Paralegal Graduation

Paralegals Graduate with skills to foster Justice at the community level

Over 65 community paralegals in Kisumu and Vihiga counties have been awarded certificates after successfully completing a three-week paralegal training that has empowered them with legal skills to promote access to justice in their respective communities.

Under the Access to Justice program, the sheria mashinani project is aimed at bridging the legal gap existing among the underserved communities due to poverty and ignorance of the law. 

Speaking during the event held on Thursday, August 4, 2022, at Mama Grace Social hall in Kisumu, Sylvia Morwabe, Programs Manager, Access to Justice said a  lot of people in the communities get in trouble because they have little knowledge of the law. 

“The purpose of this training is to impact and empower community members especially the youth with legal skills and knowledge to increase access to justice.  The community paralegals will help the community better understand what the law entails and guide them on how to demand for better services and get help in times of crisis,”  explained Sylvia.

According to Hon. Justice Joel Ngugi, only 21 percent of Kenyans have access to the courts as a primary source of justice. He urged the group of paralegals to demystify the idea that justice can only be found in the courts and work to reactivate the exciting community justice systems to ensure easy access to justice.

“As we celebrate this milestone I call upon this team to be missionaries of justice  to ensure that justice can be accessed by all,” urged Hon. Justice Ngugi.

Crime Si Poa Chairperson, Wilfred Nderitu, accentuated the importance of conducting the training in underserved communities by pointing out the existing gaps and the role the team will play in addressing them.

“You are coming in to bridge a gap that has been there due to ignorance, poverty and bureaucracy by assisting those who don’t know their legal rights or lack access to a lawyer to attain justice,” He said.

County Criminal Investigation Officer (CCIO) Francis Wanjua urged paralegals to play the role of being a community guardian by utilizing the knowledge learned to guide those around them to stand for their rights. Stating that a trained society is easy to deal with.

“ We appreciated the work Crime Si Poa is doing in empowering young people to act as peer counsellors and reaching out to fellow youth who are the most affected by crime. I urged the youth to be ambassadors of peace in the coming election week,” said Njau.

Within just a few months the impact of the training has already manifested itself with the majority of the paralegals attesting to the role they have played in aiding community members access justice. Isaiah Munyala, one of the graduates, described how he has helped educate and advise different community members on arising issues, noting that the majority of his community is ignorant of the law.

“ So far, we have been able to advise on at least three different cases, one of which was successful. We can attribute this to the intensive training we have received from Crime Si Poa team,” he said proudly.

Michael Bala, another graduate, could not hold his excitement as he explained the positive influence the training has had.

“Before the training, I did not know the legal procedures to follow when dealing with child neglect and SGBV cases which are recurrent in my community.  Since the training I have been able to assist in multiple cases that have helped many families get justice,’ he expressed,


Paralegal Training

Celebrations as 40 Inmates Graduate as Paralegals

Celebrations at the Nairobi West Prison as 40 inmates graduated today as paralegals after a 2-week training under the Crime Si Poa, Access to Justice Program. The remand and convicted inmates have been awarded certificates after successfully completing the customized training aimed at equipping them with legal knowledge and skills to assist them as well as their colleagues in accessing justice.

“I am glad to be one of those graduating today. This not only gives us hope but also helps close the criminal justice gap. I feel like a lot needs to be done as far as crime awareness is concerned. Many inmates do not know which acts are considered criminal and which acts are not. Little effort has been put in place to ensure people get the knowledge on crime hence such initiatives as this are much needed in prisons, ” said an inmate (name concealed).

According to Sylvia Morwabe, Programs Director at Crime Si Poa, most inmates in Kenya do not have access to legal representation which adversely affects their trials. The training will thus help the inmates navigate the justice system better leading to fewer miscarriages of justice and wrongful convictions.

“Big congratulations to all graduates for successfully completing the set course. This has been an interactive class. With paralegal skills, the inmates will have an understanding of the law to ensure they get just and fair trials,” said Morwabe.

The training curated and conducted in partnership with the Law Clinic of Strathmore University covered key areas of the criminal justice system, including legal areas such as the trial process, essentials of a fair trial, law of evidence, appeals & reviews, amongst others.

“I appreciate Crime Si Poa for this initiative. There is great importance attached to how you present and conduct yourself while in court. Through the program, inmates have been equipped effectively in order to effectively handle their cases. We ask for more reading materials in order to advance this initiative in prison,” said Regional Commander, Henry Kisungu.

Speaking during the awarding ceremony, Deputy Public Prosecutor in the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions Ms.Emily Kamau, applauded the graduates for the milestone achieved in attaining legal know-how and encouraged them to continue with the pursuit to learn more.

“I have seen many people who have built successful careers having gone through prison. We know of Nelson Mandela among others. It, therefore, does not mean that this is the end, there is still a future for you all. ” She said.

Paralegal Training

DOES THE LAW MATTER FOR THE POOR IN SOCIETY 

Does the law only work for the rich? This is a statement that is often used among Kenyans and the majority of Africans in countries where access to justice is a nightmare. The years of constant injustice experienced by individuals and as captured by the media help brew this perception. For a very long time, many people have had to grapple with the idea that knowledge of the Law is utterly useless. 

Testaments from Inmates in various prisons that we work in have proved this statement to be untrue. The despair that comes with the lack of understanding of court proceedings, magistrate ruling and the impact of the sentence on their lives is heartbreaking.  

Unfortunately, due to an overburdened justice system, many accused persons often lack proper representation and are left to represent themselves in court, resulting in a miscarriage of justice. Many of them are left wishing they had done things differently in court, however only a few get that chance.  

As we continue to advocate for reforms in the criminal justice system, to ensure that everyone is treated fairly and their rights are protected, we also aim to educate incarcerated persons in different prisons on the law. Crime Si Poa (CSP), through the Access to Justice Program, spearheaded paralegal training in Nairobi West prison where 40 inmates have successfully trained for 1 week and are set to graduate today with legal skills.  

The much-needed training set to take place in over ten prisons CSP works in will enable inmates to effectively defend themselves to positively influence their ruling. The training which entails trail advocacy, writing appeals and reviews, court procedures, and sentencing will prepare remandees as they proceed with their trial processes.  

The paralegal training is also extended into the community, where CSP sensitizes members of the community on the importance of knowing the law and teaches them what the law entails, so that they may know how to live in its confines and learn the diverse ways to resolve conflict aside from the court to avoid prolonged cases.  

Paralegal Training

Empowering inmates with legal skills to defend themselves in court

Paralegal Training at Nairobi West Prison

Crime Si Poa, under its Access to Justice Program today concluded a two-week (13th to 24th June) paralegal training in Nairobi West Prison that consisted of 40 inmates, both those on remand and convicted persons.

The group was taken through the workings of the criminal justice system which included the trial process, essentials of a fair trial, law of evidence, appeals, and reviews among others, to help them provide better arguments for their cases and get better rulings.

Most inmates in Kenya do not have access to proper legal representation which negatively affects their cases resulting in harsh rulings or worst-case scenario wrongful convictions.

According to Sylvia Morwabe, Program Manager, Access to Justice, the training will empower the inmates with legal knowledge and enable them to effectively follow their cases as they undergo trial.

“The paralegal training, we have been conducting for the last 2 weeks at the Nairobi West Prison in partnership with Strathmore University Law Clinic will help inmates have a fair trial and better access to justice,” said Sylvia.

This training has been made possible by our partners AIG, Global Fund for Children, The Kenya Prisons Service, and the National Paralegal Society of Kenya.

“Thousands of innocent people who have gone through the prison system, have been discharged thanks to programs like this,” said Derrick a lawyer from Strathmore University Law Clinic as he encouraged the inmates to stay positive during the training.

Derrick, further stated that the training equips the inmates with the courage to appear before the court and arms them with the possible answers to arguments likely to be raised in court by the lawyers from the Director of Public Prosecutions Office.

Kalonzo a warden at Nairobi West Prison expressed the importance of paralegal training in equipping the inmates on how to handle the court process.

“From this training, I believe many of the inmates will learn how to answer questions and successfully represent themselves in court,” he said.

Nairobi West is the first prison we work in to benefit from paralegal training. Our goal is to reach 10 prisons and equip them with the much-needed knowledge and skills.

citizen TV

Urgent need to curb youth involvement in election violence 

The involvement of youth in election violence in Kenya has been on an increase, a worrying trend as the country nears elections. Politicians from different political parties vying for various positions in the August 9th election have been accused of ferrying youth to political opponent’s rallies to cause havoc and disruptions. 

Speaking during an interview with Sema Na Citizen TVon Friday,  afternoon, Halima Guyo, Project Officer, Crime Si Poa, cautioned the youth against being engaged in political violence due to the severe consequences that follow thereafter. 

“Every electioneering year we witness tens of youth if not a hundred jailed for political-related crimes in Kenya. Already this year a couple of young people are behind bars for such crimes. This can be avoided. Youth must stand for peace and instead ask for manifestos that will help alleviate their lives,” said Halima. 

She further urged the youth to take time and know about individual responsibility and the long-term effect of anything they do. Adding that the youth should avoid being used to committing political violence that will hurt their future employability.

Young people should look beyond elections and the little money they are being given to cause violence. You will need to have good conduct and reputation when seeking job opportunities. Do not allow political acts to put you in the bad books of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations”, added Halima. 

According to Kenneth Kigunda, Crime Si Poa, Communication Specialist Political Analyst, there is a need for the communities to build cohesion amongst themselves and with law enforcement for a speedier resolution of conflicts emerging from the high political temperature in the country.

“In this elections period, we must be on the lookout for people intending to cause trouble. We also need to stop politicians from transporting violence across borders as we have found out that most of those who commit political mayhem don’t come from the locations in which they happen,” lamented Kigunda.

Crime Si Poa is currently holding community forums and paralegal training sessions under Acess to Justice Program in partnership with the criminal justice system across the major cities in Kenya to create awareness among the youth on ways to mitigate crime. 

death penalty

Death Penalty- Dead in practice

The launch of a two-part report by The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) in partnership with the Death Penalty Project, on Tuesday in Nairobi is a huge milestone in the achievement of the abolition of the capital sentence campaign in Kenya.

The report shows that a majority of the Kenyan public is open to the abolition of the hang man’s noose law, as well as the country’s opinion formers, are overwhelmingly in favour of such change.

“In countries that retain the death penalty, governments often cite public support as a key argument against abolition, yet with Kenya, the findings of this research do not support that claim,” said Parvais Jabbar, Co-Executive Director, The Death Penalty Project.

Jabbar further stated that there has been a shift away from the death penalty across Africa, most recently in Sierra Leone, with new plans to abolish announced in Zambia and the Central African Republic.

“It is possible that Zimbabwe and Ghana too will make similar announcements by the end of the year. We hope that we will also see Kenya take steps to remove capital punishment soon and that our research can support policymakers as they consider this important issue,” he added.

Kenya is among the minority of countries that continue to retain the death penalty in law, yet it has not executed any person since 1987. After nearly 35 years without an execution, the new research that sheds light on public openness to abolition might help Kenya to abolish capital punishment.

 “The government should rehabilitate the inmates instead of putting them under the death penalty. This is not the only way to punish convicts. Instead, they should be reformed so they become better people in society. Everyone has the right to live. “We should respect life in any circumstance,” said Dr Raymond Nyeris, KNCHR, Vice Chairman.

He further explained the death penalty is inhuman and is contrary to human rights as life is a fundamental right of everyone.

In 2017, the country’s supreme court declared the mandatory death penalty unconstitutional and since the introduction of discretionary sentencing, the number of death sentences imposed has reduced. However, to date, over 600 people remain on death row.

abolition of the death penalty in east africa

An irreversible sentence that should be abolished in Kenya  

Have you wondered what happens to inmates on death row? Is the death penalty, whose punishment is to hang, still applicable in Africa amidst robust constitutions and ratified statutory laws? What if one was wrongfully convicted?

This among other human rights conversations emerged during a two-day seminar on the abolition of the death penalty in Africa held on the 30th and 31st May 2022 in Nairobi by ECPM (Together against the death penalty) in partnership with Crime Si Poa (CSP).

Speaking during the regional seminar that brought together abolitionist actors from six different countries: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone, Wilfred Nderitu SC, Chairperson at Crime Si Poa, called for the abolition of the death sentence in Kenya and Africa at large stating that one of the greatest risks of the Death Penalty is that it is an irreversible sentence.

“Innocent persons are at risk of being put on death row for fabricated allegations. We have had instances where people have been wrongfully convicted and consequently face execution. This is mostly witnessed in countries that are going through political war, violence and instability,” said Nderitu.

His statement was affirmed by a powerful testimony from Susan Kigula a former death row inmate from Uganda. Kigula was sentenced to death but later pardoned. She was wrongly accused of murdering her husband and her sentence was based on a testimony given by a three-year-old witness. Her traumatic experience led her to be a champion in the fight for the abolition of the death penalty in Uganda.

Despite such powerful testimonies and arguments, various countries in Africa are still unable to pass a bill to abolish the death penalty due to key challenges faced among them the lack of support from the public.

In countries such as DRC, citizens believe that the death penalty discourages criminals from committing massacres. Despite the lack of proof, such sentiments are the root cause of the reluctance by governments to be abolitionists.

 According to Samson Omondi of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, there is a need for abolitionists to make the death sentence abolition conversation all-inclusive to gather support from the public. 

“In most cases, the conversation against the Death Penalty is led by lawyers. Let us broaden the conversation to the public to ensure that our society is part and parcel of the Abolition of the Death Penalty,” he said.

Despite a majority of countries in Africa still enforcing the death penalty, most states consider the death penalty a human rights violation that poses a substantial risk. The African continent has shown remarkable reform speed on the abolition of the death penalty issues over the past decade.

“Since 2015, six African countries have abolished the death penalty. Despite a de facto moratorium, The EU believes that Kenya should take steps to abolish the death penalty once and for all,” stated Henriette Geiger, Ambassador of the European Union (EU) in Kenya.

The two days seminar included parliamentarians, human rights institutions, civil society representatives, actors in the criminal justice system, former death row inmates as well as youth in the fight of making Africa the next abolitionist continent.

paralegals

COMMUNITY-BASED YOUTH VOLUNTEERS SET TO GRADUATE AS PARALEGALS IN WESTERN KENYA

Youths receiving paralegal training in Kisumu

Over 80 community-based youth volunteers from Kisumu and Vihiga Counties are set to graduate after successfully completing a 5-day paralegal training. The training organized by Crime Si Poa (CSP), Access to Justice Programme in partnership with Strathmore Law Clinic aimed at strengthening grassroots communities on legal matters and rule of law.

The training held in Kisumu County brought together legal minds from the Judicially of Kenya, Strathmore Legal Clinic, and Article 19 in empowering youth by equipping them with legal knowledge to serve better their communities. 

During the training Hon. Justice Fred Ochieng’ Presiding Judge, Kisumu High Court praised the youth for participating in the paralegal training terming it a huge milestone towards achieving social transformation through access to justice. 

“Paralegal training at the grassroots such as this is paramount towards the realization of the social justice vision of the Constitution. I urge young people attending these training to take them with utmost seriousness and ensure they use the knowledge and skills to serve their communities,” said Hon. Ochieng’ 

He further urged the youth to fully utilize skills gained to do probono legal services, especially to the most vulnerable members of society. He advised them not to take advantage of the training to extort money from innocent members of the society has witnessed before.

“These skills being learned here today are valuable and can be used to impart the communities you are leaving in. Do not use the skills in the wrong way to harm other community members. As paralegals during this election period advocate for peace and harmony,” He added. 

Among the key learnings shared by the judge to the youth, is how to handle a case as a paralegal and ensure justice is served is through meeting deadlines for the case, learning the elements of the case, and ensuring evidence of the case is admissible. 

According to Linah Akoth, Kisumu High Court Deputy Registrar paralegal trainees should grasp court procedures and make sure they know their way around the court and what to do as they help the communities they serve in Kisumu and Vihiga counties. 

“Paralegals should enhance integrity by being honest and ethical when handling cases. There is also a need for paralegals to understand all institutions involved in the criminal justice system such as law enforcement offices and other stakeholders,” She added.

The curriculum used for training paralegals has been developed jointly by CSP and Strathmore University with great inputs from the paralegal training handbook. 

paralegals

COMMUNITY-BASED YOUTH VOLUNTEERS SET TO GRADUATE AS PARALEGALS IN WESTERN KENYA

Over 80 community-based youth volunteers from Kisumu and Vihiga Counties are set to graduate after successfully completing a 5-day paralegal training. The training organized by Crime Si Poa (CSP), Access to Justice Programme in partnership with Strathmore Law Clinic aimed at strengthening grassroots communities on legal matters and rule of law.

The training held in Kisumu County brought together legal minds from the Judicially of Kenya, Strathmore Legal Clinic, and Article 19 in empowering youth by equipping them with legal knowledge to serve better their communities. 

During the training Hon. Justice Fred Ochieng’ Presiding Judge, Kisumu High Court praised the youth for participating in the paralegal training terming it a huge milestone towards achieving social transformation through access to justice. 

“Paralegal training at the grassroots such as this is paramount towards the realization of the social justice vision of the Constitution. I urge young people attending these training to take them with utmost seriousness and ensure they use the knowledge and skills to serve their communities,” said Hon. Ochieng’ 

He further urged the youth to fully utilize skills gained to do probono legal services, especially to the most vulnerable members of society. He advised them not to take advantage of the training to extort money from innocent members of the society has witnessed before.

“These skills being learned here today are valuable and can be used to impart the communities you are leaving in. Do not use the skills in the wrong way to harm other community members. As paralegals during this election period advocate for peace and harmony,” He added. 

Among the key learnings shared by the judge to the youth, is how to handle a case as a paralegal and ensure justice is served is through meeting deadlines for the case, learning the elements of the case, and ensuring evidence of the case is admissible. 

According to Linah Akoth, Kisumu High Court Deputy Registrar paralegal trainees should grasp court procedures and make sure they know their way around the court and what to do as they help the communities they serve in Kisumu and Vihiga counties. 

“Paralegals should enhance integrity by being honest and ethical when handling cases. There is also a need for paralegals to understand all institutions involved in the criminal justice system such as law enforcement offices and other stakeholders,” She added.

The curriculum used for training paralegals has been developed jointly by CSP and Strathmore University with great inputs from the paralegal training handbook. 

constitution

Partnership with the Judiciary of Kenya to Empower Paralegals

The Judiciary of Kenya has donated hundred (100) copies of the Constitution of Kenya to the Crime Si Poa (CSP), Access to Justice Programme. The donation to support the ongoing training of 80 paralegals from Kisumu and Vihiga counties. The support will enhance the legal knowledge of the youth to serve their communities effectively.

While receiving the donation from the Judiciary, CSP Executive Director, Pete Ouko termed the support, timely and a good gesture towards improving access to justice at the grassroots level under the Sheria Mashinani project.

“CSP appreciates the judiciary’s transformative policy of promoting access to justice for the common mwananchi.  We appreciated the support the judiciary has continuously offered the organization during our regular community dialogue forums in different parts of the country,” Said Pete.

During the presentation of the donation on behalf of the Judiciary, the Communications Advisor in the Office of the Chief Justice, Michael Mumo, shared the vision of the Chief Justice in the promotion of access to justice as a pillar in the social transformation of society. 

“The Judiciary appreciated the work Crime Si Poa is doing in the country. We call upon the organization to always reach out to the judiciary for partnerships that enhance access to justice for all,” said Mumo.

Mumo further said the Chief Justice is keen on ensuring the role of the judiciary to empower citizens and vulnerable groups such as children, persons living with disabilities, the youth, minorities and marginalized groups and elderly members of the society through access to justice.

According to Pete, the judiciary has been supportive of the organization through community dialogues and paralegal training of the young members of the community.

“CSP would like to express its sincere gratitude to Hon. Justice Isaac Lenaola, Judge of the Supreme Court of Kenya, initiated the process that led to today’s event. We would further like to appreciate the support of the Kisumu High Court led by Hon. Justice Fred Ochieng and Deputy Court Registrar, Hon. Lina Akoth for graciously attending and motivating the paralegals during their ongoing training,” concluded Pete.