KODIAGA PRISON JUSTICE CENTER- KISUMU
Article 48 of the Constitution of Kenya specifically advocates for access to justice for all. Kituo Cha Sheria has established Prison Justice Centres that are managed and run by trained prison paralegals to assist them self-represent in court, offer legal advice to the other inmates, educating them on criminal law and guiding them on how to confidently represent themselves in Court and empower the entire prison community. Kituo has played a big role in supervising these centres and providing technical assistance in legal matters that need the attention of an advocate. To date, Kituo has established Prison Justice Centres at Shimo La Tewa Men & Women Prisons, Lang’ata Women’s Prison, Kamiti Maximum Prison, Kodiaga, Nyeri Main (King’ong’o) G.K. Prison, Kakamega GK Prison and Meru GK Prison. As a result, inmates and Prison Officers have been able to offer legal aid services to inmates and from 2010 to date 12,000 + inmates have been released following interventions by trained paralegals. The Prison justice centers have significantly contributed to the decongestion of prisons and at the same time made justice accessible to those who could not afford the services of an advocate.
This a report presented during the Access to Justice Day Celebration at the Kodiaga Prison Justice Centre…
PARALEGALS’ REPORT ON PRISONER’S ACCESS TO JUSTICE DAY
We feel humbled to have you here today as we celebrate this year’s prisoner’s justice day. Kisumu justice center was established in the year 2015 after a training of 30 paralegals including 5 prison staff courtesy of KITUO CHA SHERIA who partnered with other organizations such as ICJ, HAKI MASHINANI, KNCHR and LEGAL RESOURCES FOUNDATION. We have today become the pillar of justice in prisons within the entire western region. Prisoners enjoy free legal advice as well as case management in terms of erecting sound grounds for their defense cases and drafting their petitions of appeals to the appellate courts and submissions and as a result, many have regained back their freedom.
We therefore wish to register our sincere appreciations to KITUO CHA SHERIA and their partners for having thought it wise to enjoin us in their vision of making justice accessible to all.
Today, Kodiaga Prison Justice Center-Kisumu is glad to report that a positive impact has been realized by prisoners within the entire western region as far as accessibility to justice is concerned. Expeditious determination of trials and appeals are among the reasons why, today, we celebrate this prisoner’s justice day. We attribute the gains that are being enjoyed by the otherwise considered society misfits to the interventions made by organizations such as KITUO CHA SHERIA, ICJ, HAKI MASHINANI, KNCHR and LEGAL RESOURCES FOUNDATION among others.
Our roles as paralegals at the Kodiaga Prison Justice Center-Kisumu include:-
- Advising and enlightening all prisoners in matters of law.
- Draft petitions and notices of appeal as well as submissions for convicted prisoners.
- Managing cases for unrepresented remand prisoners.
- Sensitizing all prisoners of their fundamental rights as enshrined in the constitution.
- Offer orientation to newly convicted inmates and bring them up to speed with their obligations as per the prison rules and regulations
- Draft inquiry letters elating to appeals for prisoners to different court registries.
- Act as a link between fellow inmates and the prison administration.
As a result of our work, we have managed to register remarkable achievements in the last one year and the same include:-
- A total of 154 petitions of appeals have been lodged to various High Courts within the region with some of them already heard and determined while the others are pending.
- We have managed to lodge 139 notices of appeal to different High Courts within the region for intending petitioners to the Kenya Court of Appeal at Kisumu.
- We have done 101 petitions for re-sentencing to various High Courts within the entire western region with some of them already heard and determined while the others are pending.
- 130 submissions have been written to the Court of Appeal, High Courts and to different Magistrate’s Courts within the region.
- We have recorded 24 acquittals in different High Courts within the region as a result of the submissions drafted by our members.
- We have recorded 15 acquittals in the Court of Appeal at Kisumu as a result of the submission drafted by our members.
- We have recorded 21 reductions of sentences from submissions done by our members in various High Courts within the region and the Court of Appeal at Kisumu.
- 32 remanded self-represented prisoners whose cases were managed by the paralegals were acquitted either for no-case-to-answer or at the judgment stage.
- We have also made several correspondences with various High Courts within the region whereby status of delayed appeals has been reduced.
Kodiaga Prison Justice Center-Kisumu also hosted the President of the Court of Appeal Hon. Mr. Justice William Ouko and we were accorded an opportunity to present our clients’ grievances and have the same addressed with several petitioners being issued with notices to attend court for case management and hearings. The Judiciary in Kisumu also promised to be making regular visits to the prison to address challenges facing prisoner’s cases and expedite matters; this was partly thanks to the good work done by our prison paralegals in presenting quality written submissions to Court.
We however, have faced some challenges in the course of our work and the same are highlighted as follows:-
- Due to the increased workload as a result of the facility’s Maximum Security status holding inmates serving long term sentences from the entire western region, our single computer (Desktop) is highly overwhelmed hence a need for an additional one. We also have a challenge with our HP LaserJet printer which often runs out of the toner and maintaining the same is untenable due to inconsistent funding. We wish to request that your office deem it fit to provide us with another model, preferably EPSON L220.
- We experience inconsistent supply of stationery like printing papers, foolscaps, note books and pens.
- Our team is lacking motivation in terms of personal effects such as toiletries, tooth paste, soap and others. We wish to urge your office to consider providing us with consistent supply of the same to boost our morale in providing the services on pro-bono basis.
- Lack of a legal expert to support us in technical matters still remains a challenge despite several promises of visitation from CLEAR advocates.
- Lack of an up dated library to consist of recent precedents.
- Our strength has gone down to 14 against the initial 25 due to transfer to other prisons for the purpose of hearing of their appeals while some have been released on completion of their sentences and successful appeals or petitions. We wish to request your office to consider training more paralegals.
Dated & Signed this 30th Day of August, 2019.
WRITTEN & COMPILED BY:
CHARLES ENOS MA KOKHA – SECRETARY
ELIUD MOSES APWAPO – CHAIRMAN
GEORGE O. DIANG’A (ACP)
OFFICER IN CHARGE
KISUMU MAXIMUM PRISON