‘Accessing justice is a complex and cumbersome process, these are sentiments echoed by most people with legal concerns seeking to get legal assistance. Centre for Enhancing Democracy and Good Governance (CEDGG) through our program aims at promoting access to justice through provision of effective legal aid in Nakuru County under the PLEAD project to contribute to the realization of the Right to Access to Justice.
The concept of legal aid seeks to assist the indigent otherwise unable to afford legal representation and access to the court system. Its therefore promotes equality before the law and ensures fair trial as guaranteed by Article 48 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010.
The bi-annual reflection forum aimed to reflect on the strategies employed in promoting access to justice through provision of effective legal aid in Nakuru County. As part of the strategies employed by CEDGG in promoting access to justice are the legal aid clinics which were conducted across the 11 sub-counties in Nakuru County.
“In Kuresoi South there were many legal concerns in regards to land and succession, Gender based violence and employment issues. Legal aid clinics helped in breaking stereotypes that legal aid is expensive and promoting adoption of alternative methods to resolve disputes.”Mr. Ombati – Community paralegal Kuresoi South
In promoting Alternative Justice Systems (AJS) community awareness sessions were conducted with organized groups to help them understand the different concepts and embrace AJS as an alternative method of conflict resolution. Community groups reverberated that AJS helped in promoting relationships since it provides a win-win situation and the parties involved reach an amicable solution.
Through collaborations and partnerships established under the Nakuru Legal Aid working group, referral and follow up mechanism have been enhanced to ensure clients get speedy response of cases.Samuel Momanyi – Nakuru Legal Aid Centre In-house Advocate
Among the successes realized in implementation of the program are engagement with the media through production of snapshots and talk shows to create awareness on the Alternative Justice Systems Baseline Policy and more importantly imperatives and benefits of AJS. Collaborations and partnerships established under the Nakuru Legal Aid working group helped in strengthening of referral and follow up mechanism to ensure clients get speedy response of cases. The cohort 1 training of community paralegals has seen the paralegals undertake training and gaining legal knowledge.
In light of all the successes realized in promoting access to justice more efforts have to be in place to ensure that the indigent access justice. Among the interventions that need to be promoted are more legal awareness sessions conducted to enable the indigent access justice, encourage more people to turn up during community awareness sessions, encourage clients to follow up their cases to ensure they access justice and establish linkages between the Nakuru Legal Aid Centre and community paralegals to identify and solve legal aid concerns.Wilkister Akinyi – Project Officer, Human Rights and Access to Justice