Uganda and SDG16. Justice Innovation and Leadership

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.

Hon. Deputy Chief Justice gives a speech on behalf of the Chief Justice, ¨[This] Conference is about ownership and cooperation to reach our goals.¨ 

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.

Pitches: Yunga prevents home break-ins. ¨It connects neighbour with neighbours and neighbours with the police. Any signal from the phone or other device goes to the Yuma machine, ensuring a quick response by police services and by the neighbourhood.¨

Pitches: FIDA Kiosk provides much sought legal information digitally. ¨Already the traction of one kiosk has been 936 persons helped. There is a need for information: information is power.¨

Pitches: Evidence and Methods Lab promotes access to simplified information on land rights. ¨Forced eviction is a major problem. Our information is user-friendly: it is pictorial, can be adapted to any language and is not limited to digital spaces¨.

Pitches: Legal Hub Uganda reduces ignorance of the law. ¨Land problems are prevalent and serious. Widows are particularly affected. We conducted a needs assessment and found a solution. Now, we have wider distribution mechanisms that are cost-effective and convenient- we have 500,000 listeners weekly!¨

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.

¨Justice is expensive and difficult, but once justice actors are able to see beyond the law we can get interesting solutions¨ – Theodora Webale, Uganda Law Society Legal Aid Project.

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.

Edgar Kuhimbisa, JLOS introduces the Uganda Justice Dashboard, ¨The Key focus of dashboard is to capture a sense of how people feel about justice. Capturing trends is important to define a media strategy.¨

 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

¨Women are affected by the most pressing justice problems. Women haven’t been a part of decision-making processes and that’s why processes are not really helping them. Only the data can lead the decision-makers to the real problems.¨ – Linda Alinda Ikanza, lawyer, educator and innovator.

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. 

¨The main reason for conducting the JNS is humans; people and relationships are harmed. If we know the problems we can also prevent. We need justice data in order to do that.¨ – Dr. Rodrigo Nunez, Justice Sector Adviser, HiiL

The Justice Needs and Satisfaction study will be published next year. It included an in-depth exploration of the problems faced by women.

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 documentary trailer:

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. 

¨We respect our justice leaders but the honest truth is that there is a distance. We need a more asserting society. Once we get a justice sector that is more accepting and is homegrown -without looking externally- that is when the justice sector [will change]¨ – Arinda Daphine, public interest layer and star of The Justice Leaders

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. 

Building a Sustainable Justice Innovation Ecosystem with Pheona Wall (Vice President of Uganda Law Society), Linda Alinda Ikanza (CEO, Nkola App), Kenneth Muhangi (Partner at KTA advocates) and Mark Beer, OBE (former President of the International Association for Court Administration).

¨Trust and reputation are the core of the justice system¨– Mark Beer OBE

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. 

Samantha [centre] holds the prototype of the Family Justice Catalogue.

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.

¨One can translate text-heavy document(s) into an easy to understand document with illustrations, organised in such a way it is easy to read.¨ – Michael Katagaya, Director of Evidence and Methods Lab.
¨The concept of this catalogue was proposed by HiiL. They are challenging us to think outside the box. We can give roadmaps on how to handle issue-specific situations/conflicts.¨ – Florence Nakachwa Dollo, Deputy Director, Law Development Centre. [Pictured left]

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.’

With special thanks to

The Sida team, represented on the day by Ola Hällgren. Hällgren shared that for Sweden, the focus is to help the most poor and vulnerable, knowing the justice system is key to that end.
Our MC´s: Rita Ngenzi and Michael Katagaya for keeping us on time and in the right place throughout the event