ACCESS TO JUSTICE PROJECT (AJP)
Introduction to Access to Justice Project (AJP)
MUHURI has identified access to justice as a priority in order to realise its mission and vision. With the new constitution coming into force, there is high optimism of rule of law amongst the citizenry and as an organisation that has been working on justice issues for the past eight (8) years; MUHURI finds itself in the middle of the judicial reforms processes. Through our work in the region, we have become one of the key players in the justice sector bringing together other justice actors to work together to promote access to justice in the pre-trial detention process. In the last four years alone, MUHURI has been able to network with justice actors who include the police, probation, prisons and the judiciary in the region to address the bottlenecks in the administration of justice. Through this project, MUHURI seeks to continue with this work and introduce new ideas in the programme that will fortify the justice sector and promote constitutionalism and rule of law.
The Bill of Rights in the Constitution of Kenya has several articles that directly promote delivery of justice and more specifically pre-trial justice. These include:
Article 48 – Access to justice
Article 49 – Rights of arrested persons
Article 50 – Fair hearing
Article 51 – Rights of persons detained, held in custody or imprisoned
Access to justice is expressly provided for in Article 48 which obligates the state to "...ensure access to justice for all persons...” It is important that this clarification has been made because it means that even those suspected of having committed criminal offences have a right to justice. The practise has always been that once suspected and arrested, the police and/or the public consider you as one who does not deserve justice. In Kenya cases of public beating suspected criminals to death and/or police shooting down suspected criminals are rampant. Article 48 therefore dictates that even suspects (who are on pre-trial) must be treated with fairness. To compliment article 48 there is Article 49 which provides for the right to "...be brought before a court as soon as reasonably possible ...”. This article again supports pre-trial justice in that it demands speedy action by the authorities to investigate and prepare committal bundles at the earliest possible time and present the suspect before a court of law for determination of his/her case.
With these provisions, the legal framework for the attainment of pre trial justice is in place. What is required now is the implementation and monitoring of justice actors. That is why work to promote pre-trial justice issues is now more relevant than ever before. As an organisation, MUHURI has 8 years of experience in this field. Since 2005, the organisation has been undertaking projects whose objectives have been centred around ensuring individuals in conflict with the law are assisted to get justice in the shortest time possible. The projects have realised tremendous results and in many cases assisted justice actors to be more efficient and deliver services to the people. Through the implementation of this Access to Justice Programme (AJP), MUHURI will seek to continue the work it has been doing and also ensure that the new provisions provided in the constitution are adhered to and that the people benefit from them.
Goal of the Project
The goal of the project is to ensure the right to a fair and speedy trial as guaranteed in the Constitution of Kenya (Article 50) through the promotion of human rights and legal literacy at the courts, police stations and prisons. The project also seeks to reduce gross violation of human rights from taking place at detention centres and establish coordination among the criminal justice actors and enhance access to justice for all.
Objectives of the Project
1. To work with justice actors at both county and national levels to promote pre-trial justice and provide a platform for their further engagement and partnership on pre-trial detention justice matters.
2. To influence justice reforms, laws and policies that will need to be reviewed under the new constitution and ensure they promote pre-trial justice.
3. To provide legal assistance to individuals in conflict with the law at both pre and post-trial periods and take up strategic litigation to advance pre-trial justice issues.
4. To raise legal awareness and reduce ignorance of the law in communities.
The following activities are being undertaken in order to realize the objectives and goal of the project:
• Paralegal Trainings
• Para legalism at Police Stations, Courts, Prisons and within Communities
• Legal Aid Clinic Program (LACliP)
• Street Law Program
• Strategic Litigation/Legal Aid Support
• Justice Stakeholders Support
• Government Officers Trainings
• Production of Simplified Legal Education Materials