandans losing their sources of livelihood, leaving them either homeless or impoverished.
A Needs Assessment carried out by Legal Hub Uganda in 2019 found that most Ugandans face several justice challenges, especially regarding land and domestic violence. Most marginalized Ugandan communities struggle to access justice services or do not know where to go if faced with an injustice. Many people in remote areas lack knowledge of the law and their rights, hence the need for legal service delivery to enhance human rights awareness and access to justice among marginalized groups. Additionally, the laws are written in English, yet most people in the countryside (forming the most significant percentage of Uganda’s population) cannot read, write, or understand English. The language barrier makes it difficult to understand the wordings of the law, rights, and the procedure of enforcing them. Persons with disabilities, especially the blind and deaf, have difficulties inferring what the statutes/laws say due to their inability to read ink-printed laws or hear the legislation process. These challenges leave them significantly disadvantaged at the expense of others in knowing their rights as provided by the law.
Despite several past interventions to address the challenge, most citizens lack access to legal information, education, and advice. This creates a need for innovative and evidence-based approaches to supplement the existing initiatives. The COVID-19 pandemic and the social distancing guidelines renders standard practices such as community outreach and legal aid clinic untenable.
3. Project Achievements
• Studio Revamp - LHU upgraded its studios to create visual content like videos and support events via Facebook ‘LIVE’. The studio now has improved soundproofing, freshly painted walls, new blinds, and new chairs.
• Podcast - LHU recorded twelve Podcasts explaining the human rights issues embedded in COVID-19 and the Government’s response.
• Online TV Series - LHU also recorded the online TV series on the implications of COVID-19 on human rights and coping mechanisms for rights holders and justice seekers. People can view the TV series on House of Talent TV’s YouTube Page and Legal Hub Uganda’s Facebook Page.
• Topics - The Podcasts and TV series were done on the following topics:
- COVID-19, the Law and Human Rights in Uganda
- COVID-19 and access to justice in Uganda
- COVID-19, Gender and Women’s Rights
- COVID-19, Property and Land Rights
- Impacts of COVID-19 on Employment and Labour Rights in Uganda
- Effects of COVID-19 on the right to food in Uganda
- Implications of COVID-19 on Civil Liberties in Uganda
- COVID-19 and the right to health of people in Uganda
- COVID-19 and Disability Rights in Uganda
- COVID-19 and Children’s Rights in Uganda
- COVID-19 and Rule of Law in Uganda
- COVID-19 and domestic violence in Uganda
• Radio Stations - LHU has contracts with Kyoga Veritas FM in Soroti, Eastern Uganda, and Rupiny FM in Gulu, Northern Uganda, to broadcast podcasts in two local languages.
Infographics. LHU has also started disseminating infographics around these topics on their Facebook page.