Access to justice is more than improving an individual’s access to courts or guaranteeing legal representation.
Access to justice is defined as the ability of people to seek and obtain a remedy through formal or informal institutions of justice for grievances in compliance with human rights standards.
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
Restoring internal accountability mechanisms (such as methods for selecting customary justice authorities or ensuring the possibility of appeal) and training trial court justice authorities in mediation techniques and familiarizing them with domestic laws.
Promoting rights awareness or training community members or Judges toadvocate for women and marginalized groups
Encouraging the recording of cases and their resolution to promote consistency of decisions and to provide a basis for appeal to the formal system.
Improving linkages between the formal and informal systems on criminal matters in the short term and working out criteria for which PRI can deal with criminal matters and when they must refer them to the formal system.
Working with customary authorities, judiciary, prosecution, police, state actors, and civil society to incorporate restorative principles such as compensation and reconciliation, into cases dealt with by the formal justice system.
Working to mitigate harmful practices such as Honor killing, girl marriages, minority rights, rights of women, gender violence, crime against child, and many more.
With regard to the latter activity, top-down prohibitions tend to be ineffective and counterproductive.