Public Benefits from Free Services During Legal Awareness Week

October 26, 2023

The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) has set aside a whole week for lawyers to provide free legal services, promising to put people at the centre of the justice system and address prison overcrowding while ensuring access to legal services and representation for inmates.

LSK advocates for pro bono work, promoting selflessness and dedication to justice ideals. The society believed that providing legal aid to those without financial means could make the justice system more equitable.

Speaking at Milimani Law Courts, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Mr. Renson Mulele, said that the initiative will provide an opportunity to audit the criminal justice system and its responsiveness.

He commented on the Nation Legal Aid for the tireless effort to champion access to justice.

“It is unfortunate that the recent audit of the criminal justice system in Kenya revealed that it is skewed against the poor. This arises as acts of criminalization of poverty, excessive bail terms, and habitual re-arrest by law enforcement officers against the indigent in society,” stated Mulele.

The DPP said the agenda this year emphasises the role of the 21st century prosecutor, which goes beyond case processing and conducting trials and includes analysing societal issues and implementing crime prevention modalities and solutions through community engagement and participation.

“Statistics show that the prison population in Kenya is estimated at 58,897 in 134 prison facilities whose maximum holding capacity is 34,000 people,” Mulele said.

At the same time, the President of LSK, Mr. Eric Theuri, maintained that their aim is to engage in a conversation that will go beyond prison officers, offenders, and victims towards a system that is fair and to break the cycle that creates reoffending and turn prisons into a criminal academy.

“When you go in, you go less of a criminal and come out having graduated with better skills and how to beat the system,” he observed.

Meanwhile, FIDA Chairperson Nancy Ikinu described the Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA KENYA) as a non-profit, nonpartisan, and nongovernmental membership organisation committed to the creation of a society that is free from all forms of discrimination against women through the provision of legal aid, human rights monitoring, advocacy education, and referrals.

“FIDA Kenya has been able to defend justice for the affected women through the flagship programme, self-representation training, and psychosocial support,” added Ikinu.

In a speech read on her behalf by LSK Vice-Chairperson Faith Odhiambo, Ikinu urged the prison facilities to strictly adhere to the nine thematic areas in the United Nations Standard for minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners (Mandela Rule), particularly highlighting the need for standards of health care that are available in the community and providing necessary healthcare services to prisoners free of charge without discrimination.

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