ABOUT THE FACULTY OF LAW LEGAL AID PROJECT
The Faculty of Law Legal Aid Project is funded by UNDP-Amkeni Wakenya with an objective to facilitate enhanced access to justice by the marginalized and the poor in Nakuru County and to build a sustained and structured legal aid service within Nakuru County. The project aims to address the challenge of violation of human rights for the marginalized and poor groups of people living within Nakuru County beginning with select sub counties namely, Nakuru Town West, Naivasha, Subukia, Molo, Bahati and Rongai. These groups of people have limited access to institutions providing legal services and enforcement of human rights. Their plight as vulnerable groups worsens their situation, further isolating them from equal treatment before the law. They also find mainstream channels of accessing information inaccessible, making it hard for them to know their rights or how to enforce them. There is therefore little access to information on human rights and identification or referral of human rights abuses is at its lowest.
The target groups for this project are therefore the marginalized and vulnerable people, particularly the poor, those living with HIV and Aids, women, youth and persons living with disabilities. These groups of people are often shunned in decision making in governance matters at the national and county level. They face many hurdles in accessing justice and violations of human rights among them is rampant. These challenges are compounded by the fact that most of these people are poor and can hardly meet their basic human needs. Under the circumstances, the pursuit of human rights becomes a far-fetched idea, considering their precarious position in the society.
There are several institutions and interventions that have been put in place focusing on Nakuru County for provision of legal aid. Particularly, there is active participation by Rift Valley Law Society in Nakuru County and PLEAD projects. The National Legal Aid Services has also done a lot in providing such interventions, some of which FOLLAP has been involved in. However, it is estimated that only 26.3% of all residents of Nakuru County have access to any form of justice, hence the need for this intervention. The situation is further worsened by the fact that of all the marginalized people living in Nakuru County, only 41.7% of them sought and got justice. Several challenges have been identified by the Baseline Survey for Phase II of AmkeniWakenya Programme (2015-2018) in the provision of legal services to the vulnerable and marginalized groups of people. These challenges include inadequate legal services, complicated legal procedures, long distance to the institutions providing justice, corruption and unaffordable costs. The target group for this project withstands the worst of these problems.
This project therefore comes in handy to bridge the gap of access to justice for these groups of people. With a focus on legal awareness and improved access to justice through legal aid, this project seeks to eventually improve the enforcement of human rights. By providing strategic sustained legal aid through innovative ways and improving awareness for human rights, this project will bring the much-needed help for the target groups and the beneficiaries of the project. The project has the benefit of a focus on human rights in the Faculty of Law curriculum and therefore this project seamlessly operates within the long term objectives of the faculty of law to be a premier provider of legal education with an impact on the society in which its students are drawn. Further, most students studying in the university are equitably drawn from varied backgrounds and most of them can identify with the plight of the target groups.
As the students interact with the community, it will be a double benefit for the project since it will also contribute to the training of a different breed of lawyers who will eventually influence policy and carry on further the work of providing legal aid to the indigent members of the society. An experience and partnership with the community in providing legal aid will surely have a lasting impact for the students, some of whom have been raised in similar conditions.
The faculty of law also has a team of lecturers and trainers who have gone through advanced training and research in human rights and issues of gender and the law. The Project therefore prides itself in having some of the members of the faculty who have also been previously involved in the drafting of the National Action Plan on Legal Aid. With a rich human rights background, the institution offers to influence various regions of Nakuru County with a long-term objective of partnership with the local community to ensure an achievement of entrenched human rights governance within the county.
This project, on legal aid and access to justice for the marginalized, was therefore birthed under the foregoing circumstances. Its overall objective is to provide a long-term partnership between Egerton faculty of law and the community living in Nakuru County, leading to better lives and human dignity for the marginalized and the vulnerable. This will be achieved by offering legal aid and undertaking activities leading to awareness of human rights for the target groups of people. The effect will be an enhanced access to justice.
The project is also collaborating with various stakeholders and particularly the LSK Rift Valley Branch, from which a number of advocates have enrolled in a probono scheme to be available to offer free legal services to members of the public. Other stakeholders include, National Legal Aid Service Nakuru and the County Government of Nakuru. Such help for the target group will lead to an active operational legal aid program that people can access.
We envision that the project will result in community justice systems empowered to embrace Human Rights Based approaches, sensitized women to identify and assert their rights, enhanced access to justice by the poor and marginalized groups and a structured legal aid service within the target sub counties of Nakuru county. Through the project, there will also be knowledge developed for dissemination to other stakeholders in the justice sector.
The project is also one of its kind in Kenya where law students are actively involved in provision of legal aid services under supervision of advocates.
The project aims to achieve enhanced access to justice by the marginalized in Nakuru County. It is estimated that there will be more people seeking legal aid and reporting violations of human rights as a result of the initiatives to be undertaken in this project.
The project will also lead to a sustained and structured legal aid service within Nakuru county, further bringing a unique contribution for sustainability. In this regard, it is expected to impact the lawyers in training by equipping them with some experience on the plight of the marginalized in their community. This will be very critical in ensuring that these lawyers will, in future, give back to the community by providing probono services to the marginalized in the society which will also ensure easier access to justice by the marginalized in the society. The project will also instil the students will much-needed experience which will provide them with an edge in the marketplace.
What Legal Aid aim to achieve
Key among the project’s objectives is the removal of barriers for access to justice among the target groups, to empowerment of the community to have the capacity to refer cases of human rights violations as well as to build the capacity of communal justice systems to operate effectively and efficiently within the County.
We strive to provide pro bono legal aid and education services for the poor and marginalized
We are committed to sensitizing women on Legal Aid Act and how to identify and report violations.
We are dedicated to fostering partnerships to build capacity of the community justice system.