The challenge that the project addresses
Lack of access to justice generally.
1. In specific terms, one major challenge in accessing justice is that citizens generally need to travel to courts, lawyers, or public institutions to access court documents. But more to it, they do not understand how these documents can be filled in and used.
2. Delays in accessing justice or remedy for violation of rights: In 2019, C.Voule, a UN envoy visited Zimbabwe for an assessment of human rights situation and commented that there is a disturbing human rights abuse situation. In the first 3 months of 2020, more than 150 000 people had been arrested in human rights related situations. To access justice, people generally do not know what their rights are, what to do when violated, what to say when arrested, and who to quickly contact for legal assistance.
What is your project doing to respond to this challenge?
I registered a Legal-Tech startup called Courtlex Technologies. It is a platform where citizens and anyone who needs access to court documents can get access to court documents ranging from affidavits, summons, documents for maintenance, peace order, protection order applications etc. These documents come with explanations on how to use them in three local languages: Shona, English and Ndebele. These will soon be accessible on our WhatsApp chatbot. With regards to human rights, we have developed Astrea Justice, a human rights remedy mobile application which seeks to help Zimbabwean Communities access justice quicker and faster as well as empowering them with human rights knowledge.
In so doing, Astrea Justice has these functions:
1. YOUR RIGHTS AND WHAT TO DO: a collection of people’s civil and political, environmental, socio-economic, environmental, women and children’s rights as contained in the Constitution and other pieces of legislation and what to do when violated.
2. TO OFFICERS: Helps you know what to say and not say when arrested.
3. CALL NOW OR SEND SMS: Assist users to dial directly the number or send SMS for assistance.
4. FIND A LAWYER: helps you find any law firm or lawyer in Zimbabwe and their contact details.
5. POLICE CONTACTS: helps you find the contacts of any police post: rural or urban and their numbers.
6. FIND A COURT: helps users find courts-magistrate, high court, labour or any other court anywhere and their contact details.
7. ORGANISATIONS THAT CAN HELP: these are organizations that help with legal aid for free.
8. CHATBOT: this Artificial Intelligence System allows users to ask any question on Traffic, Family and Labour law issues and get legal answers as if they’re asking a lawyer.
Describe the project's impact
We have had more than 50 downloads of our mobile application and more than 100 people using our WhatsApp platform. Documents have been downloaded and by more than 50 people. These are statistics of impact we have had of users since early August 2021 when we launched without much marketing.