Access to Justice and Confidence Building in Kassala State

Fast Facts:
Project document and reports available upon request
Location: Kassala, Eastern Sudan
Duration: 2005 -Dec 2011
Focus area: Democratic Governance
Contributions(USD): NOR: 559,701.49
DFID: 202,805.61
Partners: Government of Kassala,
University of Kassala,
Police State Commissioner,
El Sharq Centre for Justice and Confidence,
Delivery(USD): 2010: 438,346
2009: 1,684,926
2008: 1,084,069
2007: 19,760
Contact person in UNDP: Noha Abdelgabar, Programme Officer,

Surayo.Buzurukova, Regional Programme Manager, East Region,
Eastern Sudan, a vast sun-blasted land of some 300,000 square kilometers, is home to an estimated three to four million of Sudan’s poorest people. The region is made up of three states: Red Sea, Gadaref and Kassala. In each of these states the living conditions are so harsh that the local population has been facing acute poverty, persistent drought and famine, a lack of adequate access to healthcare and education, high levels of unemployment in addition to land degradation and shrinking pasture areas, for a very long time. This state of affairs led to a low-intensity rebel insurgency over the past eleven years that was settled with the signing of the Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement (ESPA) in October 2006, between the Government of Sudan and the Eastern Front.

This breakthrough highlighted opportunities for peace-building, such as promoting development, social equity, and peace and reconciliation. As peace is sustained, the strenuous economic and social realities in this region have made it very difficult for the poor and marginalized segments of society to obtain affordable legal counseling and representation. This is mainly due to the lack of a network of lawyers to provide pro bono legal services for the poor. In fact, like many parts of Sudan, rule of law institutions in Kassala State, namely the judiciary, the prosecution, police and prison administration, are in need of institutional capacity building and training in order to improve the quality of their service delivery.

In addition, in Eastern Sudan, traditional administrative structures have played a crucial role in promoting the culture of rule of law and conflict transformation. However, these structures need to be adjusted to the realities of the 2006 ESPA. Their roles in fostering and nurturing the culture of rule of law and peaceful conflict resolution also need to be revitalized.

Moreover, the root causes of conflict in this part of the country are related to natural resources. Since Eastern Sudan’s population is predominantly rural, competition over scarce natural resources, such as water, land and grazing, is one of the causes of inter and intra tribal tension and sometimes conflicts. The presence of a significant number of arms and the unresolved issue of access to land, and equity in resource distribution, is another factor that makes this region prone to conflict.

The Strengthening Access to Justice and Confidence Building project in Kassala State is intended to strengthen access to justice and promote accountability of rule of law institutions in order to establish a solid foundation for development. The project includes police and prison infrastructure development and facilitation of access to justice for vulnerable groups, in particular IDPs and returnees. It supports civil society organisations and community-based organisations to create an environment that is conducive to sustainable peace and development based on the premise of rule of law.

In order to sustain peace by preventing conflict, UNDP established a presence in Kassala in October 2005 and launched the “Promoting Rule of Law and Peaceful Conflict Resolution in Eastern Sudan” project with the support of the Netherlands government, The European Commission and Norwegian embassy.

The overall objective of the project is to contribute to the peaceful resolution of conflict within the framework of the Interim National Constitution (INC), the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the Joint Assessment Mission (JAM) and the Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement (ESPA), to diffuse tensions in Eastern Sudan, while paving the way for long-term development.

To this end, the specific objectives of the project are:
• To strengthen access to justice and thus contribute to confidence building, to promote rule of law and human security;
• To enhance the capacity of state government, civil society and communities to resolve disputes amicably;
• To build the capacity of local officials and traditional leaders to develop and sustain a rule of law culture in Eastern Sudan; and
• To enhance the availability of legal information and resources on rule of law and conflict resolution for government officials, traditional leaders, students and the general public in Kassala State.

Snapshots of the project's major achievements
• Two hundred and thirty people empowered through trainings, workshops, and public forums on topics including ,community policing, basic computer skills; customary law, the Sudanese constitution, and violence against women,
• Establishment of the UNDP Justice and Confidence Centre (JCC) in Kassala; serving vulnerable people and communities and helping authorities become more effective and responsive.
• Strengthened the capacity of 32 paralegals in Kassala on social mobilisation, human rights, mediation of disputes, gender based violence and Sudan treaties.
• Two police stations reconstructed and furnished; and one prison renovated in Kassala State.
• Twenty-four awareness-raising events (trainings, seminars on human rights) conducted in all localities of Kassala State.
• Conducted the third in a series of training workshops for 25 senior and junior prison officers and professional service specialists of Kassala State. Topics included human rights and good prison management.
• Established a Legal Information and Resource Centre within the Kassala Community College.
• Supported four police training courses on community policing; human rights and the rule of law; crowd and riot control; forensics; self-defense; child and family protection, and basic computer skills. A total of 700 police officers received training.
• Established the Gender Based Violence Group in Kassala State.
• Sixteen-day campaign educating people about violence against women conducted in Red Sea and Kassala States.
• Six hundred posters and flyers produced and disseminated all over Kassala State in user-friendly formats.
• Enhanced the capacity of 30 judiciary and 25 court officers through trainings and seminars.
• Established a local safety committee to consult communities and stakeholders and draft local security plans for respective area.
• One hundred and seventy five clients (individual and communities) assisted with legal counseling, including 105 cases represented in court.
• Awareness raising campaign on the importance of formal education for girls and boys promoted in 10 localities of Kassala State.

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