“We must evaluate access to justice from the perspective of the poorest and most marginalized amongst us”
From the cradle of Mankind County of Turkana, Kituo Cha Sheria ended the year 2015 welcoming the Turkana Community Justice Centre to our family.
Led by the Executive Director Ms. Gertrude Angote, Kituo joined the Turkana community and their leaders on 18th December 2015 in Lokichar sub-county, Turkana County.
The noble endeavor that took place at the Kenya Assemblies of God Hall in Lokichar town kicked off at around 10am with tunes from Ekisil Akide- ‘Peace from the South’, traditional dancers.
Opening of the Justice Centre was preceded by graduation of 27 Kituo trained community paralegals from across the vast Turkana county; Lodwar, Loima, Kapitur and Kainuk. The community paralegals underwent an intensive training on basics of paralegalism, Introduction to Law and the Bill of Rights, land laws and labour laws as well as alternative dispute resolution among other topics from 7th-17th of December, 2015. The training was conducted by Kituo officers Marcelino Thuku and Ashioya Biko joined by the Kamukunji Justice Centre Coordinator Ezekiel Njenga.
The community paralegals in Turkana (Lokichar) are expected to bring legal services closer to the community with support from local administrators and players in the justice sector to promote access to justice to the poor and marginalized.
Ricardo Lopetok, speaking on behalf of the graduates, gave a chronology of the journey travelled by the paralegals since 2013 leading up to their qualification and graduation on the December, 18.
He expressed the hope that the new paralegals will work closely with the local Catholic Church and the local administration to ensure the community members access justice.
He urged Kituo to continue walking with them on this journey of legal empowerement.
Fr. John Wabootsa of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (CJPC) in the Diocese of Lodwar also praised the partnership of Kituo, the community and the church in establishing the justice centre primarily to promote justice and challenge oppressive structures in society. He noted all this work was to benefit the marginalized people in society.
The Executive Director Ms. Angote thanked the community for their warm welcome to Lokichar on behalf of Kituo and lauded the community for welcoming Kituo within their community. She explained Kituo’s journey through time from the beginning 43 years ago and indeed emphasized the opening of a Justice Centre in Lokichar was the ultimate achievement of access to justice for the poor and marginalized people.
Kituo’s main goal she said is to empower communities hence the importance of community paralegals in helping the people demand their rights and safeguard them especially with devolution now in the Constitution of Kenya. Community rights and legal empowerment are at the center of such initiatives as the Turkana Community Justice Centre. Extractives industry and land have increasingly become important to the Turkana Community and there’s need to safeguard community rights as a result of these emerging developments.
Aimee Ongeso, the programme coordinator Advocacy, Governance and Community Partnerships at Kituo thanked the partnership and goodwill extended to Kituo Cha Sheria in establishing the Turkana Community Justice Centre by various partners in the community including the church, community leaders including elected leaders and government administrative officers as well as the Judiciary through the Lodwar Law Courts.
In attendance included the Executive Officer at the Lodwar Law Court joseph Elimlim representing the Principal Margistrate, Lodwar; Raphael Loperito, Member of County Assembly-Lokichar; Lawrence Lotomon, MCA and chair of the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee in the Turkana County Assembly; Lillyrose Akori, MCA; Kevin Akeru, Turkana County Assembly Clerk. Also present were Linus Kwemoi, Alexander Munyes from the Department of Children’s Services and the Assistant County Commissioner, Lokichar and the area chief together with sub-county administrators.
Kituo Cha Sheria.