Some inmates are behind bars because they cannot afford advocates-, do not know how to represent themselves and are intimidated by the Courts. On the 27th of July – 5th of August , 2015 Kituo cha Sheria, in partnership with ICJ-K, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights Haki Mashinani and LRF empowered prisoners and prison warders at the Kisumu Main Prison(K’odiaga) on the criminal trial process and self-representation so that they can in turn offer legal aid services to the wider K’odiaga prison community. Access to justice is a right guaranteed for all in the Constitution.
A fact finding mission conducted by Kituo advocates revealed that K’odiaga had more remandees than any other prison. The findings were that the prisoners and remandees greatly require legal empowerment on how to conduct self-representation in court, how to adduce evidence if any, how to cross examine witnesses, how to write their submissions, how to make mitigation statements, how to make interim applications such as those for bond, bail, certificates, how to request for documents and how to lodge a complaint against judicial officers.
On the part of the prison officers, they requested that they be educated or to have their capacity built especially with regards to the Constitution, laws governing prisons and the general administration of justice, to be trained on how to draft pleadings to enable them assist the in-mates, those on remand or in custody.
The K’odiaga training was historic because it was part of build up activities held towards Prisoners’ Justice Day that was commemorated for the first time in Kenya on 10th August 2015.