Legal empowerment & justice for all

Legal Services Facility (LSF) is a basket fund established in 2011 as a non-profit organization that strives to increase access to justice for all, in particular for women through a legal empowerment approach. The LSF channels its funding on an equal opportunity basis to organizations which provide legal aid and paralegal services on Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar.

Our Commitment

Promoting protection of human rights for all, with an emphasis on poor women, girls and other vulnerable groups. We enhance the availability, affordability, accessibility, and acceptability of quality legal aid services through paralegals and other legal aid providers.

LSF works closely with the government of Tanzania at all levels, development partners, organizations involved in the provision of legal aid, including paralegal services and other like-minded stakeholders.

We are inspired by our vision and guided by our mission

Vision
A Tanzanian society in which all people are equal and have access to justice.

Mission
Promote and protect human rights through legal, social, economic empowerment and civic engagement, in particular for women.

Our Values
Human rights and justice

This part is supposed to explain in a sentence what the above value means to us. When we clarify our values people know what exactly we mean.

Transparency & Accountability

This part is supposed to explain in a sentence what the above value means to us. When we clarify our values people know what exactly we mean.

Sustainability

This part is supposed to explain in a sentence what the above value means to us. When we clarify our values people know what exactly we mean.

Cooperation and partnership

This part is supposed to explain in a sentence what the above value means to us. When we clarify our values people know what exactly we mean.

Equity

This part is supposed to explain in a sentence what the above value means to us. When we clarify our values people know what exactly we mean.

We strive to increase justice for all, particularly for women.

Key issues we address

Urban growth in Tanzania accelerates. The present rural: urban population ratio, is in the range of 65:35 and may pass the 50:50 mark by 2025. It is therefore timely that more attention is paid to the specific requirements for effective urban legal aid and legal empowerment.

A recent small survey indicated that urban dwellers in Dar es Salaam on average spend almost TShs 500,000 (USD 230) to seek and further pursue free legal aid services. This is around 5 times more than rural men who seek and obtain legal services and 8 times more than rural women. Legal aid in urban areas does not properly respond to the legal needs and purchasing power of the urban poor. An urban legal empowerment project has been piloted in Dar es Salaam metropolitan in all its districts. Lessons from this pilot will help in strategizing to expand to other major cities on Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar.

In almost all villages of Tanzania community members are occupying land in accordance with customary law. Most land ownership is male centered, women may have access to work the land but rarely become land owners.

According to customary regulations on land ownership of a clan in Muheza District, Tanga, a widow or child born outside wedlock is not allowed to inherit or own land.

Batuli Rajabu had a son from a previous relationship when she married Juma Shaliboko in February 2009. Shaliboko died in February 2013 and they had no child together. Following Shaliboko’s death, in accordance with the clan’s traditions, Batuli and her son were immediately cast out of their house and had to leave the land where they had been living with the late husband. Shaliboko’s siblings were keen to own the land and threatened to kill the widow and her mentally retarded son if they did not vacate the house and land.

Batuli moved to her sister’s house and unsuccessfully tried to reclaim her rights with the village land council and ward tribunal. Finally, Muheza paralegals properly documented the case and assisted her to present it to the District Land and Housing Tribunal and the judgment was in Batuli’s favor.

This was a turning point, not just for Batuli, but for all women of Muheza district. The judgment publicly showed that a woman’s right to land can be protected.

Tanzania’s Land laws Act and Village land Act of 1999 and Law of Marriage Act, 1971 allow women access to inheritance, including land for the widow. Cultural and religious customs often favor in-laws in inheritance cases, violating women’s rights. The Law stipulates that women and men have equal rights and access to property.

Half of all women in Tanzania experience GBV in their life. The 2010 Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey (TDHS) show that 39% of women experienced physical violence, while 20% experienced sexual violence in adult life. Among spousal acts slapping was most commonly reported by 36% of ever-married women, followed by being punched (18 %) and being pushed, shaken, or things thrown at them (16%). The TDHS shockingly indicated that more than half of women agree that the husband is justified to beat his wife in certain situations.

Fausta Marandu, aged 46, is a widow who lives in Babati district in Manyara region in Northern Tanzania. She lost her hands, one completely chopped off, after being attacked by her partner Mr. Migire, who she lived with after the death of her late husband few years ago. Veronica Mushi, a paralegal, got wind of the incident and quickly reported to the police. Helped by the paralegal, Fausta filed a case in court and Migire was found guilty and sentenced to seven years in jail. Fausta cannot eat, dress, bath, and can’t even open her house without help from her young children and neighbors. The poor widow has been crippled physically, economically, emotionally and things are not the same for Fausta anymore.

Poverty is a major contributing factor to the violation of human rights while, in turn, the violation of human rights exacerbates poverty, which is particularly true among most disadvantaged women in Tanzania.

In 2011, Maria Masungu was attending secondary school. During her holiday, she worked as a housemaid to raise funds for her school needs and that of the family. Maria was subjected to sexual exploitation by her employer and became pregnant and lost her job as a result. Maria gave birth to a baby girl with limited social and economic support, her former employer did not bother to provide any child maintenance.

Maria got help from paralegals in Iringa who secured her rights and that of the little one. Her former employer finally accepted his responsibility and catered for the child.

“To me this is a great help because I was not aware of where to get legal assistance, also I thought that my rights could not be attained due to the nature of the man who impregnated me. God bless Iringa Paralegal Centre” explained Maria”.

Wilgester and Milinga married in 1997. Before marriage, Milinga (husband) owned a plot of land in Temeke Municipal in Dar es Salaam. The couple built a house on the plot under Wilgester’s supervision. After completion of the house the couple moved into the house where they remained until 2008 when Milinga abandoned the family and moved in with another woman in the same house. Wilgester refused to get out of the house, claiming that it was matrimonial property. To justify his action, Milinga reported Wilgester to Yombo local government so that Wilgester would leave the property. Wilgester was ordered by the local government to leave the house. She was not satisfied with the order and in early 2009 decided to report to the church. However, Milinga never attended the mediation the church proposed.  She then went to the Yombo ward council where she was not assisted. After learning of the existence of paralegals and the TWCWC legal aid center in Temeke, Wilgester decided to present her case to the Centre in 2012.

Paralegals helped Wilgester to write legal documentation and open the case in Chang’ombe Primary Court. The judgment was heard in 2014 and resulted in Wilgester receiving a divorce. The certificate provided the proof of marriage and Wilgester received 30% of the value of property the couple had jointly owned. This case reflects the importance of having certification when claiming any rights.

Majority of clients served by paralegals have been denied their social economic rights such as right to work, land and inheritance rights particularly for women. Paralegals play a vital role in helping clients to secure their property rights, which have impacted their social and economic life.

Most of the issues resolved by paralegals helped clients toward a better economic situation for example starting small businesses, money to build houses and take care of the family

“I was denied by my husband to work anywhere, although he didn’t earn enough to cater for the family needs. I was helped by paralegals to convince him to change his mind”, says Shungi, a resident of Mbozi in Songwe region.

Shungi is now catering for the family needs, paying for children’s school needs, and has started building a new house. She has bought an incubator to start a poultry keeping business which will further increase their income. Shungi has also started a small business for her husband, something he never could imagine.

In the period 2012-2015 a limited number of partner organizations successfully implemented criminal legal aid projects which aimed to decrease the proportion of pre-trial detainees (PTDs) through paralegal work in prisons. Around 1,500 PTDs of 24 prisons were bailed out and 500 were acquitted.

LSF emphasizes the importance of criminal legal aid, which is not prominent on the agenda of legal aid providers. The focus will be on the largest prisons in the country, with inclusion of relevant police stations, which will add an important dimension to the approach.

Many PTDs end up in prison for minor crimes, because at police stations they are not alerted to, or don’t get collaboration to access the option of bail out. Ensuring paralegal presence at police stations, through paralegal desks or otherwise may help to address this problem.

LEGAL EMPOWERMENT

We believe all citizens deserve justice and we make that possible through legal empowerment.