The story of Everlyne
Agutu reads like that of any other middle-aged domestic work woman living in
Nairobi’s informal settlements. She contributes to the country’s economy
performing menial jobs to fend for her family of five; doing laundry,
landscaping and other household jobs in city estates neighbouring her
Kawangware home. This was the routine for the five years Ms. Agutu lived and
worked in Nairobi until January 2008 when she entered into an oral contract of
service with a gentleman to work in his Lavington residence. Based on the oral
contract; the house help salary of Ksh. 4,000 was a major milestone for Ms.
She was comfortable with
the certainty of monthly income and diligently performed all tasks expected of
her with utmost loyalty. Testament to the dedication of most Nairobi domestic
workers; working conditions not withstanding; Ms. Agutu went about her work
without fuss and her monthly salary was progressively revised upwards, first to
Ksh. 7,000 and up to Ksh. 13,000 in 2013. This source of income was regular,
predictable and good enough to sustain Ms. Agutu and her family for all these
The domestic work sector
in the Kenyan economy is not properly regulated yet it plays a key role in
economic growth and development, and is a major source of employment in urban
and peri-urban areas. Domestic workers perform a range of services and tasks
including cooking, cleaning, laundry, child care, elderly care and others as
assigned. But despite performing these essential services for the well-being of
families and the smooth functioning of the national economy, they have long
been ignored in labour legislation and social policy.
Kituo Cha Sheria is dedicated
to the welfare of persons like Ms. Agutu and we recognize that the law on
domestic staff is clear, and simple! Yet the breaches of it are abundant. After
working for over 11 years in one household, Ms. Agutu was unlawfully terminated
on 16th June 2019. Sadly, in Kenya this is the fate of a majority of
domestic workers especially in Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa- employers quote all manner of reasons for unfair
termination- including poor performance, misconduct, petty theft, etc.
Luckily Ms. Agutu was
aware of an organization that exists to take care for justice for the poor and
marginalized people in society- she approached Kituo Cha Sheria for legal
advice and possible instructions in August 2019. Our legal officer Odero
Ramdhan took up the matter and computed terminal dues for Ms. Agutu for the 11
years and 7 months she had worked; the employer was served with the demand for
November, 2019 Everlyne Agutu and her former employer entered into an agreement
on the mode of payment of her full terminal dues in monthly installments. This
matter was resolved without recourse to the legal system- through negotiation
and all parties were satisfied with the outcome. Ms. Agutu is back to working
menial jobs but with the satisfaction that her labour rights were not violated
thanks to Kituo cha Sheria.
Kituo remains committed to helping the disadvantaged, poor and marginalized people in Kenya access justice. We will continue to empower the poor and the marginalized communities and peoples on their human rights and to create avenues for these individuals to effectively access and enjoy these fundamental entitlements.
Mr. John Mukoma had
decided to be generous enough to donate 2 acres of his land to his brothers as
part of the inheritance share his late father was to divide among his sons. Mr.
Mukoma, who had already acquired some land next to his father’s saw it fair to
contribute to the share of land his brothers, who had none, would get. His
generosity was however to be abused by his brothers who decided to turn against
him and demand for more from their brother after the death of their father.
Things got worse when his
brothers turned to violence against Mr. Mukoma and got beaten to near death
prompting him to seek legal redress to solve the issue. Mr. Mukoma looked for a
city lawyer to help him file a criminal suit in 1998 but would later drop him
after he left the country.
Mr. Mukoma would later
hear of Kituo Cha Sheria on radio in 2001 and sought the organization’s help. After
visiting Kituo and having his case taken up by Kituo, the plaintiff sought
orders from the court barring his brothers Michael Kabiti, Josiah Mburu and
Patrick Njubu as 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants
from laying claim to the parcel of land and stop the encroachment. He was able
to prove to the court that he was the rightful owner of the suit parcel of land
No. Gatamaiyu/Kamburu/714. The defendants claimed that Mr. John Mukoma was only
holding the land in their trust, a claim that was challenged by the plaintiff.
After a long court case
characterized with notable no-shows from the defendants, John Mukoma would
later breathe a sigh of relief after the court granted his wishes on 7th
April 2003 declaring that the plaintiff had proven that he owns the land and
does not hold the suit property in trust. The magistrate also questioned why
the defendants would wait for the death of their father to claim.
However, the defendants
would later file an appeal seeking to set aside the judgment of April 2003. The
application was canvassed before Justice Nambuye J (as she was then) and a
ruling was delivered on 24th April 2008 where the initial judgment
of 2003 was set aside and the defendants were granted an opportunity to appear
in court and present their evidence. However, the matter came up severally in
court and the defendants together with their advocates were always absent even
after being served with court papers. In view of this, the plaintiff’s evidence
was not challenged and the court asked for further supporting documents.
The case was therefore
heard in the absence of the defendants and the court upheld that Mr. Mukoma was
the rightful owner of the parcel of land while also finding the defendants
guilty of trespass and ordered awarded the plaintiff KSH. 500,000 in damages.
The judgment was delivered at the Environment and Land Court at Thika by Judge
L. Gacheru on 24th May 2019.
Mr. Mukoma expressed his gratitude to Kituo and particularly to Mr. Kivungi, Advocate Mwariri and Boniface Muinde for walking with him throughout the court case period. Indeed, justice is the tolerable accommodation of the conflicting interests of society, and I don’t believe there is any royal road to attain such accommodation concretely- Judge Learned Hand.
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…
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
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
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
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.
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.
remanded self-represented prisoners whose cases were managed
by the paralegals were acquitted either for no-case-to-answer or at the judgment
We have also made several correspondences
with various High Courts within the region whereby status of delayed appeals
has been reduced.
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
however, have faced some challenges in the course of our work and the same are
highlighted as follows:-
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.
experience inconsistent supply of stationery like printing papers, foolscaps,
note books and pens.
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.
of a legal expert to support us in technical matters still remains a challenge
despite several promises of visitation from CLEAR advocates.
of an up dated library to consist of recent precedents.
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.
K.C.A APPEAL NO.164/2011: CONSTITUTIONAL
PETITION NO. 12 OF 2016.
Koome Igweta was charged with the offence of Murder C/Sec203 as read with Sec 204 of the Penal Code. The
particulars of the offence were that on 12thday of August, 2005 at
Giatune Sub- Location, Mpuri location in Meru Central killed Dorcas Kaguri. The
trial court convicted and sentenced the accused to suffer death as the law
provides. Aggrieved and dissatisfied by the decision of the trial court the
appellant exercised his rights of appeal within 14 days by appealing to the Court
of Appeal in Nyeri vide K.C.A.No 164/2011.
Through a judgement that was delivered on 24thJune 2016 the same was
exhausted all appeal avenues the petitioner filed a constitutional petition under
Article 50 (6) of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 seeking leave to move the
court on matters of New and Compelling Evidence. This was barely two months after
the dismissal of the appeal.
the issues raised by the petitioner were:
the petitioner has suffered both physical and psychological torture for being
deprived the right of life arbitrarily contrary to, or in breach of Article
26(1)(3) of the Constitution of Kenya.
the law was not fully observed when convicting and sentencing the petitioner,
which denied him access to Justice thus breached the provisions of Article 48
of the Constitution of Kenya
the petitioner has new and compelling evidence which will be adduced before
this court during the time of hearing of this application.
the petitioner be allowed to recall both PW2 and PW4 to give their testimony as
new and compelling evidence.
the Mandatory Death Sentence meted
to the petitioner was excessive, arbitrary and inhuman, and deprived the
petitioner’s right to a fair trial contrary to Article 50(2) of the
the end the petition which was before Hon.
Justice Said Chitembwe partly succeeded as follows:
There was No New and Compelling
Evidence to warrant having a retrial,
That the death sentence meted out
to the petitioner is set aside.
The petitioner shall serve twenty
(20) years imprisonment and that the sentence shall run from 10th November, 2005 up to the
date the sentence is completed in 2025.
sentence expiry date being already defined; the appellant was unable to benefit
from the Remission of sentence by
the prison authority.
Paralegal and Human Right Officer
the knowledge that the jurisdiction to adjudicate and determine the issue of
remission of sentence falls within the sole purview of the Kenya Prison Service
as per section 46(1) of the prisons Act
(Cap 90 Laws of Kenya) which gives prison
authorities the power to grant remission of sentences based on good character and industry. Following
his character and good conduct, the petitioner deserved remission to his
sentence as per the above section. Since the judgment delivered on 1/10/2018 limited the prison authority from exercising
this mandate as it defined the expiry date of the sentence as it stated that
the sentence shall run from 10thNovember,2005 up to the date the
sentence is completed in 2025; the Human Rights Officer Mr.Joel Katorima,
through the officer in-charge MeruG.k prison, took the initiative of writing to
the Deputy Registrar Meru High Court seeking
clarification in respect to the petition and advice on how to harmonize it with
the provisions of the Prisons Act as stated above.
indefatigable efforts of the Officer In-Charge
Meru Main Prison- A.C.P. David W. Ndumu and the Human Rights Officer attracted the
unbiased assistance of the office of the
DeputyRegistrar, the office of the D.P.P,
who in turn consulted the higher authorities involved and got a positive
response in favor of the petitioner.
July 2019 a Production
Order was issued by Meru High Court instructing the Officer In-Charge to
produce the petitioner in question before Meru High Court. The petitioner with
the basic knowledge of paralegalism explained himself to the learned
judge,Hon.Said Chitembwe who delivered a judgement in favour of the petitioner
as it reads “The judgement which was delivered
on 1/10/2018 is hereby reviewed. The appellant to serve twenty(20) years
imprisonment from 10/11/2005 and the petitioner to be entitled to remission
under the prison laws”. The matter is
now a success story in that the judge rectified the apparent error and allowed scope for the prison authority to institute
remission of sentence by undoing the definition of the expiry date of
sentence from the judgment. As at now, the
appellant is reintegrated back to the society having benefited from the
remission of sentence.
Moses Ndegwa Ngugi – Crim. Case No.602/17
Ndegwa Ngugi heaved a sigh of relief and shed tears of joy after receiving a
positive judgment from the Chief Magistrates’ Court at Gatundu, Kiambu; the Chief
Magistrate L. M. Wachira found that Moses had no
case to answer and acquitted him under Section 210 of the Criminal Procedure
Code. Moses Ndegwa Ngugi was charged with
the offence of robbery with violence contrary to Section 296 (2) of the Penal
facts of the case being that the
prosecution alleged that on 1st June 2017, at around 1.15am,
the accused person with others not before the court armed with crude weapons
namely axes, pangas and craw bars invaded the house of one Lucy Wanja Waiganjo
and gained entry into her sitting room after cutting the window grills with an
axe and robbed her of her wedding ring, mobile phone make infinix and Kshs.3, 000/-
all valued at Kshs.22,700.
accused was identified in a police parade allegedly based on his voice. Kituo Cha Sheria advocate, Rhoda Maina was on
record on behalf of the accused person and during the hearing, the prosecution
called 5 witnesses and after closing its case, Ndegwa’s advocate filed her
submissions. The Court strongly considered the
circumstances of identification as narrated by the witness and in their
considered view; circumstances on the night were stressful and not suitable for
positive identification of any assailant. The Court further found serious
doubts on the evidence on the question of identification of the suspect who had
been arrested in a police swoop. The Court concluded that the evidence on
record did not put forward a proper case of robbery with violence and if the
accussed was to be placed on defence and chose to remain silent; the evidence
would not sustain a conviction. Accordingly, the accused was set at liberty and
accordingly acquitted under section 210 of the Criminal Procedure Code in a ruling delivered on 12th April
Ndegwa, a young man who was staring at a future despair, was ultimately very grateful
for the assistance offered to him by Kituo Cha Sheria throughout his journey in
the justice system.
This is yet another small victory for a Kenyan who had nowhere to turn to but Kituo Cha Sheria, the people who care for justice for the poor and marginalized people in society.
Success: Vincent Onano Ondego Vincent Onano Ondego approached the Kamukunji Community Justice Centre (KCJC) seeking legal advice and possible representation regarding a dispute with his landlord. Vincent Onano Ondego, a humble, middle-aged man with a family of seven children approached the justice centre in 2018, seven years since he’d heard about the services offered by the justice centre.
Sometime in 2011, a friend
living with Onano in Nairobi’s Majengo neighborhood had informed him of legal
assistance he got from the justice centre in a dispute with his tenant. Mr. Onano
had worked as a night guard for much of his adult life struggling with raising
his family when he unexpectedly lost his job in 2015. Even with this setback,
life had to move on and Onano set up a makeshift ‘kibanda’ on an open space
adjacent to his house to start a shoe-making and repair business. Mr. Onano,
the cobbler thrived in this area and worked at his station until sometime in
August 2018 when he served his landlord with notice to move house. The landlord
turned hostile and claimed ownership of the business operation space as part of
his property. Onano could not fathom this claim as he had painstakingly built
up his premises over time and it was the only source of livelihood for his
Afterwards the landlord locked
his work station illegally, Onano visited the Kamukunji Community Justice
Centre to get assistance. He was directed to the assistant chief who offered
authorization for Onano to continue with his work as the kibanda was on a road
reserve and not on the landlord’s property. The justice centre also wrote a
letter to the landlord asking him to cease the illegal eviction. Armed with the
two letters, Mr. Onano went back to continue with his work, however, the
wealthy landlord co-opted other local administration officials and police officers
to disregard this legal position. Guided by the community paralegals, Onano
approached the rent restriction tribunal and filed a claim. The tribunal is
established under Section 4 of the Rent Restriction Act, Cap 296, Laws of Kenya
and is mandated to determine disputes between landlords and tenants of
protected tenancies, which are residential buildings whose rent does not exceed
On 26th November, 2018 the hearing was conducted and Mr. Onano got orders protecting him from eviction even as he self-represented himself with the guidance of the community paralegals. The orders were served to the area police division head for enforcement and after a tedious process of follow-up process, the business premises were opened and Mr. Onano was back in operation. Mr. Onano was very grateful to the Kamukunji Community Justice centre and the community paralegals for walking the long journey with him to protect his rights. A lot of time was lost when his kibanda was illegally closed but now Mr. Onano is a happy cobbler fending for his family and serving the community.
Success Story: Joseph Onyango Joseph Onyango approached the Kamukunji Community Justice Centre (KCJC) seeking legal advice and possible representation regarding a succession matter in his rural home in Siaya County. Mr. Onyango was a founding member of KCBONET, a local Community Based Organization which is the host entity of the Kamukunji Community Justice Centre. He was therefore not new to the work undertaken by the centre. He sought legal assistance on a succession matter undertaken in 2013.
As a resident of Majengo,
Nairobi, Mr. Onyango was not aware of the process of succession that was
initiated and completed illegally by a member of his family of seven brothers.
The area land registrar undertook sub-division without consultation and
disinherited some members of the estate. In December 2016, with assistance from
the justice centre coordinator Mr. Ezekiel Njenga; Mr. Onyango started the
journey of correcting an injustice. They revived and followed up the case at
the Siaya and Kisumu Law Courts, for three years they together uncovered a lot
of misinformation, lies and forgeries in the succession documents used
including fake names and signatures.
Their hard work paid off when
the Confirmation of Grant was issued by the Court sitting in Kisumu for the
Estate of Mzee Obaki to be re-distributed correctly and involve all members of the
Estate. The Court issued orders for the title deeds to be surrendered to the
land registrar. The succession process will kick-off on the 31st of January,
Mr. Onyango says he’s been helped a lot by the community justice paralegals and while the process has been long the family has got another opportunity to do the right thing and be mindful of all family members.