Prison paralegal justice centres

Prison paralegal justice centres 04 November 2012

Finding that many incarcerated in Kenyan prisons were unaware of their rights, a group of inmates have been trained as paralegals on criminal law procedure.

In a tourist town near to Mombasa, Kenya, men suspected of homosexuality were being arrested arbitrarily and sometimes assaulted. Through intervention from lawyers Kituo Cha Sheria it was discovered that along with this minority group, many people were in prison due to lack of knowledge about their rights, high legal fees and illiteracy.

With the cooperation between Kituo Cha Sheria (the Kenyan Centre for Legal Empowerment) and the prison authorities, a group of inmates were trained as paralegals on criminal law procedure. Their output was enormous judging by the number of appeals, submissions, court petitions, letters and acquittals. Of most importance is the landmark case by the prisoners in Shimo La Tewa prison in 2010 that allowed them to vote in the referendum. Due to this success the paralegal association in Shimo la Tewa is fully pledged with a complete justice centre where they attend to other inmates and have a space where they can conduct their paralegal affairs. Now five years later, this initiative is being replicated in two other prisons.

Six successful innovations and six innovative ideas were nominated for the 2012 Innovating Justice Awards held on 2 November 2012. We feature them in a series of insights on the HiiL website.

Read more about this original innovation on the Innovating Justice website.


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