UNAMID Rule of Law recently organized training workshops for rural court judges in four Darfur states-- El Fasher, North Darfur; El Daein, East Darfur; Zalingei, Central Darfur; and El Geneina, West Darfur. Some 120 judges received training on Sudanese laws, legal procedures and techniques for conducting successful mediation of disputes. They were also given a copy of the Legal Hand book in Arabic published by UNAMID Rule of Law, in collaboration with Sudan judiciary.
This Handbook was conceived as a guidance manual for the Rural Court Judges working in Darfur localities which can be used as a legal reference text. This book contains different aspects of Sudan civil procedure laws, criminal procedures and elements of mediation all of which are crucial for rural court judges to do their work efficiently and effectively. The ‘Town and Rural Court Regulation 2004’ is also included as an Annexure to the Handbook, which was released by H. E the Chief Justice of Sudan.
Rural courts are extremely relevant across Darfur because the population invests a greater level of trust on traditional justice systems than formal justice mechanisms. Rural court judges are also community leaders in their respective localities who resolve disputes, including land issues, often through mediation and reconciliation, but they are not formally trained lawyers and lack legal knowledge.
UNAMID, within the context of its current mandate, is contributing to resolving land disputes by strengthening the capacity of rural courts to mitigate and mediate disputes on land and other conflict drivers.
Land ownership is one of the root causes of the decade-long conflict in Darfur, partly due to ill-defined land tenure systems and partly owing to the breakdown of the rule of law. According to the legal enactment of ‘Town and Rural Court Regulation 2004’ rural courts have jurisdiction over disputes regarding damage to farm or pasture land or livestock loss as well as cases related to disputes over land boundaries.