The biannual Court User Committee (CUC) sharing meeting happened on June 25, 2019, at Hotel Continental, Mombasa.
Mombasa, Lamu, Kwale, and Malindi justice actors took part in this gathering — a culmination of an 18-month-long CUC and community discussions, which MUHURI was undertaking under the project, “Justice for Peace”. Other partners were Search for Common Ground and Kwacha Africa.
Representatives from the offices of the Chief Justice, Director of Public Prosecution, Attorney General, and Inspector General of police graced the event.
The project helped justice actors resolve social crimes, especially Violent Extremism in the Coast, through constructive engagement. The CUC meeting shared gaps in fighting VE, highlighted during the project period.
Structural recommendations drawn from previous meetings were shared. Attendees highlighted challenges CUCs and Criminal Justice Actors faced when handling VE-related cases.
Among the challenges cited was contempt of court by prison officers who failed to release inmates linked to violent extremism. But prison protocol dictates officers must receive a signal from their seniors before releasing a prisoner. In most cases, such signals are not issued.
The community accused magistrates of being compromised if they don’t convict VE suspects, for lack of evidence. Police, in some instances, did shoddy investigations resulting in weak or unclear court evidence.
Another challenge involved lawyers who, by fearing victimization, shied away from taking up VE-related cases. The CUC members also faced threats and suspicion, which held them back from discussing VE-related matters in meetings.
The meeting recommended:
- Government to establish adequate trauma healing enters for security agents tackling VE cases.
2. Government to institutionalize clear amnesty structure with referrals. The role of stakeholders involved in disengagement, reintegration, and rehabilitation of returnees must be well defined.
3. Establishment of Violent Extremism desks akin to gender in all police stations. Officers trained on VE matters to handle the desks.
4. National Police Service to roll out refresher training for officers and conduct a specialized taring for cops dealing with VE cases or where it is rampant.
5. Put in place policies and structures to enforce the witness protection program. Community to be regularly sensitized on the Witness Protection Act, plea bargaining and Prevention of Terrorism Act.
6. Inclusion of all actors in addressing historical injustices.
7. Map out at-risk areas where CVE interventions would focus on.