Cases emerging from communities are reported to any of the member of the panel of elders who then shares it with the rest of the members.
The elders then invite community members using phones, megaphones or any other local means available to them.
Once invited, community members converge in an agreed central place and cases are attended to accordingly.
Cases are handled and concluded within 24 hours.
The Bataka court sits as a civil court and awards civil remedies with total participation of community members as illustrated in the figure below
- Bataka court sessions are held in an open space with full participation of community members
- The community members are both the prosecutors and judges at the same time
- The sessions are conducted at an agreed central venue
- The sessions are chaired according to who the case was reported to
- Each member of the panel of elders chairs cases depending on the reporting pattern
- Both the aggrieved and defendant parties are given equal amount of time to make their case and thereafter the community members are given an opportunity to cross examine them
- During the session, the panel of elders selects someone to keep law and order
- The parties are allowed to present their witnesses
- Judgement is done there and then by the Bataka (community members)
- The proceedings are in the native languages
- As a rule of the record, the courts procedure may include a written phase and an oral phase
- Cases that are personal or confidential in nature are handled in closed session by selected members of the panel
The Bataka courts resolve civil cases including land boundary disputes, domestic quarrels, succession conflicts (inheritance matters), Simple debts, animal trespasses among others. Such cases are reported by the offended parties at any time. Below is an illustration of how cases handled by Bataka courts are reported.
The remedies/penalties may include public apologies, community service, compensation for victims of wrongs, Ekitta Ky’ abataka (citizens’ brew) gourd for elders, restitution, simple damages, consent agreements and MOUs between parties that are enforceable by courts of law. Enforcement of judgements is majorly done through social sanctions with majority of community members as agents of enforcement and the signed MOUs enforceable by the courts of law are key.