Justice Innovation in Kenya: a case study

On 27th August 2020, 10th Constitution Day of Kenya, the Alternative Justice Policy was officially launched by the Hon. Chief Justice of Kenya, David Maranga. The launch took place in the presence of the Alternative Justice Systems (AJS) Task Force among the members of the judiciary. The Policy and the Hackathon that followed showcased HiiL’s contribution to different facets of fostering justice innovation through its unique methodology and way of working.

Justice Needs and Satisfaction Survey in 2017
The event was the culmination of a 3-year engagement with the  Judiciary in Kenya which had initially commissioned HiiL with the creation of a Justice Needs and Satisfaction Survey (JNS) in 2017. The JNS aimed at understanding justice needs of the people in Kenyan.

The launch of the AJS Policy proves the transformative nature of the judiciary. It joins mediation and arbitration that have already been rolled out with tremendous success. – Hon. Anne Amadi – Chief Registrar of Kenya Judiciary

The HiiL team surveyed more than 6.000 adults in Kenya and organised more than 30 interviews with justice leaders to get a comprehensive 360 view of the legal experience in Kenya. The report can be accessed here.

The report provided a comprehensive picture of the justice journeys of Kenyan people, seeking to strengthen ties between formal and informal justice systems while making a case for encouraging, building and sustaining an ecosystem of justice innovation. The report and data presented struck a chord with the Judiciary in Kenya, which set up a Multi-Stakeholder Task Force on 29th February 2016 appointed by the former Hon. the Chief Justice of Kenya, Dr. Willy Mutunga.

Alternative Justice Systems Task Force
The mandate of the Taskforce was to develop a policy to mainstream Alternative Justice Systems (AJS) to enhance access to and expedite justice delivery. The AJS Taskforce put together a Policy on Alternative Justice Systems, which relies heavily on the findings of the HiiL JNS (Page 9 of the Baseline Document, Page 3 of the Policy Framework).

The AJS Policy provides far-reaching changes to promote and enhance the mainstreaming of emerging and cross-cutting issues in AJS legislation, policy and mechanisms. This includes procedural and substantive legislative changes while stressing the importance of innovative ways to integrate AJS with the traditional justice delivery mechanism.

Legal Hackaton
To add to this synergy of research leading to transformation on the ground, HiiL’s work on justice innovation was furthered by a Legal Hackathon. Along with the launch of the Policy,  Lawyers Hub Kenya was invited to organise a Legal Hackathon to inculcate the spirit of entrepreneurship in justice delivery as well as to create and support new initiatives. Lawyers Hub is a technology-policy organisation and an active collaborator of the HiiL Justice Accelerator and its supported innovators in the region.

The winner of the Hackathon, Justice by Allan Mutuma and team, were supported by HiiL with a prize amount of 1.000 EUR. Their winning idea aims to facilitate the Alternative Justice System policy by linking disputants with village elders, local Church leaders and acknowledged conflict resolvers via a web based platform supported by a USSD code.

HiiL’s approach in action
From organising the Justice Needs and Satisfaction Survey to supporting the Hackathon to develop new justice innovations – HiiL’s approach of research, supporting justice leaders with data to bring transformation and forming part of the local ecosystem to inculcate innovation –  came alive to further user-friendly justice.