An analysis of the 2015/16 National Budget allocations to justice delivery institutions does not match output in terms of access to justice for vulnerable groups such as women and children.
This was disclosed in Lilongwe yesterday when the Women’s Legal Resource Centre (Wolrec), an organisation which provides legal aid and assistance to women in Malawi, presented a policy brief to the Women’s Caucus of Parliament on its analysis of the budgetary allocations towards women’s access to justice.
The agencies whose funding was analysed in the study include the Legal Aid Bureau, the Judiciary and Malawi Police Service (MPS).
Wolrec executive director Maggie Kathewera Banda told the female members of Parliament (MPs) that the establishment of the Legal Aid Bureau and the 142 percent increase of its funding from K100 million to K220 million this year will actually result in a decrease in the number of civil cases which predominantly concern women.
Wolrec also observed that the Legal Aid Bureau planned to invest more funding in homicide cases compared to civil cases whose impact population are women and children and this would deny them much needed free legal services.
In the Judiciary, the operations funding shortfalls are worse at magistrate courts in districts as Wolrec discovered that districts of Nsanje, Balaka, Salima, Zomba, Dedza and Neno get as little as K50 000 in monthly funding, according to the brief.
Wolrec has since appealed to the Women’s Caucus to highlight these shortfalls at the Mid-Term Budget Review to lobby for increased funding to the Legal Aid Bureau, the Judiciary and MPS.
Women’s Caucus chairperson Jessie Kabwila said in the face of the glaring anomalies, Parliament would heighten its oversight role at the next meeting.