LSF Supports Use of Census Data in Access to Justice Programs
LSF chief executive Lulu Ng’wanakilala said the 2022 census data will thus provide the facility with a valuable resource to assist the legal sector in planning access to justice programs as well as in the provision of legal aid services.
He said the LSF has interventions that demonstrate new and innovative ways of data on how census data is used to improve service planning to better meet community justice needs.
“As the number of groups in need increases in the face of an age of restricted funding from government and development partners, LSF is keen to track census data to help the legal sector prudently align resources for legal services. legal assistance to vulnerable people who need it most,” she said in a statement.
LSF works to improve access to justice in mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar, particularly for the socially and economically disadvantaged.
“It has been doing this important work for more than 10 years starting in 2011. As such, LSF’s work has relied heavily on official national statistics relating to vulnerability and socio-economic conditions to inform its development programs. access to justice,” said Lulu.
LSF has treated millions of Tanzanians struggling with marital issues, child marriage, alimony and child abuse, property and inheritance for women and girls, work and employment, tenancy and discrimination against people with disabilities among many other community justice issues.
“Through the intervention of LSF, Tanzania has seen a massive expansion of paralegal services in rural and remote areas of the country with an even geographical distribution of these services.
Paralegals have offered a significant opportunity to reach remote and rural locations where the poor are severely limited in their access to justice. Paralegals have been able to reach large numbers of people in rural and remote areas and provide basic legal education, both formal and informal, in an easily understandable manner.
According to her, LSF interventions have also helped generate and document big data that is gradually being integrated into national statistical systems and used by researchers and stakeholders inside and outside Tanzania.
Explaining how PHC data informs access to justice programs, Lulu said that on the issue of illiteracy, the last five national censuses had illiteracy levels as a key indicator because Tanzania, like many other African countries, has struggled with low levels of literacy since independence.
Many researchers in Africa, including Tanzania, have cited illiteracy as an important reason for groups’ relative lack of access to justice.
Illiteracy is usually accompanied by a lack of information and as such, groups of people in this category do not understand information relating to the stipulations of the law on their rights as well as the assertion of rights through the courts. .
“Research and surveys on access to justice in Tanzania have established that illiterate people feel intimidated by formal legal systems like courts and prefer to engage only with informal systems.” Information from the previous census reveals that women constitute a key illiterate group compared to their male counterparts, with adult female illiteracy constituting over 60% in the previous census.
Previous census data also revealed that illiteracy is a high prevalence in rural areas, making it more difficult for the rural population to access justice.
On household income data, the LSF official said that household income information in the national census in the past has revealed that a significant portion of the Tanzanian population lives in extreme poverty. According to her, poverty represents a significant challenge to access to justice in Tanzania.
- The main obstacle posed by poverty is the inability to meet the costs of legal representation, and especially for women who are in the lowest income bracket, well below their male counterparts,” Lulu explained. .
The data revolution within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is a unique opportunity to strengthen the links between statistics and human rights.
A human rights-based approach to the data revolution in the SDG Agenda involves five pillars: disaggregating human rights and access to justice indicators, under which standards for human rights stipulated in international human rights instruments have prohibited discrimination in terms of income, sex, age, race, ethnic origin, migration status, disability, geographic and other characteristics relevant in national contexts. The prohibition of discrimination based on the above indicators is a constitutional guarantee under the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania and the Constitution of Zanzibar.
Thus, the statistical data produced by the national census helps to provide the actual number, location and situation of people in need of protection under these disaggregated human rights indicators.
Measuring the implementation of human rights standards is also another pillar, whereby the realization of human rights is achieved by ensuring the availability and accessibility of rights-related services such as health care, safe drinking water, universal education, improved prison conditions, etc.
Census data provides the basis for measuring the implementation of these human rights standards by establishing the extent of the availability and accessibility of these services for a most vulnerable group of the population on the basis of the principles of non-discrimination, equality, participation, access to justice and non-discrimination. violence.
It also facilitates the participation of rights-holders and stakeholders, which is now a major principle in human rights efforts – the first step, however, is to know exactly the different groups of rights-holders and the census data provides. such a basis. “From here, all government efforts must be carried out in collaboration with rights holders to meet their needs as a major pillar of human rights. For this reason, even the design of census questions in many countries now involves rights holders to ensure the capture of all relevant data. A good example is the involvement of representatives of persons with disabilities, women’s and girls’ rights advocates and health rights actors who have proven to work closely with government statistics offices. »
Data collection safeguards are also another pillar where the national census exercise itself may be subject to human rights abuses if a framework to ensure safeguards of human rights in the collection, the processing and dissemination of data is not legally provided for.
The international human rights system has established three major safeguards in the production of statistical data, namely data confidentiality, non-discrimination and self-identification. It is important to note that the human rights system exists to facilitate the production of reliable statistics.
In modern times, the official statistical system of any country is required to ensure and fully respect human rights standards such as the right to privacy, the right to be recorded and the rights of statisticians who have often been victimized in terms of their own safety. .
Strengthening accountability frameworks also aims to ensure the availability and accessibility of reliable data in the country’s official statistical system through means such as census, accountability frameworks can operate effectively and reliably.
The availability of robust data helps to measure the link between the country’s commitment to human rights through legal and institutional frameworks, efforts to honor commitments through policy implementation, and results for people. affected populations using multiple sources of data such as statistical surveys, administrative records, big data, interventions of civil society organizations and human rights mechanisms available at national, regional and global levels.
According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), human rights are correlated with the availability of reliable official statistics. The United Nations Human Rights Office notes that the past decade has witnessed an increasing demand for statistical information from human rights fields, including international human rights mechanisms, states and civil society.
National and international efforts increasingly use disaggregated statistics, indicators, targets and other criteria to enable more systematic measurement and implementation of human rights, standards and principles. .
Reliable data and statistics are a powerful tool for targeted advocacy, identifying gaps in the realization of human rights and creating a culture of accountability and transparency.