Tech-savvy ‘barefoot law’ opens doors of Ugandan justice

February 20, 2015 5:30 am

– ‘Legal rebel’-
Today Barefoot Law receives up to 100 queries a day ranging from the sometimes absurd to everyday issues.

One query – “Can animals be arrested?” – was asked after two protesters were held along with two piglets they had sneaked into parliament as part of an anti-corruption protest.

Another enquired whether there was a law to take action “when the neighbour’s tree falls into my compound, as opposed to going and beating them?”

In remote parts of the country, Barefoot lawyers offer advice via radio stations.

“You have a population talking about mob justice but you want the population to believe in the law,” said Abila, adding that many people had lost confidence in a judicial system swamped by backlogs of thousands of cases.

“A lot of these issues can be nipped at the bud if only you know what the law is,” he added.

“All you have to do is get in touch, because ignorance of the law is no defence at all.”

Last September, Abila was given a “legal rebel” award by the American Bar Association, and in January, Barefoot scooped the Facebook page of the year category at the inaugural Social Media Awards Africa in Nigeria.

“We’ve changed people’s mindsets towards a lot of issues,” said Abila. “Some people even want to go to law school now.”

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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