The results in context
Access to justice is a basic right guaranteed under Article 48 of the Kenyan Constitution. However, many people, in particular women and the poor, face significant challenges in this respect. The main reasons for this are lack of knowledge, complicated court procedures and the high cost of legal representation. The Netherlands focused on programmes with the objective to increase awareness of rights and the law by providing legal aid, legal empowerment and judicial reforms. This increased the number of people with access to quick and fair justice, specifically women.
The programme supported institutions providing legal aid and raising awareness through innovative mechanisms that improved their institutional capacity. For example, partners Kituo cha Sheria and the Kenya National Commission for Human Rights (KNCHR) developed and implemented mobile phone applications. These were used to present legal complaints and provide legal aid without having to visit or hire a lawyer. Through support to Kituo’s mobile platform ‘M-Haki’ and KNCHR’s SMS Platform, more than 5,700 people were able to make use of legal support.
Legal aid was also provided to more than 6,500 people through eight community and eight prison justice centres. Of this total, 77% were from the target group women and/or poor. The issues dealt with were disputes involving land, inheritance and matters related to marriage. Paralegals trained by Kituo assisted poor people in prison who could not afford legal representation. Legal aid in prisons also contributed to solving bottlenecks by dismissing cases, reviewing sentences and providing access to affordable bails and bonds. Other legal problems were resolved through Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). For instance, KNCHR used ADR to resolve the long-standing land dispute between herders and ranchers in the county of Laikipia. The Amkeni Wakenya programme used ADR to resolve succession and inheritance matters, which often take a very long time to resolve through formal court processes. The use of public interest litigation by the organisations AFRIGOC (African Centre for Democratic Governance) and KNCHR was also successful in resolving a total of 29 legal problems, including sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) cases, as well as those filed to safeguard rights and fundamental freedoms.
Support was given to strengthen the judiciary through the International Development Law Organisation (IDLO). IDLO initiated reforms that improved and simplified the processes and procedures of the Judiciary by making them more user friendly, thereby enabling people seeking justice (in particular women) to access courts. With the Netherlands’ support, a strengthened Judiciary led to a considerable improvement in the rate of cases being concluded. Experiments in handling disputes by mediation outside court resolved 182 of the 292 cases filed around divorce, maintenance (alimony), succession and inheritance. Mainly women benefited from this. The improved operations of the Judiciary led to increased public confidence in this institution from 51% to 68% (notably higher than other public sector institutions).