Is Gavel the new disruptive civic tech organization in Nigeria's justice sector?

Do you wish to know how Gavel uses civic tech to creatively give access to justice and connect indigents with free legal aid lawyers and lots more ? I promise you that this will be worth your time.

Gavel (www.gavel.ng) is a civic tech organization that provides access to justice, tracks cases and foster open justice initiative in Nigeria.

How do we do this? We have various civic tech tools that helps in achieving the said objectives and engaging the public.

Justice Clock:

This is the tech tool we use to track time spent by awaiting trial persons in prison. It is no longer news that the number of awaiting trial inmates in Nigeria is appalling (close to 70%). While we track time spent by this people, we also give opportunity to connect with free legal aid lawyers via the platform. So we track the inmates’ time and also connect them with lawyers for help.

Timeline of Cases:

We create a time on cases we are tracking to inform the public about the cases and create social media engagements and advocacy for these cases. This year, we are also going to deploy it to track corruption cases and engage with the public to demand for speedy trial. Nigeria is known to have a slow justice delivery system with some corruption cases as old as 11 years.

Digitizing CauseList

It is said that what cannot be measured, reviewed and evaluated is difficult to change. We have commenced digitization of courts cause list. This will enable us measure performance of our court system, identify areas of inefficiency, recommend and advocate for an improved system. Although this is in it’s early stage, we have collaboration with over 30 court rooms that we make their activities open weekly. These cause lists, inter alia, afford people the opportunity to have prior knowledge of cases to be tried in court rooms, their status, which judge is presiding over the cases and lots more.

With a class action for over 538 awaiting trial inmates, over 13 release, over 5000 digitized cause lists and many more. I guess the disruption has begun.

Twitter @citizen_gavel

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Hi Nelson! Thanks for the post introducing our community to gavel.ng. The idea of tracking cases in public looks to be very interesting, and I am sure you are having to figure out many things as you move along with your initiative. We’d love to hear more about the learnings and successes, and also what you have learned from other countries and other settings to inspire and inform your approach. Do tell!

FYI: you do not need to cross post between categories here on the forum. Everyone will be able to access it. So I deleted the other post you wrote in the #paralegals category that is almost identical to this one.

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Ok. The first version of www.gavel.ng we built was less user friendly. People cannot directly lodge in their request for legal aid. So we had to upgrade that and a couple of other things.

As regards our success on “gavel”, we were able to get 13 inmates (3 were underaged) released (note we started gavel last year.) Also, we were able to file a class action for over 538 awaiting trial inmates that we ended up tracking with justice clock last year; hopefully judgement will be given in the first quarter of this year(2018).

Also, we were able to digitized over 5,000 cause list and publish last year.

In the year 2017, our infographics and other media contents on social media reached over 100,000 persons with lots of engagements.

The first year is often very challenging especially when you are introducing a new system. It is challenging working in a space that is accustomed to traditional ways of doing things. However, acceptance is on the increase and perceptions are changing. Oftentimes, I am amazed with the level of acceptance. Many times we receive great feedbacks (- these keep us going.)

Government institutions are relatively slow in catching up (lots of bureaucracy and issue with consistency) but they improving. Once you build relationships with them, they become more receptive.

In summary, it has been a cocktail mixed with excitement and challenges.

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At the last count, 47 lawyers in Nigeria signed up through our platform (gavel.ng) and they pledged to take at least one case annually pro bono. This will greatly improve our reach across the country and the opportunity to help more indigent persons.

We use gavel.ng to connect indigent persons with pro bono lawyers. While oftentimes in Nigeria, most of the indigents are not tech savvy, family members and friends who are do come to their aid.

Twitter @citizen_gavel

Call for Lawyers

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Thanks, @Nelson_Olanipekun! Super interesting to observe gavel.ng kicking off as a service for Nigeria. I moved this last topic of yours into a reply to your topic about gavel.ng, so we can keep the information about it together in one place. Do continue to keep us posted!

Recently, we secured another success for the 538 awaiting trial persons we are tracking their cases with Justice Clock (civic tech tool). Our motion to amend our court processes to reveal new revelations was granted by Court.

We are hopeful to get justice for these inmates as the government lawyers are already communicating to us their interest to charge the individuals affected to Court promptly.

IS ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE POSSIBLE IN NIGERIA’S JUSTICE SECTOR?

We are conducting a research on how we can turn data gathered from our Court system to effectively form the basis (database) of artificial intelligence in Nigeria.

For sometime now, we have been gathering information through cause lists and the following intelligence (pattern) can be gathered.

-Time an average case could last for in selected jurisdiction. -Which (type of case) are mostly filed. -What are possible factors that can mitigate against the pace of justice delivery. -How can those factors be foreseen and responded to.

Also, through the doctrine of “stare decisis” and precedents of cases, how can one use algorithms to possibly predict outcomes of cases.

While we are still in the early, we see possibilities and challenges. This will be a long and deep research we are willing to see through.

Twitter @citizen_gavel

#DataScience #DataMining #Artificialintellingence #training #researchimages (3)

How we use civic tech to provide access to justice:

Excellent idea Nelson, Congratulations and thank you for using technology in this way. I will share a bit about our work with communities using available technology and existing app.

  1. What’s app4Justice: this is a platform for all where people learn about rights and asks qustions. It is interactive in that case studies are shared and people can generate their thoughts and ideas on the story. A paralegal them responds to the issues highlighting the key violations and ways to go about responding to them. To join the platform, you would have to be on Facebook or any other social media platform where we share the link yo the whats app platform and you can join on your won.
  2. SMS / phone calls; our contacts our shared with the general public including phone numbers of the legal clinics . People can send sms or put a phone call through and ask for support or simply get a basic legal advice or furthermore, even ask questions related to the law or how to navigate certain institutions
  3. Facebook, our face book page is also an avenue to take up cases, we have once intervened in a case of trafficking in persons based on a report from a face book follower. We have received and rescued a child from an abusive guardian from Facebook report and we have give legal advice through same platform. However, in all of this, we have found one major challenge. Though some of the people on this platforms are people who actually need out services, majority of people who need us are out there and they have zero skills in technology. How do such people access our services if they are technology based and self use? I would love to learn from you how you are mitigating this challenge. We operate in the North.
    The k you
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  1. Sorry the reply is quite late. Thank you for your interest in our work. Like you rightly noted people have issues adapting to new tech and we are still facing that challenge too. However, remember that George Benard Shaw’s quote "The reasonable man adapts himself to the conditions that surround him… The “unreasonable man” adapts surrounding conditions to himself… All progress depends on the “unreasonable man” ". To effect change we have to be the unreasonable man and let the world catch up.

  2. What we have done in the area of providing access to justice is to reach out to this people ourselves. It is not uncommon to find people coming out to social media to complain about their rights being breached. We contact them and tell how to create a case (make a complain) on our platform. With this strategy, people get to know our work. See example Evidence%20of%20Gavel%20working

  3. Also, we jump on trends that aligns to our work. Like the #EndSARS, #ReformPoliceNG, #EndPoliceBrutality to reach out to people and provide support.

  4. In addition, we also reach out to prisons and court to get information about inmates who have no lawyer. Remember our justice clock is to track time spent by awaiting trial persons, we get most of this details from prison and enter it into our online platform.

  5. I hope this helps.

Wow,great work right there!!

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Our Impact:

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I am at the National Paralegal Summit in Abuja ( 7th - 8th Oct, 2019) convened by IWEI and the Legal Aid Council Nigeria.

@Citizen_gavel https://www.gavel.ng/ #tech4justice just gave an interesting presentation on how the use tech to promote access to justice. Innovations include:

  1. a justice clock - an online timer to monitor cases across courts in Nigeria. The justice clock monitors time spent by pre-trial detainees in Nigerian prisons.
  2. Podus - an online platform where volunteer advocates interact with complainants to provide free legal advice
  3. use of infographics to create awareness.

This online platform relies on paralegals for the groundwork : following up on cases and inputting data on the platform. Paralegals also create awareness of the platform and in far flung areas where internet connectivity may be a problem, they use physical forms to collect data and input this information on the online platform once they get to a place with connectivity. They also keep persons updated on their cases.

Citizen Gavel is looking to partner with various organisations…perhaps @ajioye this may be of interest? @DennisEkwere

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Thanks Aimee. It is noted and mail sent to Gavel.

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Thank you again.

Citizen Gavel’s doing very well here in Nigeria (although mostly focused on criminal matters). The Legal Aid Council is also picking up speed with citizens’ support programmes. I’d follow up with the proceedings as I am presently in Lagos.

Cheers.

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