Our aim is to create a link between the residents of Old Fadama and the wider community by promoting the rule of law; by disseminating information about legal entitlements and human rights; and by providing the people of Old Fadama with access to remedies for legal problems and human rights abuses. By doing this, our goal is to improve the lives of the people of Old Fadama.
The residents of Old Fadama live in an environment that is crowded, dirty, unsanitary, and unsupported. There is currently a prevalence of domestic violence and rape (of adults and of children). Child maintenance and child custody issues are rife, with children not receiving the support they need to grow, develop, and be educated. Residents are completely unaware of their legal and financial position when there is a death in their family. Rental disputes are a daily occurrence, with most residents uncertain that their possessions will remain when they return to their shack, and unsure of whether they will be able to sleep in the one spot from one day to the next. Violence is a commonly employed mechanism for the resolution of disputes.
There are two major deficiencies in Old Fadama that cause and amplify so many of these problems. These deficiencies result in a situation in which acceptable behaviour is determined by strength and power; and in which there is a gap between the people of Old Fadama and the services to which they are entitled. Our way of combating these problems is by tackling the deficiencies that create them. As there are two major deficiencies we are trying to combat, FLAP performs dual functions.
Deficiency 1: Lack of Knowledge
There is a lack of knowledge in the community of legal and human rights. Given that most of the residents have received little or no formal education, are illiterate, and are unable to communicate in English (the national language), people simply don’t know what is and is not acceptable; what is and is not expected of them; and what they can expect from others.
To combat this, we endeavour to inject information into the community – information about human rights; information about legal rights; and information about services and remedies. We get out into the community and give informational presentations, and our doors are always open for questions.
Deficiency 2: Access to Remedies
Before FLAP, the residents of Old Fadama had little opportunity to access remedies for legal problems and human rights abuses. This lack of opportunity existed because of a lack of knowledge in the community of the services (all be them, generally, over-stretched services) in Accra that can help them with their problems. These are services like Legal Aid, Domestic Violence Victims Support Unit, and the Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice. Moreover, even if the people were aware of these services, accessing them was extremely difficult and hard to prioritise given the cost of transportation and the financial consequences of time away from work. Furthermore, the people of Old Fadama are not given the respect from much of the wider community which all human beings deserve, and, given that the residents are uneducated and unable to speak the national language, they lack the skills to demand it.
We combat this deficiency by providing the people of Old Fadama with a service and an access point within their community. People can attend the FLAP office whenever they have a problem – it may be a dispute; it may be a legal question; it may be an abuse of human rights; it may be a need for someone to speak on their behalf; or just a need for guidance – and they receive assistance, free of charge.
Fadama Legal Assistance Program:
- Gives information on human and legal rights to the residents of Old Fadama
- Provides advice and assistance to victims of rape and domestic violence
- Provides mediation for the resolution of disputes
- Provides referrals
- Assists parents to obtain financial assistance from their child’s other parent
- Assists in child custody disputes
- Assists the residents of Old Fadama to create certainty in rental arrangements
- Is available to answer questions from people curious about their rights
- Advises family members of the deceased and assists people to make a Will
- Gives a voice to non-English speakers and the illiterate
- Helps the residents of Old Fadama access the services available to them
We offer to the people of Old Fadama: