This report is about the Justice Innovation and Leadership Conference held on Tuesday 19th and Wednesday 20th November in Kampala, Uganda. The event was sponsored by Sida and was co-facilitated by the Justice Law and Order Sector and HiiL.
¨The sustainable development goal 16 is not a ¨nice to do¨, it is a promise, and one that we in this room can hold member states accountable to fulfill.¨ – Sam Muller, CEO of HiiL
The Justice Innovations and Leadership Conference in Uganda (JILC) was convened to bring the leadership, innovative solutions, and front line justice providers together to most towards fulfilling the promise.
The challenges that individuals face to get justice in their lives – especially women and vulnerable groups – were approached during interactive discussions with realism, a dedication to be evidence-based, and vulnerable conversations on individual leadership that works for the people.
Key stakeholders in Uganda participated in the event as an opportunity for Uganda to be at the forefront of implementing innovative solutions globally.
With those in attendance fully aware of the challenges in seeking to create a justice system that works for everyone, the JILC was about finding the solutions and the leadership to implement them to deliver on equal access to justice for all Ugandans.
Uganda is a global hotspot for innovation
Uganda is a global hotspot for justice innovation, such were the words of the Chief Justice spoken by his deputy to open the event. Throughout the day, we heard the examples of inspired innovation and leadership byinstitutions, grassroots civil society actors and the private sector.
We heard from high-quality innovations that solve urgent problems. The solutions ranged from prevention of injustice, legal information and alternate pathways to justice.
The winning Ugandan teams found through the annual Innovating Justice Challenge presented their ideas to the audience. The challenge is designed in such a way as to find the innovative solutions that address the key problems that emerge from the data.
The Justice Law and Order Sector expressed a wish to deepen ties with the innovators, referencing positive previous experiences with HiiL innovators. While innovations most often address the justice gap they can often be dependent on public institutions to some degree. Therefore a government that is open to and fosters justice innovation is a boon to these initiatives creating more impact.
The next opportunity for Ugandan teams to apply to the Justice Accelerator program is Spring 2020.
Data that ensures a justice journey which takes care of each person´s particular needs
This also speaks to Uganda being one of the countries whose leadership is most willing to engage with justice data based on the actual needs of its citizens. JLOS and HiiL are developing a Ugandan Justice Dashboard that will go live next year.
Peacebuilding processes are in need of data. By combining different sources of data; government statistics and people-centred data such as that by SEMA and HiiL, we capture a sense of how people feel about justice. – Edgar Kuhimbisa
Justice Data as a Foundation for Innovation and Leadership
Dr. Rodrigo Nunez introduced the second nation-wide survey, the Justice Needs and Satisfaction survey. We first collected people´s experiences in 2016, from which we were able to prioritize interventions. The process was described as: research problem, analyse and find solutions that expand access to justice. Because, in the end, data is about people-centred justice. It enables providers of justice to listen to people, know the kind of problems we can prevent, and with leadership that uses the data ultimately access to justice will improve.
World premiere of The Justice Leaders
A highlight of the event was screening the documentary, The Justice Leaders which had a profound impact on participants. The audience was deeply moved by these profoundly sincere examples of people-centred leadership.
The two examples of justice leadership exhibited in the documentary inspired both the audience and panel members to delve into their own experiences and share their dreams for how to achieve humane and dignified justice for all.
The documentary gave a new perspective. As I was watching, I realized that Arinda is a true justice leader. A fair justice system should provide help for the marginalized. She went back to her roots and into the community. Such people who question the way of working and ask, ´what has gone so wrong?´ are examples of leaders. Perhaps this is me admitting vulnerability: I learned. – Hon. Lady Justice Lillian Tibatemwa-Ekirikubinza Judge of the Supreme Court of Uganda.
This is not to say that discussions were devoid of criticism of the justice sector. Indeed, criticising leadership openly is not something particularly common in such spaces, but with due respect, the participants were able to discuss the areas in which leadership can – and needs to – be most connected to the people.
At the same time, we were able to recognise where leadership making strides towards delivering fair outcomes to the people.
The consensus that emerged from these discussions was to collectively work towards having strong leadership in Uganda, ultimately independent of foreign support, and one that is accessible to people.
Put the Data to Work: A Solution for Family Justice
The Justice Innovation and Leadership, Conference was also a great occasion to cement innovations HiiL has been developing supported by Sida, into the wider justice ecosystem, having developed them with pockets of the sector over the past years.
One such innovation was the Family Justice Catalogue. It was encouraging to hear the early response to the tool is that it is useful and needed. Divorce and separation is not perceived well in Uganda. Families, and in particular the rural poor, are in need of fair outcomes. The catalogue is in a series of guidelines for various situations relating to family justice that commonly arise; how to best protect the interests of children, how best to delineate obligations and how best to communicate on these matters. For the two versions of the catalogue, you can download them both here.
Closed sessions: The JLOS Leadership Forum
On the second day, we facilitated the JLOS Leadership Forum. It was a distinctive occasion whereby all of the leadership of the various components of Uganda´s justice sector was in one room.
A justice journey can be viewed as one continuous pipeline. To approach improving that journey from the perspective of the user of the justice system, every stage must be accounted for.
As the Honourable Chief Justice, Bart Katureebe said: ‘You are together now, as the leaders of the justice system of Uganda. The citizens have spoken. The goal is one we all share: equal access to justice for all by 2030 in line with the Sustainable Development Goals Uganda subscribed to.¨ With the mission to make the justice system more people-centred and more accessible, the top officials worked on coming up with recommendations, solutions and innovations. The room was action-orientated with the Chief Justice´s words framing the meeting: ‘It cannot be ´just talk´, there needs to be follow up.’