Who is MCJL?
Muslim Centre for Justice and Law (MCJL) was officially registered in 2011 as a faith-based NGO dedicated to promoting and advancing Justice, tolerance and human rights in Uganda. MCJL has expanded its geographical coverage from 2 districts in 2012 and currently operates in 9 districts of Uganda. Three districts in central Uganda covering Kampala, Mpigi and Butambala; Two districts in Eastern Uganda covering Bugiri and Mayuge; Four districts in Northern Uganda covering Omoro, Gulu, Lamwo and Yumbe district in West Nile Region.
MCJL envisions a Ugandan society that upholds universal faith-based principles in ensuring equitable access to justice, human rights and observance of the law.
MCJL MISSION is to facilitate observance of human rights, justice, peace, and good governance through promotion of public interest, civil liberties, and obligations under the law.
- Access to Justice: MCJL has continued to address discrimination against Muslim women, as well as enhancing their voice on matters that concern their well-being. At community level, 50 paralegals were trained (37 were Muslim adjudicators from community mosques and 13 from Local Council 1).
- Peacebuilding and Preventing Countering Violent extremism (PCVE): MCJL has continued to build tolerance and peaceful co-existence among the youth from different religions in Uganda.
- Gender and Women Empowerment: MCJL contributes to the reduction of domestic violence through protection and promotion of women and girl-children rights for gender equity among the Muslim community in Butambala and Kampala districts.
- Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR): MCJL contributes to the elimination of new HIV infections and reducing unintended pregnancies among Muslim girls in school and women of reproductive age (15 to 49 years).
- Human Rights/Legal Education: MCJL promotes Good Governance, Human Rights, Peace and stability in Uganda through the use of the Rule of Law
Partnership with Faith to Action Network
MCJL and Faith to Action Network have worked together in several projects:
- COMMUNITIES RICHER IN DIVERSITY (CRID): This project aimed to promote cultural diversity and respect for equal dignity of all people through interfaith and intercultural dialogue and cooperation. This was done in collaboration with Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC). Through the programme, tolerance and peaceful co-existence were enhanced among youth from different religions.
- Joint Initiative for Strategic Religious Action (JISRA). This project is a scale-up from the CRID programme mentioned above. The programme addresses key issues pertaining freedom of religion and belief within three pathways: Intra-religious, inter-religious and extra-religious. Intra-religious pathway focuses on issues such as: Tensions between mainstream Christian denominations and the minority denominations, and between mainstream Sunni Muslims and the minority Salafis, over doctrinal differences and contrasting ways of interpreting religious texts. Inter-religious pathway focuses on issues including the clash between different faiths, specifically Christian and Muslims over doctrinal differences, practices and misunderstanding of faiths, and the clash between the traditional African religions and other faiths, especially Christians and Muslims. And, extra-religious pathway focuses on issues including influencing the legal and policy frame-work like discriminatory registration of religious organizations by the government which some religious groups view as violation of their FORB rights.
MCJL Success Stories
- Visibility of Women in National Events. Before MCJL interventions, Inter-religious disputes have been dominant in Yumbe district, the Christians were not in good talking terms with the dominant Muslim faith population. About 76% of the population are Muslims in Yumbe district. The faith leaders could not hold a physical meeting in harmony and never talked to each other for the good of their faith communities. The children from families of different Muslim factions could never join a common school where funders were of a different faith community. However, MCJL’s intervention saw a significant improvement especially during the International Women’s Day celebrations in 2022. MCJL supported the celebrations in Yumbe district with a brass band in commemoration of the day and brought together different faith
- Edutainment plays a pivotal role in peacebuilding among youth in Yumbe district. Before MCJL’s intervention the youth were addicted with drugs including taking Marijuana and Mairangi, locally called Mirra. There were few Christian youth and these were not in good talking terms with the dominant Muslim population. MCJL continuously engaged the youth in drama activities with emphasis to pass on messages that promote peaceful co-existence, reconciliation and unity in diversity. At the climax of the Music, Dance and Drama events, youth groups were given prize money, drums and a mobile speaker. Youth from different religious denominations continue to work together to accomplish social actions at family and community level. It gives them a platform to work collaboratively to promote peace.
- Sports used as a tool for peacebuilding among the Youth. MCJL organized football and netball matches among the youth in Yumbe district. The sports events were conducted at their climax in commemoration of the International Peace Day on 21st September 2021. During the event of identification of the teams at community level, effort was laid on ensuring equitable representation of the various faiths on the teams. As a result, the football and netball matches have promoted a platform for youth engagement, where they come together with a common ground of unity in diversity. Despite their religious differences, the youth play and enjoy together which has promoted social cohesion.
- Mediation as a Conflict Resolution Strategy by Religious Leaders. Before MCJL’s intervention; Intra-religious clashes were dominant. There were intra religious conflicts especially among the Suuni, Shia and Salaafi in Bugiri and Mayuge districts due to ideological differences. The faith leaders could not hold a physical meeting in harmony and never talked to each other for the good of their faith communities. MCJL mobilised religious leaders and conducted mediation trainings among faith actors. It was emphasised that in mediation, the primary focus of the mediator is to encourage the disputants to communicate with each other concerning the dispute. As a result of the trainings, religious leaders have improved dispute resolution. MCJL through trainings on mediations and peacebuilding for the religious leaders, has facilitated amicable resolution of disputes at religious leadership levels.
- Muslims advocate for Policy Reforms. Before MCJL’s intervention the succession bill had gaps, in addition to Article 129(1)d which has never been enacted. The legislative actions continuously affect the operationalisation of Qadhi’s courts and their decisions in Uganda. Although Islamizing terrorism remained key in the aftermath of the twin bombings. MCJL petitioned the Uganda Human Rights Commission demanding the Commission to investigate the incidents of extra judicial killings and offer redress to aggrieved parties. The statement is accessible on https://mcjl.ug/articles/joint-petition-by-faith-based-and-public-interest-civil-society-organizations/. As a result of MCJL’s intervention in collaboration with other CSO actors, made effort and advocated for the passing of the succession Act. The Act was passed by parliament and assented to by HE Yoweri Kaguta Museveni in 2022.
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