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 10,000 + 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.
These are some Success Stories from the Kakamega Prison Justice Centre…
I. Jackson Sikunga Maloba alias Stephen Opondo Raimondi
OFFENCES: C1. Obtaining money by false pretence C2. Unlawfully making use of another person’s identity card C/sec 313 pc and 14(1) (f) of the registration of persons Act Cap107 Laws of Kenya respectively. CRC No. 1053/2012. SPM;s Court Mumias
Jackson Sikunga Maloba was remandee at the Kakamega Prison where he found the Prison Paralegals ready to assist him with his matter. Among some of the issues raised included; he claimed the case was a frame up, his advocate was not representing him well; his bond pending appeal was dismissed-HCCR. MISC. APP. 33/2016 to which he appealed to the High Court vide HCCR.A No 62/2016. Mr. Sikunga claims he was ailing and even walking had become a problem as he was continually being helped by other prisoners to get his meals or even clean up himself and his clothing. The basis of his appeal was a request for mercy from the courts.
The prison paralegals took up this matter and advised that he should regularly take his drugs and continue to do some walking within the compound. They also recommended that the prison social welfare officer should call his lawyer to come and give him assurances on the progress of his case. The prison documentation office should help him request a review of his sentence. The prison paralegals also advised that the prison medical officer to write a supporting report on his medication.
The Officer-In-Charge wrote to the High Court to review Mr. Sikunga’s sentence on 2nd February 2017 VIDE: KAK/G/DOC/P/1/VOL. XXII/360 and Mr. Sikunga was discharged on bond pending appeal on 17th March, 2017. Successful.
II. Derrick Onyango
OFFENCES: Being in possession of narcotic drugs C/Sec. 3(1) and 3(2) (a) of the narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. CRC No. 2010/017. CRM’s Court KAK-1 year sentence
Mr. Onyango who was a 21 years old University student was arrested while at the Nakumatt Supermarket in Kakamega town buying rizzler papers and found in possession of a stick of bhang. He informed the prison paralegals that he needed to be helped to go back to school and continue with his studies. He was subsequently advised to write a petition to the High Court for revision of his sentence and that he should attach his admission letter, course programme, student ID and if possible a letter from the university confirming his continuation.
The prison paralegals drafted the petition for Mr. Onyango which was received by the High Court on 11th August, 2017- HCCR. Misc APPL No. 63/2017. He attended Court for the application severally for mentions of the same and was discharged on 26th September 2017 to serve One Year Community Service Order (C.S.O). Successful.
III. Sammy Ongadi
OFFENCE: Defilement C/Section 8 (1) as read with Section 8 (2) of the Sexual Offences Act No. 3 of 2006. CRC No. 316/2012- SPM’s Court, Vihiga.
Mr. Ongadi approached the Kakamega Prison Justice Centre with a pending appeal at the High Court in Kakamega seeking help to inform the Court about his ailment in prison and the fact that he had not received proceedings to enable him prepare submissions. The prison paralegals advised him to swear an affidavit enumerating his ailments and assisted him in writing an application for court proceedings.
A request for proceedings was subsequently forwarded by the Justice centre on 7th April 2017 together with Mr. Ongadi’s affidavit which was forwarded on the same day. On hearing of his matter the prisoner was discharged by appeal on 23rd October 2017. Successful.
IV. Javan Anyanga
OFFENCES: C.T I: Gang Rape C/Sec 140/PC C.T. II: Defilement 8(1) and 8(3) C.T. III: Defilement 21/2/2008. CRC No. 65/2007-SRM’s Court Mumias. Sentence: Life
When Mr. Javan Anyanga presented his matter to the Kakamega Prison Justice Centre; his appeal had already taken long. Mr. Anyanga had become visually impaired while in prison and was requesting assistance with fast tracking of the case.
The prisoner serving a life sentence was advised to write a reminder to Court (which the prison paralegals drafted on his behalf) and was also advised to see the prison medical officer to draft for him a report to support his submissions.
The parlagals prepared the reminder which was presented to the Court together with a report from the prison medical officer to support his submissions. Mr. Anyanga was consequently discharged by appeal on 23rd October 2017. Successful.
Kituo Cha Sheria.