ACHPR...the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights
ADR...Alternative Dispute Resolutions
CFR...Charter of the Fundamental Rights of the European Union
CJEU...Court of Justice of the European Union
CSOs...Civil Society Organizations
ECHR...the European Court of Human Rights
FDRE...The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
FJAC...Federal Judicial Administration Commission
HPR...the House of Peoples Representatives
ICCPR...International Convention on Civil and Political Rights
ICESCR...International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
JLRIO...Justice and Legal System Research Institute of Oromia
UDHR...Universal Declaration of Human Rights
UNDP...United Nations Development Program
USIP...United States Institute for Peace
I am greatly indebted to the Research and Publication Office of the Arsi University and
the Law School of Arsi University for the Provision of the necessary budget to the
proper accomplishment of the study.
My thankfulness is also extended to all the respondent participants in the study area of
the identified weredas for their valuable contributions as a respondent to the proper
conclusion of the study.
Table of Contents
1. CHAPTER ONE: the Research Proposal
1.1 the Historical Background of Access to Justice...2
1.2 Statement of the Problem...10
1.3 Objectives of the Study...12
1.4 Significance of the Study...12
1.5 Scope or Delimitation of the Study...13
1.6 Research Methodology and Methods of Analysis...14
2. CHAPTER TWO: Review of Related Literature
2.1 Definition and Conceptual Analysis of Access to Justice...16
2.2 The Principles of Access to Justice as Envisaged under the FDRE
2.3 Access to Justice as envisaged under Major International
3. CHAPTER THREE: Access to Justice and Law Enforcement Institutions
3.1 The Judiciary...60
3.1.1 Federal Courts...60
3.1.2 State Courts...64
3.1.3 Municipal Courts...65
3.1.4 Social Courts...65
3.1.5 Religious Courts...66
3.1.6 Customary Courts...67
3.2 Federal Institutions... 68
3.3 State Institutions...71
4. CHAPTER FOUR: the Challenges of Access to Justice in the Arsi Zone of
Oromia Regional State
4.1 The Challenges of Access to Justice Related to the Element of Legal
4.1.1 Analysis of Interview Questions and Questionnaires on Legal
Knowledge in the Study Area...76
4.2 The Challenges of Access to Justice related to the Element of Legal
4.2.1 Analysis of Questionnaires Questions and Informal interview on the
element of Legal Framework in the Study Area...88
4.3 The Challenges of Access to Justice related to the Element of Advice and
4.3.1 Analysis of Questionnaires Questions and Informal interview on the
element of Advice and Representation in the Study Area...100
4.4 The Challenges of Access to Justice related to the Element of Factors
Associated with the Justice Institutions (Courts, Justice Office and Police
4.4.1 Analysis of the responses given on Factors Associated with the
1. The Justice Institutions in Menesa wereda...115
2. The Justice Institutions in Shirka Wereda...119
3. The Justice Institutions in Arsi Robe Wereda...123
4. The Justice Institutions in Tena Wereda...127
5. The Justice Institutions in Sude Wereda...131
5. CHAPTER FIVE: Conclusion and Recommendations
Striving for justice in present time has become as grueling as for a blind man to
describe color. Nonetheless, if the hindrances and obstructions are figured and
tackled it is an achievable undertaking. The motive behind this study is to
discuss various issues which are obstructions in the way to justice and to provide
the plausible solutions.
This study is divided in to five chapters. The First Chapter deals with the
Research Proposal. Then the Second Chapter is destined to deal with the Review
of Related Literatures on the subject matter of access to Justice. Then Chapter
Three precisely outlines the justice institutions in the country both at the Federal
and State levels of government. Then the main issue of this study, which is the
challenges of Access to Justice in the Arsi Zone of the Oromia Regional State,
will be analyzed on the Fourth Chapter and finally Chapter Five would outline
and suggest the necessary Conclusion and Recommendations.
Different people face different legal problems. The legal needs in a poor rural
community will be quite dissimilar to the legal needs of an affluent suburban community
in Addis Ababa or Adama. Both sets of needs for just resolution of the existing conflicts,
however, could be equally important and pressing since they both have a deep impact
on everyday life. In a more abstract way, access to justice is defined as `commonly
applied process that people address in order to cope with their legal problems'. A court
procedure is an obvious example of access to justice. However, the definition includes
both formal and informal procedures. This means that a mediation procedure, or a
procedure before an informal Commission or other neutral third party, also qualifies
as access to justice.
An example of access to justice is a criminal procedure for a victim of robbery. The
beginning of the path may be calling the police and the end of the path may be a court
verdict or a dropped case due to insufficient evidence. This research aims to measure
the adequacy of the legal system to respond to the needs of individuals, communities,
and societies in the Arsi zone of Oromia region. The path to justice can be measured
from the perspective of the user or the service provider. Holistic measurement of justice
from the perspective of the users provides plenty of information on the performance
and impact of the procedure. How many resources have the users spent attempting to
obtain a resolution? Did they receive a resolution and is it seen as just? Are they
satisfied with the quality of the procedure? These and other questions could be
addressed using the data provided by the users. On the other hand, access to justice
can be measured from the perspective of the service providers i.e. the courts, police
and the prosecutor's office. In this regard, the cost of justice, the quality of the
procedures in the institutions, and quality of the outcome that users expect from the
justice system are the typical tools to measure access to justice.
In Ethiopia access to justice is usually blocked by a number of factors i.e. lack of
qualified man power, budget, law moral, corruption and the public's attitude and
understanding of the justice system. This problem is exacerbated in remote areas of the
country like the study area of this research. However, the solutions seem to be elusive
because there are no actual studies conducted on the extent of the problem. Thus, this
study would begin the first step in understanding problems of access to justice in
weredas of the Arsi zone of Oromia Region, with the objective of coming up with
The Research Proposal
1.1 The Historical Background of Access to justice
1.1.1 by Country Experience on Access to Justice
In Europe, the right to access to justice, specifically to a court or a tribunal, was
developed by the ECHR in the context of Article 6 of the ECHR and has since been
extensively dealt with in scholarly doctrine. Article 6 ECHR applies only to "civil rights
and criminal charges". Although ECHR (the European Court of Human Rights)
jurisprudence has, over the years, continuously enlarged the scope of the notion of `civil
rights', so that nowadays also considerable parts of administrative law are now covered
by the safeguards of this provision. It is nonetheless a notable step forward that Article
47 of the CFR (Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union) has abandoned
this restriction, deliberately granting access to justice to all sorts of rights and freedoms
guaranteed by the law of the Union.
According to long established case law of the CJEU (Court of Justice of the European
Union (formerly the Court of Justice of the European Communities), unless specified,
access to justice is one of the constitutive elements of a Union based on the rule of law.
This is guaranteed in the treaties through establishing a complete system of legal
remedies and procedures designed to permit the CJEU to review the legality of
measures adopted by the institutions.
The right to effective judicial protection has been accepted by the CJEU as a general
principle of Union law, as influenced by the case law of the ECHR. The CJEU has
traditionally used the constitutional traditions common to the Member States and
Articles 6 and 13 ECHR (Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and
Fundamental Freedoms or European Convention on Human Rights as a basis for the
right to obtain an effective remedy before a competent court).
Access to justice in Europe: an overview of challenges and opportunities, a Report Prepared by the European
Union Agency for Fundamental Rights in 2010, Page 17,
Advocate General Ruiz-Jarabo Colomer has stated in his Opinion in Roda Golf & Beach
Resort SL that:
Access to justice is a fundamental pillar of western legal culture. Therefore, the
right to effective legal protection is one of the general principles of EU
Community law, in accordance with which access to justice is organized. Access
to justice entails not only the commencement of legal proceedings but also the
requirement that the competent court must be seized of those proceedings.
In other words, one may logically deduce from the above quote that, access to justice
must be much more than a mere formal possibility, it must also be feasible in practical
terms. Within the EU legal order, the right to effective legal protection equally covers
access to the EU courts (here, the Court of Justice and the General Court), as well as
access to national courts and tribunals for the enforcement of rights derived from EU
When we look in to the case of Kenya, the Constitution of Kenya has widely envisaged
access to justice as one of the core principles in entrenching fair practice both in
criminal and civil proceedings. An appraisal of the situation in Kenya however shows
that whereas state bodies are directly involved in provision of legal aid, their limited
scope or mandate and capacity make Non-governmental Organizations and other
experts crucial in providing this essential service. In this regard, the constitution of
Kenya has played a pivotal role in guaranteeing the right to access to justice.
Accordingly, Article 48 of the Kenyan Constitution ensures the provision of Access to
justice for all. Article 49 of the same constitution expresses the Rights of an arrested
person. The same constitution on its article 50 envisages the provision of Fair Hearing
and Rights of persons detained, held in custody or imprisoned is guaranteed under
Article 51 of the same constitution.
In Australia the issue of guaranteeing the right to access to justice has passed through
intensive and periodical reforms over long period of time.
Karol Limondin, `Access to Justice and Legal Aid in East Africa,' Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR),
(2011), Page 1
Since the 1990s, the country has engaged its legal system in several important reviews
about access to justice. The following are the major reforms undertaken by the
1. Access to Justice: An action plan The Access to Justice Advisory Committee Report
(1994): In 1993, the then Attorney-General Michael Lavarch and Minister for Justice
Duncan Kerr commissioned an advisory committee led by Ronald Sackville QC, later
a judge of the Federal Court of Australia, to consider ways in which the legal system
could be reformed in order to enhance access to justice and make the legal system fairer,
more efficient and more effective. The Committee took a broad view of access to justice
and looked at a range of court based and non-court based issues, including regulation
of the legal services market, legal aid, ADR, court fees, case management, legislation
and provision of information.
2. Access to Justice: Final Report (United Kingdom) (1996): A major review of the
rules and procedures of civil justice courts in Australia, England and Wales undertaken
by then Master of the Rolls, the Right Honourable the Lord Woolf (later Lord Chief
Justice of England and Wales). The Woolf Report (as it came to be known) was focused
on access to justice issues in litigation and the court system. It made detailed
recommendations on all aspects of case management and court rules and procedures.
3. Managing Justice: A review of the federal civil justice system Australian Law
Reform Commission Report No 89 (1999): The Managing Justice Report was the end
product of a comprehensive inquiry by the Australian Law Reform Commission
(ALRC) into access to justice. Specifically, the ALRC was to make recommendations
with a view to developing a `simpler, cheaper and more accessible legal system'. The
ALRC was charged under its terms of reference with focusing largely on court practices
and procedures and case management in Commonwealth courts and tribunals, but the
report also looked at legal assistance - including pro bono work and legal aid
4. Federal Civil Justice System Strategy Paper (2003): The Federal Civil Justice System
Strategy Paper was prepared by the Attorney-General's Department as a response to
A Report on A Strategic Framework for Access to Justice in the Federal Civil Justice System, (2009),
ISBN97192124191, PP. 13-15
Australian Law Reform Commission, Managing Justice: A review of the federal civil justice system, Terms of
Reference, Report no 89, 1999.
the ALRC's Managing Justice Report. The Strategy Paper's stated purpose was to make
recommendations for short-term improvements to the federal civil justice system and
to raise some longer term issues for further consideration.
The Strategy Paper looked
at a broad range of access to justice issues, primarily looking at keeping disputes out of
court and ensuring that disputes that do reach court are resolved as efficiently and
cheaply as possible.
5. Civil Justice Review- The Victorian Law Reform Commission Report (2008): In May
2004, the Victorian Government released a Justice Statement, which outlined directions
for reform of Victoria's justice system. The Justice Statement set out broad directions
for both the civil and criminal justice systems in Australia, including for the civil justice
system that: courts be made more accessible, especially for those in regional areas and
those from multicultural or Indigenous backgrounds; technology be used more to
improve the efficiency of service delivery and information provision; civil disputes be
able to be resolved earlier by increasing access to out-of-court dispute resolution and
more low level intervention, and; The legal profession be reformed to make it more
efficient, accountable and responsive to consumer needs.
When we deal with the historical background of Access to Justice in India, Access to
Justice Dates back to Ramayana era where it was duty of the emperor to give justice to
its citizens and the citizens always had access to the king. Similarly, this principle has
found reference to the era of Upanishad where there is a law governing king of kings
and the same was also enshrined in the Kautilya Arthashastra.
Refer to the following
periods in the history of India regarding the evolution of access to justice in particular
and the legal system in general: during the Vedic Period
, the Maurya period
During the British Rule, however, India adopted a common law system. When the
country became independent on 15
August, 1947 it adopted a written constitution
Attorney-General's Department, Federal Civil Justice System Strategy Paper, Executive Summary,
Harshvardhan, Naina Jindal, Access to Justice for All- the case of the Indian Justice System: An Overview, PP.
D.D. Agarwal, Jurisprudence in India: Through the Ages, P. 37
Angela Tang, Comparative Analysis of Certain Criminal Procedure Topics in Islamic, Asian, and Common Law
Systems. https://law.wm.edu/academics/.../Analysis of Certain Criminal
D.D. Agarwal, Jurisprudence in India through Ages, Islamic Jurisprudence, P. 157.
where the principles of natural justice like liberty and equality were enshrined in its
principle. For instance, Part 3 of the constitution guarantees fundamental rights to all.
Besides, Article 13.2 states that the state shall not make law which infringes the rights
of the citizens while Article 19 gives fundamental rights with regards to privacy, liberty
and so on. Moreover, Article 21 states for Right to Life and Education. However, it is
Article 32 of the Indian Constitution, which is called by Austin as conscience of the
constitution as it allows the citizens to move to Supreme Court and High Courts under
Article 226 in case of violation of the fundamental rights.
When we come to the evolution of access to justice in Ethiopia, there has never been
much development of the concept before the promulgation of the FDRE constitution,
which extensively rules on the right to access to justice directly by defining justiceable
matter on it Article 37 and by enumerating all the necessary provisions that will realize
access to justice to various groups of persons such as women, Children, the Elderly,
Accused persons, Arrested persons and so on. In addition to the constitution, the FDRE
government has also promulgated adequate number of other proclamations that cherish
the right to access justice institutions such as the Criminal code, the Civil and Criminal
Procedure laws and all the government since 1991 has ratified international instruments
(article 13 of the FDRE constitution dictates that all ratified conventions are assimilated
to be the law of the land) that incorporated golden principles on the rights to access
justice institutions. Finally, it should be mentioned that the challenges of access to
justice in Ethiopia are not related to lack of adequate legal framework to that effect but
other problems related to various factors we will deal with in chapter four of this study.
When we come to access to justice research in Ethiopia, the lion share of the roles is
played by the Center for Human Rights of the Addis Ababa University which has
conducted around nine research paper in relation to access to justice however the studies
are conducted on national level and in relation to the FDRE constitution.
Refer to the material developed by Pietro S. Toggia (Prof.), Thomas F. Geraghty (Prof.), and Kokebe
W. Jemaneh, Access to Justice in Ethiopia: Toward an Inventory of Issues, Center for Human Rights,
Addis Ababa University (2014).
1.1.2 Historical Debates on Access to Justice
After having discussed the background of Access to Justice in the legal systems
mentioned above, now let's try to review the historical Debate on Access to Justice as
The notion of access to justice is recognized in the constitutional laws of many countries
in the forms of legal aid, the right of access to a judicial process, and the right to have
appropriate legal remedies. However, if one investigates deeper into the history of its
theoretical development, access to justice is a broader and more complicated concept
than those specified in these constitutional laws.
Let us start by reviewing the Main Points from the Nineteenth Century. In the past it is
clearly evident that, whether or not they were officially sanctioned by the state, caste
systems have been prevalent in one form or another in virtually all societies throughout
human history. In traditional societies, each individual understands and accepts their
rights and duties which are determined by society based on their birth. In pre-Meiji
Japan for example the caste system was comprised of samurai, the ruling class, the
farmer, the artisan and the merchant. Another example of these systems which is still
deeply rooted in society and which has survived to the present day is the caste system
of India. Under that system, members of society are divided into four distinct classes,
namely the Brahmin, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras in order of their place in
society, modes of materials, natures and their professions. When a society industrializes
and law in its modern sense becomes widely accepted, the traditional concept of society
assigning different rights and duties to members of society on the basis of their birth is
viewed as inherently unjust. There emerges the Rule of Law or Rechtsstaat under which
it is though that the law should be born of rationale thought and can be universally and
equally applied to every member of society. From this standpoint, a thought on modern
law which gives substantial focus and importance to various kinds of rights, has been
Every person irrespective of their birth, gender, age, race, nationality, occupation,
income, sexual orientation, social status or station in life, must be afforded the same
rights and protection under the law. These are commonly known as equal rights which
Cappelletti, Mauro and Bryant Garth, Access to Justice: The Worldwide Movement to Make Rights
Effective - a General Report, Access to Justice: A World Survey (vol. 1, book 1), (1978).
were the driving force behind the birth of the access to justice concept in the early
nineteenth century. As a result, there were a large number of legal reforms in many
countries aimed at improving laws to make them easier to understand and apply and at
providing a universally applicable judicial process that could be accessed by all citizens.
However, the outcomes of these early legal reforms have not been so satisfactory. At
that time, it seemed only the middle class of the society benefitted from the improved
access to equal justice while the lower classes of society received little benefit from
these new legal modifications. For instance, it is commonly reflected by statistics that
those who exercised their legal rights through judicial processes in both civil and
criminal cases mostly came from the members of the middle class such as tradesmen or
technicians. This is because these were the only groups whose members could afford
the cost of the judicial process. Thus, the initial attempts to establish a rational structure
of law and equal justice still contained the remnants of traditional social stratifications,
maintaining an invisible barrier between certain groups of the population (the poor and
working class) and the judicial process.
The initial focus of various endeavors on access to justice throughout legal systems was
on legal representation. The notion of access to justice became a strong influence on
legal reform in the early 1960s. It began with the idea of providing assistance to the
poor to enable them to participate in the judicial process. Such assistance took the form
of state funded legal aid agencies providing free legal representation and advice to the
poor. The view of the time was that the poor had no financial means of litigating and
lacked adequate legal knowledge to protect their legal rights. Due to this, they were
often at a disadvantage when they were involved in the judicial process. To comply
with the modern idea of law where every individual is treated as having the same legal
rights and protections, states came to be viewed as having an obligation to provide
necessary assistance to those members of the population who could not afford due legal
representation in the judicial process. Such a state duty was largely influenced by the
concept of the welfare state where the government should provide social services for
Throughout the 1960s, many other public activities and state measures were duplicated
around the world to implement the notion of access to justice. For instance, Germany
and England were the first countries that provided free legal representation to the poor
in 1919 and 1949 respectively. In the United States in 1965 the Legal Aid Service
program was introduced. Sweden follows by issuing its "public legal aid law" in 1972.
In addition, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands also responded to the access to
justice trend by amending their laws to make it the state's responsibility to give
appropriate compensation to public defenders to encourage voluntarism from the legal
community to provide legal services to the poor in the spirit of the legal aid program.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The challenges of access to justice have always been there since time immemorial.
Especially at the present time, in due course of a globalized life, it is inevitable that
different people mingle or associate themselves one another for different reasons and
thereby face different legal problems. Though there might be different varieties and
magnitudes of legal problems faced by citizens of a nation, basically, the legal needs
and the challenges that have to be overcome to remedy them, in rural communities like
those in the Arsi zone of the Oromia Regional State will be quite dissimilar to its
counterpart in urban or suburban communities. However, regardless of their
geographical placement, in both types of legal problems or disputes encountered (urban
or rural) there are equally important and pressing needs of society to alleviate them
(either formally or informally) or otherwise if let unsettled they will have deep impact
on everyday life.
In line with this, if one defines, access to justice as a commonly applied process (mostly
formal) that people address in order to cope up with their legal problems; the challenges
associated with the course of accessing justice (formal or informal) are sorted as the
challenges of access to justice. In this regard, the challenges encountered by a disputant
in due course of accessing a court procedure in the Arsi Zone of the Oromia Region can
be taken as an obvious example of the subject matters of this research work. These
challenges mentioned above, that have to be overcome by a person who faced legal
problems, are numerous, of many types, and are related with various other, background
factors. Otherwise stipulated, we are not simply talking about those faced once a
claimant has reached the court. Rather, the challenges may begin from the home of that
particular person or the various personal factors related with him or her to properly
access justice institutions. For instance, the beginning of the path to access justice, in
the first place, may be to know where to go when one faces legal problems. This in turn
may depend on different factors such as literacy of that individual, his culture, distance,
and ways of life and so on. To finally be able to pass all this problems, reach to the
court, present his claim and get a proper court verdict (still being the other integral
segments of the challenges of access to justice) being another thing.
It is only prudent to mention that the idea that led the author to this research came from
the recommendations of judges and legal practitioners during an informal visit in local
courts in the study area. Access to justice in these areas is blocked by a number of
factors. Firstly, the fact that all researches on this subject never cross the comfort of
urban reality makes it difficult for policy makers to come up with any tangible solutions.
In addition, preliminary studies suggest factors like lack of qualified man power,
budget, law moral, corruption, and the public's attitude and understanding of the justice
system as major contributors of the problem. For many university graduates, the
prospect of leaving the comfort of city life and working in rural areas with the available
financial incentive seems to be undesirable. Furthermore, for many legal professionals
the justice system and mainly the Judiciary are used as a spring-board of young alumni
to acquire experience before joining the private sector.
In addition, if there is one problem that epitomizes of all legal sectors is the lack of
budget. Moreover, the there is a huge congestion and backlogs of cases. According to
official reports, the average time to decide a case at the first instance court is around 6
months, which appeals taking an additional 1-2 years. This time can expand
significantly, however, for more complicated cases. A visit to a prison tells the whole
story. Prisons are overcrowded. Roughly speaking half of the prisoners have not been
sentenced. Some are waiting a long time already for a court decision. By law this should
happen within fourteen days. In practice, this may take months and sometimes years
due to the backlog at prosecutors' offices. Some are held in prisons pending further
investigation requested by the prosecution. Here again the case may take weeks or
months before an answer is sent to the prosecutor and the investigation can thus be
Finally, the gap between the law and practice has hindered access to justice. The law is
often uncertain because of delays in consolidation, lack of codification and imperfect
knowledge of proclamations and courts decisions by the practitioners. But even when
the law is known, it is not often strictly implemented. Rules of procedure are ignored.
In criminal cases, this leads for instance to suspects being kept in prison far beyond the
legal maximum period of fourteen days, sometimes for a very long time. Faulty
implementation of the law by judges, the Prosecution Service and the police amounts,
in some cases, to a denial of justice, procedural confusion and opens the door to
1.3 Objective of the Study
General Objective: the general objective of this research is identifying the real barriers
or challenges which people in the selected areas of Arsi zone face in due course of
accessing the Justice Institutions.
Specific Objectives: the following are the specific objectives of the study:
- To assess the gaps in the laws affecting the right of access to justice.
- To identify the role of the different stakeholders (i.e., the government, judiciary,
lawyers, and society) in the promotion of access to justice.
- To Pin point possible solutions which help to tackle the problems appearing as
barriers of access to justice.
1.4 Significance of the Study
The significance of this research should be seen in light of the beneficiaries i.e., the
providers of justice, policy makers, and users of justice. Providers of justice should be
interested since the research provides a detailed description of the methodology for
measuring the costs and quality of access to justice and the current statues of such in
the study area. Different categories of providers of justice could be benefited - courts,
justice offices, prison administrations, CSOs, police stations, victim support
organizations, and so on.
Policy makers might find it useful to learn how to measure access to justice and the
reality on the ground. Public resources are scarce and, often times, the policies must
strike a balance between what is desirable and what is possible. Measuring the cost and
quality of access to justice could be used for the drafting and implementation of
evidence-based policies directed towards resolution of the disputes in a society.
Ministries of justice, judicial councils, and similar institutions formulate and implement
the national policies in the fled of justice are good examples of beneficiaries.
Finally, users of justice or the people of the study area could find practical advice on
how to gauge and analyze their experiences of the justice system in a systemic manner.
Ultimately, the objective of this research is to come up with recommendation on how
to improve the problems of access to justice in the study area. Therefore, this research
could be a stepping stone to further action by all interested parties including the public.
1.5 Scope or Delimitation of the Study
This research is, in effect, delimited to study the challenges of access to justice in the
Arsi zone of the Oromia Regional State. Hence, it will not be the concern of this study
to deal with issues other than the challenges of access to justice and outside the
mentioned zone. Geographically delimited, this research emphasizes only on the Arsi
zone of the Oromia Regional State with particular emphasis to the weredas of Munesa,
Shirka, Arsi Robe, Sude, and Tena.
Accordingly, Arsi is one of the zones of the Oromia Region in Ethiopia. Arsi is also the
name of a former province. Arsi is bordered on the south by Bale, on the southwest by
the West Arsi Zone, on the northwest by East Shewa, on the north by the Afar Region
and on the east by West Hararghe. The administrative center of this zone is in the town
of Asella. Other towns in this zone include Abomsa, Assasa, Bokoji, Sagure, Kersa,
Dhera, Etaya, Arsi Robe, Huruta etc. The following are the weredas found in the Arsi
zone: Amigna, Aseko, Assela, Robe, Sire, Sherka, Bale Gasegar, Seru, Tena, Sude,
Gololcha, Merti, Guna, Jeju, Chole, Munesa, Hitosa and so on.
Arsi Zone is found in the central part of the Oromia National Regional State. The zone
astronomically lies between 60 45' N to 80 58`N and 380 32 E to 400 50' E. It shares
borderlines with the Regional State of Nations, Nationalities and People of Southern
Ethiopia and also shares borderlines with East Shewa, Bale and West Hararge Zones.
The total length of the boundary line is about 1050km. The Zone has the longest
borderline of 450km with East Shewa Zone accounting about 43 percent of its total
boundary length. It has the second longest line (350km) with Bale Zone. It shares the
least borderline (43km) with the Regional State of Nations, Nationalities and People of
Southern Ethiopia. Assela is the capital town of the Zone. It is located at 175 km from
Finfinne on Finfinne-Adama-Bale Robe main road. Also Assela is located at 75 km
south of Adama town. Having the total area of 23881 Km2, it accounts for about 7
percent of the total area of the Regional State of Oromia.
1.6 Research Methodology and Methods of Analysis
A. Targeted Institutions and persons
To examine the extent of the problem of access to justice, the targeted institutions and
persons should include firstly the Courts followed by other stockholders in the justice
system including the public prosecutor, the justice offices lawyers, the police and the
clients at large. To this end, the researcher intends to include the Wereda Courts in
Munesa, Shirka, Arsi Robe, Sude and Tena. In addition, the public prosecutor's office
or justice office and police of these areas will be the subject of the research. In terms of
the targeted population the public at large who is the user of the justice service in the
mentioned weredas is included in this study.
B. Sources of Data
In order to get reliable and valid information, the researcher will use both primary and
secondary data. The primary data will be collected through questionnaire, observation
checklist, and key informant interview with selected individuals and officials.
Secondary data will be collected from published, unpublished documents, annual
reports, journal articles, books, newspapers, and other web related materials. In
addition, the researchers will utilize proclamations, regulations, directives, foreign
legislations and cases.
C. Data Collection Instruments
In order to accomplish the intended research work, the researchers will employ three
instruments of data collection methods (questionnaire, interview and observation).
Multiple instruments of data collection are used to overcome the short coming of each.
D. Methods of Data Analysis
The data which is collected from primary and secondary sources will be analyzed,
summarized and presented both through quantitative and qualitative methods of data
analysis. Data which is collected through questionnaire will be analyzed, summarized
the data which is gathered through interview, observation and some of open ended
questions from questionnaire parts will be analyzed qualitatively.
These being the main elements to identify the challenges of access to justice, the
researcher also tried to employ internationally set standards (by country best practice
models) to measure the subject matter of this study in the study area. Basically, access
to justice is an issue subjected to an international exposure which is not only the
problem of countries like Ethiopia but also the developed ones. Hence, the researcher,
by using various tools of gathering information, tried to measure the challenges of
access to justice, by conducting Holistic measurement of access to justice in the study
area, by taking in to consideration international requirements to measure access to
Review of Related Literature
2.1 Definition and Conceptual Analysis of Access to Justice
Access to justice as a notion seems an easy concept to define. However, as has been
repeatedly observed from literature, though not illusive per se, it is very difficult to
quantify or coin an objective or full-fledged definition for the notion access to justice.
Simultaneously, this does not also imply that access to justice is a concept that has,
absolutely, run out of a definition. Accordingly, it will be the main purpose of this
chapter to deal with the various definitions of access to justice coined from various
perspectives by different scholars, laws, dictionaries and so on.
Access to justice, when defined in a literal parlance, is the outcome of the summation
of two words, which are "access" and "justice". According to the lexical definition of
these words, the term "access" implies an opportunity or ability to enter, pass to and
from, or communicates with something whereas, the term "justice" refers to the fair and
proper administration of laws. Hence, the cumulative definition of both words convey
the meaning that access to justice is the ability to communicate with the institutions that
are destined to properly and fairly administer justice- Courts of law.
In line with the above definition, the meaning of the term access to justice is intricately
intertwined with the meaning of the term "justice". On its turn, the definition of justice
depends on the context it is being used. For every society the term has a different
significance. For some it may be fairness whereas others might term it as advantage of
the stronger. The notion of justice evokes the cognition of the rule of law, of the
resolution of conflicts, of institutions that make law and of those who enforce it; it
expresses fairness and the implicit recognition of the principle of equality.
However, a concept common to all definitions of justice is its intrinsic nexus with the
dispute resolution. The primary goal of a dispute resolution mechanism is to do justice,
yet dispute resolution and justice cannot be used interchangeably. The dispute
resolution mechanism chosen by a society reflects the concept of justice in that society.
Bryan A. Garner, Black's Law Dictionary seventh edition, ST. Paul MINN Publishers., 1999
Health and Access to Justice, PP. 2-3.
In the common parlance, the term "access to justice" is used synonymously with the
access to dispute resolution mechanisms provided by the State. Earlier, a right of access
to judicial protection meant essentially the aggrieved individual`s formal right to litigate
or defend a claim. The rationale given for such narrow approach to access to justice
was that though access to justice was a natural right, natural rights did not require
affirmative state action.
However, in the recent theories, with the emergence of the welfare state, the right to
access to justice has gained grounds. Thus from a passive right, the right to access to
justice has become an effective right wherein not only the right to litigate or defend a
claim, but also the right to access such forums and have parity of power with the other
litigants. However one should not confuse access to justice with access to courts only.
First, that it is the police and other public officials who are seen as the face of justice
rather than the courts. For most people, access to justice is not the same as access to
courts. For small disputes and disturbances people are likely to seek settlement from
the police in the first instance. If we are to talk seriously about access to justice we must
discuss access to an entire justice system - police, prisons, prosecution, and service of
process, adjudication, ADR, and enforcement of judgments - that is fair and efficient.
The concept of 'access to justice' has two significant components. First is a strong and
effective legal system with rights, enumerated and supported by substantive
legislations. Other is a useful and accessible judicial or remedial system easily available
to the litigant public.
The concept of access to justice, primarily, necessitates a potential system securing
appropriate legal remedies within the Civil and Criminal justice fields. Judiciary, being
an integral part and parcel of an effective judicial system, has a greater role in ensuring
access to justice. As per V.R. Krishna Iyer, the former Judge of the Supreme Court of
India, access to justice, which is fundamental in implementation of every human right,
makes the judicial role pivotal to constitutional functionalism.
According to a scholar named Ani Comfort Chinyere, Access to justice refers to the
substantive and procedural mechanisms existing in any particular society designed to
ensure that citizens have the opportunity of seeking redress for the violation of their
legal rights within the legal system. The scholar further emphasized that, access to
justice focuses on the existing rules and procedures to be used by citizens to approach
the courts for the determination of their civil rights and obligations.
In addition, the scholar further mentioned that, it may also be considered as the ability
of people from disadvantaged groups to prevent and overcome human poverty by
seeking and obtaining a remedy, through the justice system, for grievances in
accordance with human rights principles and standards. The scholar finally added a
point that one of the prerequisites of a system that assures access to justice is that the
judiciary must be independent. An independent judiciary is the most effective guarantee
that society has for ensuring constitutionalism, individual rights, law, order, and
From the perspective of social development access to justice can be defined as, the term
used to denote the institutional and social conditions for the realization of rights.
Besides, in international security and development policy, the term is used in various
ways as a guiding principle for "good law" and "good justice," and, for actors in these
sectors, it has assumed central importance in their concepts and programs.
Per the dictations of the sociological perspective, which has been expanded through a
legal, cross-cultural perspective of access to justice, Access to justice has taken on a
broader meaning. Accordingly, regarding access to the courts and improvement of
judicial conflict resolution, the term refers to the institutional side of realizing justice,
and thus to the rights of the individual and the necessary preconditions for assuring
them. In practice, this also includes having a sufficient number of courts, appropriate
duration of proceedings, education and training for judges, and education of the public
about legal rights.
Still, regarding access to justice and an appropriate law, the term `Access to Justice'
refers not only to the internal legality of formal justice but also to the justice that is
Ani Comfort Chinyere, Access to justice in the Nigerian Civil and Criminal Justice systems, Centre
for Conflict and Dispute Resolution, Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, PP. 1-2
United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Access to Justice. Practice Note, 2004, Page 3.
Ebd. S.a. Access to Justice in sub-Saharan Africa: The role of traditional and informal justice
systems, Penal Reform International, (2000), Page 21.
expressed in the normative order of each society and that shapes its practices and forms
a normative ideal parallel to the law. In terms of this second meaning, the deficit
injustice appears ever greater to the extent that the evaluations and decisions made with
reference to the standards of the law deviate more and more from the ideas of justice
shared by the community.
In its 2004 Practice Note "Access to Justice", the United Nations Development Program
referred to the following two definitions of this term as seen by the international donor
The first definition narrates that:
Access to Justice is a basic human right as well as an indispensable means to
combat poverty, prevent and resolve conflicts.
Per the above definition, to the extent that the notion of Access to Justice establishes a
human right, its promotion is a goal of international engagement in its own right. To
the extent that it is viewed as a structural precondition for development, it constitutes a
milestone. In this sense, Access to Justice stands for a reform of the law and justice
sector, which must consider, in addition to penal law, people's civil claims against one
another and also the area of legal protection from the state. For this reason, it is in no
case sufficient to merely consider the institutional side.
The second definition, among other things emphasizes on the efficiency or quality of
services provided by the courts in that:
Access to justice is ... much more than improving an individual's access to
courts, or guaranteeing legal representation. It must be defined in terms of
ensuring that legal and judicial outcomes are just and equitable.
On the other hand, the term access to justice does not only refer to an access to the
formal system of dispute settlement but also the access to the informal or extra-judicial
mechanisms of dispute settlement. In an endeavor to emphasize on the access to justice
to the informal system, the Guiding Principles for Stabilization and Reconstruction
World Bank, World Development Report 2011: Conflict, Security, and Development, P. 147.
United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Access to Justice. Practice Note, 2004, P. 3.
disseminated by the United States Institute for Peace (USIP), Access to Justice as
Access to Justice is a condition in which people are able to seek and obtain a
remedy for grievances through formal or informal institutions of justice that
conform with international human rights standards, and a system exists to
ensure equal and effective application of the law, procedural fairness, and
From the perspective of the importance of access to justice to the society and in a way
providing an otherwise definition, Mr. Matthias Kötter, defined the concept as:
There is no access to justice where citizens (especially marginalized groups)
fear the system, see it as alien, and do not access it; where the justice system is
financially inaccessible; where individuals have no lawyers; where they do not
have information or knowledge of rights; or where there is a weak justice
system. Access to justice involves normative legal protection, legal awareness,
legal aid and counsel, adjudication, enforcement, and civil society oversight.
Access to justice supports sustainable peace by affording the population a more
attractive alternative to violence in resolving personal and political disputes.
In another dimension of the concept, as the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty
and human rights observes `access to justice' does not simply correlate with the ability
to invoke one's rights, it also encompasses the substance of those rights. In this regard
the document states that:
[M]any laws are inherently biased against persons living in poverty, do not
recognize or prioritize the abuses they regularly suffer, or have a
disproportionately harsh impact on them...
For example, in many legal systems, economic, social and cultural rights are
not sufficiently protected, and discrimination on the grounds of socioeconomic
situation is not recognized. Similarly, issues such as abuses in the informal
USIP, Guiding Principles for Stabilization and Reconstruction, (2009) P. 7-65.
Matthias Kötter, Better Access To Justice By Public Recognition of Non-State Justice Systems?,
Max Planck Institute for European Legal History, research paper series No. 2015-02, PP. 7-8
employment sector or the exploitation of tenants by landlords, all of which
disproportionately affect persons living in poverty, are often not legislated
against in an effective manner. Meanwhile, actions which are undertaken by
persons living in poverty out of necessity, such as sleeping in public spaces or
street vending, are criminalized. Hence, reforms aimed at improving access to
justice by the poor must not neglect the need to modify or repeal certain laws
or strengthen others.
As per the traditional (the narrow view) understanding of access to justice, courts are
the central `suppliers' of justice. To some extent that remains true. Courts are ultimately
the arbiters of legal issues, able to declare what the law is, what the rights and
obligations of parties are and enforce those declarations.
Accordingly, access to justice is seen, among other things, as:
(1) Equal access to legal services (that is, lawyers and legal aid) and courts. It
should be achieved by providing financial assistance and other legal aid
(2) Correcting structural inequalities within the justice system; that is, changing
the law, court procedures and legal practice to make access to justice more
meaningful. This includes, for example, changing court procedure to make it
less traumatic for victims. It also includes improving court processes for
resolving disputes- streamlining the civil litigation system. Also `de-mystifying'
the law through, for example, plain language drafting and community legal
(3) An emphasis on informal justice and its importance in preventing disputes from
occurring and escalating- including greater use of non-adversarial
alternatives to legal justice, such as alternative dispute resolution (ADR).
Mr. Omar Kalinge-Nnyago, on his part expressed access to justice from the dimension
of international law as, the term Access to Justice is not defined in international law
Report of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, A/67/278 (2012), paragraphs
28 and 29. As quoted in Liam Thornton and Judy Walsh, The ECHR, Socio-Economic Disadvantage
and Access to Justice, Page 1.
A Report on A Strategic Framework for Access to Justice in the Federal Civil Justice System,
(2009), ISBN 978 1 921241 91, pp 5-12.
and has been used in different ways in different contexts. Traditionally, the term refers
to opening up the formal systems and structures of the law to disadvantaged groups in
society. This includes removing legal and financial barriers, but also social barriers such
as language, lack of knowledge of legal rights and intimidation by the law and legal
institutions. According to his view, Access to justice has, thus, two dimensions:
procedural access (having a fair hearing before a tribunal) and also substantive justice
(to receive a fair and just remedy for a violation of one's rights). Further, protection of
rights must continue through all stages of the legal process, from the time of reporting
a crime to the police, to following the grant of a remedy by the court to make certain
that it is enforced.
In another scholarly definition, Mr. Nlerums Okogbule tried to express the concept
from two perspectives- the narrow and the wider senses. According to him, in the
narrow sense of the term, it can be said to be co-extensive with access to the law courts
while in the wider connotation it embraces access to the political order, and the benefits
accruing from the social and economic developments in the state. Furthermore, he
argued that, generally speaking, access to justice implies access to social and
distributive justice. It is however important to underscore the point that, these
perspectives are not necessarily disconnected since the extent to which one can have
distributive justice in any system is largely determined by the level and effectiveness
of social justice in the country. The consequence of this is that any discussion of one
aspect of the concept will necessarily entail a reference to one or more components of
the other. This is because without access to justice, it is impossible to enjoy and ensure
the realization of any other right, whether civil, political or economic.
From this idea of the scholar, one may therefore say that access to justice simply refers
to the substantive and procedural mechanisms existing in any particular society
designed to ensure that citizens have the opportunity of seeking redress for the violation
of their legal rights within that legal system. It focuses on the existing rules and
Omar Kalinge-Nnyago, Access to Justice in Muslim Informal Justice Centers, Baseline Survey
Report Kampala and Butambala Districts Uganda, Muslim Centre for Justice and Law, (2012), Page
Nlerum S. Okogbule, Access to Justice and Human Rights Protection in Nigeria: Problems and
Prospects, page 2-3.
procedures to be used by citizens to approach the courts for the determination of their
civil rights and obligations.
Additionally, the scholar further illustrated that while one tries to understand the
concept of access to justice, she or he should consider that access to justice is not limited
to the procedural mechanism for the resolution of disputes but includes other variables
like the physical conditions of the premises where justice is dispensed, the quality of
the human and material resources available thereat, the quality of justice delivered, the
time it takes for the delivery of justice, the moral quality of the dispenser of justice, the
observance of the general principles of the rule of law, the affordability of the cost of
seeking justice in terms of time and money, the quality of the legal advisers that assist
the litigants, the incorruptibility and impartiality of operators of the system.
Therefore, it is apparent from the above definition that access to justice is a charged
concept that embraces the nature, mechanism and even the quality of justice obtainable
in a society as well as the place of the individual within this judicial matrix. In line with
this, it is also important to underscore the fact that access to justice is undeniably an
important barometer for assessing not only the rule of law in any society but also the
quality of governance in that society. This brings to focus the present refrain about
transparency, accountability and good governance as an effective panacea for socio-
While quantifying the relationship as between justice and an access to it, the scholar
further argued that, while justice itself is an elusive concept, it can loosely be said that
it implies equity and fairness; and for there to be meaningful access to justice, there
must be some element of fairness and equity in a system to guarantee the realization of
basic fundamental rights. Moreover, to enhance access to justice in any society it is
necessary for certain basic infrastructures to be put in place and the requisite number
and quality of the personnel involved in the scheme. For instance, where the courts are
not sufficiently manned, or manned by men and women who are morally depraved, then
such a State can hardly guarantee social justice to its citizens. Indeed, corrupt judicial
officers may very well act as serious impediments to the attainment of justice even
where the infrastructures and legal instruments are well-wrought and structured.
According to another scholarly view, making justice more accessible means to improve,
assist and develop individual and group access to law and justice which supports
economic and social development. It must give the poor the opportunity to assert their
rights without their economic status or lack of financial capability hindering them to be
heard or even just approach any branch or instrumentality of the government under the
justice system. Increasing accessibility to courts lessens and overcomes the economic,
psychological, informational and physical barriers faced by women, indigenous
populations, and other individuals who need its services.
In line with this, access to justice encompasses three major components: convenience,
availability and affordability. Convenience is not limited to the "ease in physically
reaching the starting point of service and in receiving the necessary service". It's also
when one's time and efforts are not wasted due to long lines, delays, cancelations of
proceedings etc. and too much requirements plus facilities and instrumentalities that
needed renovation and replacement long time ago. Availability means the presence of
proper courts near the complainant's or plaintiff's place or the geographical proximity
and accessibility of service and of lawyers. Affordability is another because justice
system mustn't be cost prohibitive. Moreover, access to justice involves the right to be
effectively heard, and there's also the aspect of trust whether the judge is known to be
just or corrupt, or whether they believe that true justice will be served by any
Mr. Justice Brennan has explained the consequences of lack of access to justice in the
following quotation as:
Nothing rankles more in the human heart than a brooding sense of injustice.
Illness we can put up with. But, injustice makes us want to pull things down.
When, only the rich can enjoy the law, as a doubtful luxury, and the poor, who
need it most, cannot have it, because, its expense puts it beyond their reach, the
Erika Mae U. Gumabol, Justice for all: is the Action Program for Judicial Reform Effective in
Contributing to Better Access to Justice by the Poor? University of the Philippines Manila College of
Arts and Sciences, PS 153: Judicial Law, PP. 4-7.
threat to the continued existence of free democracy is not imaginary but very
real, because democracy's very life depends upon making the machinery of
justice so effective that every citizen shall believe in and benefit by its
impartiality and fairness.
A study published by scholars, Julinda Beqiraj, Justine Stefanelli, and Naina Patel states
that, Access to justice means, that, citizens are able to use justice institutions to obtain
solutions to their common justice problems. For access to justice to exist, justice
institutions must function effectively to provide fair solutions to citizens' justice
Every justice system should provide citizens with access to justice. Access
to justice means, that, citizens are able to use justice institutions to obtain solutions to
their common justice problems. Unless citizens can do this, the rights enshrined in laws
and constitutions are meaningless. For access to justice to exist, justice institutions must
function effectively to provide fair solutions to citizens' justice problems.
scholars further stated that, Access to justice is an evolving concept that includes the
following elements: The ability to gain access to forums in which matters of rights and
law are adjudicated or otherwise processed. Judicial, administrative and other justice
institutions are of no use to persons who cannot get through the doors of a courthouse
or another forum. Laws are just words if not enforceable. Ensuring access to justice
serves two complementary overarching purposes. First, access to justice is an
indispensable means of addressing injustices where they occur. For this to hold true,
the system should be equally accessible to all and should lead to results that are
individually and socially just. Secondly, guaranteeing access to justice for all groups of
society, can serve the purpose of preventing injustices from arising in the first place.
Improving access to justice is generally among the core objectives of any legal system
and a central one in the context of legal reforms. Nevertheless, a typical legislator does
not normally provide a definition of access to justice and this can increase the challenge
of identifying minimum threshold levels of access to justice in the context of particular
The scholars further argued that a comprehensive concept of access
Mr. Justice Brennan, Access to Justice- Constitutional Dimensions, page 2.
Justine Stefanelli, and Naina Patel, Measuring policy on access to justice and
taxation in the United Kingdom, Bingham Centre Report 2015/01, March 2015, Page 9.
to justice should cover different stages of the process of obtaining a solution to civil,
criminal or administrative justice problems. The concept begins with free access to
information about the existence of rights enshrined in laws, which are ideally simple
and understandable to the public. It then continues on to reflect the availability of, and
access to, legal advice and representation, and access to complaints and dispute
resolution mechanisms. Finally, the notion of effective access to justice extends to
include the ability of such mechanisms to provide fair, impartial and enforceable
solutions to legal problems.
Access to justice refers to the ability of people, in particular people from disadvantaged
groups to seek legal remedy through formal and informal justice systems consistent
with human rights principles. Although, the informal and traditional mechanisms of
justice are often more accessible for the disadvantaged people, informal justice systems
can be less effective and often violate international human rights standards, such as
gender equality, non-discriminatory treatment, and respect for the right to justice on the
part of the defendant. Traditional and informal mechanisms of justices are more
prevalent in developing countries. While many people rely on the informal justice
mechanisms, the formal justice system in some developing countries is also struggling
with critical impediments which affect users' perception of the justice system and in
turn, has an impact on people's reliance on the formal justices system.
As per the understanding of a Nigerian Scholar, the notion Access to Justice refers to
the substantive and procedural mechanisms existing in any particular society designed
to ensure that citizens have the opportunity of seeking redress for the violation of their
legal rights within the legal system.
The definition conveys the message that the notion focuses on the existing rules and
procedures to be used by citizens to approach the courts for the determination of their
civil rights and obligations. Of course by the existing rules and procedures the scholar
Women's access to justice, problems and challenges, Women and Children Legal, Research
Foundation (WCLRF), 2008, P. 4-6.
Ani Comfort Chinyere, Access to justice in the Nigerian Civil and Criminal Justice systems, Centre
for Conflict and Dispute Resolution, Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies,
, PP. 1-2
seems to refer to the major components of the formal justice systems such as the courts,
the police and the state penitentiary system.
The same scholar has tried to define the same concept from the view point of the
peoples' ability to access the justice institutions as,
Access to justice may also be considered as the ability of people from
disadvantaged groups to prevent and overcome human poverty by seeking and
obtaining a remedy, through the justice system, for grievances in accordance
with human rights principles and standards.
Here, one thing should be duly noted that, by the disadvantaged groups the scholar is
trying to refer to those groups of persons who are generally considered by existing
literature as vulnerable groups and in case of facing the challenges of access to justice
their situation becomes worse. Accordingly women, children and the elderly are typical
members of such group.
Furthermore, the scholar concludes his remark by adding the point that, one of the
prerequisites of a system that assures access to justice is that the judiciary must be
independent. An independent judiciary is the most effective guarantee that society has
for ensuring constitutionalism, individual rights, law, order, and stability.
As per the view of the UNDP, Access to Justice is the term used to denote the
institutional and social conditions for the realization of rights. In international security
and development policy, the term is used in various ways as a guiding principle for
"good law" and "good justice," and, for actors in these sectors, it has assumed central
importance in their concepts and programs. Newer approaches regarding access to
justice within the organization particularly emphasize on support for informal, non-
state justice systems and their integration into the super-ordinate legal system, mainly
in state law.
This definition of the concept seems an updated understanding of access to justice in
that it emphasizes not only on the role of the formal system of adjudication (which was
solely the case in the past) in assuring access to justice but also the pivotal role of the
United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Access to Justice. Practice Note, 2004, S. 3.
informal or extra-judicial system of dispute settlement, which are generally known as
alternative mechanisms of dispute settlement.
In addition to this the UNDP has tried to quantify the concept from the view point of
the Legal-sociological perspective and portrayed a broader meaning to it as,
The term access to the courts refers to the institutional side of realizing justice,
and thus to the rights of the individual and the necessary preconditions for
assuring them. In practice, this also includes having a sufficient number of
courts, appropriate duration of proceedings, education and training for judges,
and education of the public about legal rights.
The UNDP document further elaborates that the term `Access to Justice' refers not only
to the internal legality of formal justice but also to the justice that is expressed in the
normative order of each society and that shapes its practices and forms a normative
ideal parallel to the law.
In terms of this second meaning, the deficit in justice appears ever greater to the extent
that the evaluations and decisions made with reference to the standards of the law
deviate more and more from the ideas of justice shared by the community.
In the plans and programs of the World Bank, "justice" refers to the sum total of those
legal institutions whose purpose is to enable order and conflict resolution and thereby
promote economic development and the provision of public services, and also to enable
the participation of the individual.
For the "Justice for the Poor" program, which the World Bank has conducted since
2001, this is described as follows:
"Justice for the Poor is a World Bank program that engages with justice reform
as a cross-cutting issue in the practice of development, ... is an approach to
justice reform which sees justice from the perspective of the poor and
S. Deval Desai, Deborah Isser, Michael Woolcock, Rethinking Justice reform in Fragile and Conflict-
Affected States: The Capacity of development Agencies and Lessons from Liberia and Afghanistan, in:
The World Bank Legal Review, Vol. 3, International Financial Institutions and Global Legal
Governance, edited by Hassane Cissé, Daniel D. Bradlow, Benedict Kingsbury, The World Bank 2012,
marginalized, is grounded in social and cultural contexts, recognizes the
importance of demand in building equitable justice systems, and understands
justice as a cross-sectoral issue.
In its 2011 World Development Report, the World Bank made "justice" one of three
core priority areas - beside security and jobs - in which institutions should invest in
order to prevent a relapse into violence and to form the basis for an effective and
sustainable transformation beyond fragility and conflict.
The report sees non-state legal and justice systems playing an important role so long as
they can effectively manage conflicts at the local level and can be incorporated into a
super-ordinate architecture of law and justice.
In a way that encourages the harmonization of the combined efforts of both the formal
and informal actors of the justice system, the 2009 "Guiding Principles for Stabilization
and Reconstruction" disseminated by the United States Institute for Peace (USIP),
defined Access to Justice as, access to Justice is a condition in which people are able to
seek and obtain a remedy for grievances through formal or informal institutions of
justice that conform with international human rights standards, and a system exists to
ensure equal and effective application of the law, procedural fairness, and
The Guidelines further elaborates access to justice and it more particularly states that:
there is no access to justice where citizens (especially marginalized groups) fear the
system, see it as alien, and do not access it; where the justice system is financially
inaccessible; where individuals have no lawyers; where they do not have information
or knowledge of rights; or where there is a weak justice system. Access to justice
involves normative legal protection, legal awareness, legal aid and counsel,
adjudication, enforcement, and civil society oversight. Access to justice supports
sustainable peace by affording the population a more attractive alternative to violence
in resolving personal and political disputes.
World Bank, Justice for the Poor, Internet:
World Bank, World Development Report 2011: Conflict, Security, and Development, P. 147.
USIP, Guiding Principles for Stabilization and Reconstruction, 2009, PP. 7 - 65.
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