Home Alternative guide EU commits 4.5 billion shillings to improve access to justice in Kenya » Capital News

EU commits 4.5 billion shillings to improve access to justice in Kenya » Capital News

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NAIROBI, Kenya, 30 January – The European Union has committed 4.5 billion shillings for the second phase of the Kenya Legal Empowerment and Aid Delivery Program (PLEAD II) according to the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borell.

Borrell, who spoke at the launch of the program with Chief Justice Martha Koome at the Makadara Courthouse in Nairobi on Friday, said PLEAD is the largest EU justice program in sub-Saharan Africa.

PLEAD II will come into effect later this year and run until 2028.

“PLEAD has initiated transformative criminal justice reforms in Kenya, provided critical support to justice institutions and helped develop an expanded legal aid service offering to vulnerable and marginalized citizens,” Borrell said.

He explained that the new phase will focus on the capacity of the criminal justice system to fight corruption more effectively and on exploiting the potential of digital technologies to improve access to justice, in particular for the most vulnerable. vulnerable.

“In the coming months, together with the judiciary, our teams from the EU, UNODC, UNDP and civil society actors will work together to pave the way for better access to justice and a better fight against corruption in Kenya”.

Speaking at the launch, Chief Justice Koome said the second phase builds on the successes of PLEAD I, which put in place a transformational agenda aimed at improving the delivery of justice.

The program has improved access to justice, especially for the poor and vulnerable, through the provision of legal aid. The initiative has also strengthened court administration and case management, improved the quality and efficiency of the criminal justice system, and improved cooperation across the justice sector.

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“We have seen a significant improvement in the efficiency and institutional performance of the various actors in the justice sector. The support of the PLEAD I program has enabled justice sector actors to continue to provide services despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic”, she underlined.

Support under PLEAD I helped ensure a collaborative and consultative approach among member agencies of the National Council for the Administration of Justice (NCAJ) that improved access to justice.

Key achievements included multi-agency response to COVID 19, policy development including diversion policy and plea negotiation guidelines. PLEAD’s support also strengthened court user committees and the development of the NCAJ 2021-2026 strategic plan.

CJ Koome explained that the aspirations that drive the PLEAD program resonate with the Judiciary’s vision of social transformation through access to justice, which aims to achieve results that will improve institutional performance and deepen access to justice. for all, especially the most vulnerable in society.

“The vision places people at the center of our service delivery. In other words, we aim to develop a people-centred justice system that focuses on people’s needs, thereby reinforcing the idea of ​​justice as a public service.

She added that the vision offers a roadmap for developing an efficient, accessible, timely, fair and cost-effective justice system in service delivery.

“The priority areas identified under the vision include clearing the backlog of cases, improving access to justice by increasing pathways to justice, digitizing court operations and processes, strengthening public confidence in the judicial system and improving the coordination and synergy of actors in the justice sector”.

Some of the specific strategies, interventions and innovations that the Judiciary is pursuing include ensuring accessibility to courts by having a Magistrates Court in each sub-county and a High Court and Court of equal status in each county.

The deployment of Small Claims Courts throughout the country is also intended to ensure that social grievances, particularly for economically vulnerable members of society, are resolved quickly, thus promoting the prospect of peaceful coexistence in vulnerable communities such as slums and informal settlements.

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The Chief Justice was adamant that under her administration, no case should last more than three years in trial court or one year in appeal court. “We are also paying extra attention to anti-corruption and economic crime cases and commercial disputes to ensure prompt resolution of these cases.”

The judiciary is also improving the use of information and communications technology in its processes by optimizing virtual court operations, online filing and case management.

“We aim to promote the use of a multi-door approach to conflict resolution by strengthening the operations of alternative justice systems and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. To this end, we will provide mediation suites and AJS in courthouses where we have the physical infrastructure required to accommodate the suites.”

CJ Koome said complaint handling processes and public communication channels to build public confidence in the justice system will be strengthened.

PLEAD I focused on 12 counties including Nairobi, Kisumu, Mombasa, Nakuru, Uasin Gishu, Garissa, Isiolo, Lamu, Mandera, Marsabit, Tana River and Wajir.

The second phase of the Program for Legal Empowerment and Delivery of Aid in Kenya (PLEAD II) will now cover 17 counties.