Every year towards the end of the year the LSK hold a Legal Awareness Week. During this week lawyers in the whole country gather to provide free legal service o the public. Ordinarily, the LSK partners with like minded organizations private, NGO’s, CSO’s and government agencies who are keen on ensuring Access to Justice for all.
The theme of the 2020 LSK Legal Awareness week is ” SECURING CONSTITUTIONALISM & THE RULE OF LAW : REFLECTION
ON 10 YEARS OF THE KENYAN CONSTITUTION”. It is a great time to reflect on whether the expected gains in the Constitution of Kenya 2010 have been realized. Is Kenya more free, fair and just? Have the structures to provide access to Justice in the CoK2010 working as envisioned? What needs to be done for the aspirations of Kenya to be achieved? Are we ok and no change is required?
Primarily during the Legal Awareness Week is the provision of legal advise and literacy to the public. With the enactment of the Legal Aid Act 2016 and launch of Action Plan Legal Aid, Kenya on paper has a framework to provide legal representation to those who cannot afford to hire a lawyer. However, the funds required to put in effect a legal aid system have not been disbursed to date.
The LSK and generally lawyers during partner with Civil Society to reach the mwanainchi who requires this legal aid and service. The benefit of legal services should no longer be a benefit enjoyed by those who are financially able. Every Kenyans should have the right to legal representation as a pillar to fair trial adn access to justice.
There are government agencies that are the forefront of providing legal solutions to mwanainchi. In particular is the Kenya human Rights Commission, Commission on Administrative Justice (Ombudsman) and National Legal Aid Service in the state law office. This is all in furtherance of the governments obligation to its citizens as set out in Article 48 of the Cok2010.
“The State shall ensure access to justice for all persons and, if any fee is
required, it shall be reasonable and shall not impede access to justice.”
Some of the recurrent issues addressed during the Legal Awareness Week are employment, citizen rights, administrative justice, marriage, succession, property rights, GBV, Sexual offices, delayed cases in court, non action by government bodies and agencies.
Consequently, the LSK Legal Awareness week provides a unique platform where a varied mix of stakeholders are available to address the mwanainchi with the common goal of realizing the aspiration of access to justice as set out in Article 48 of the CoK2010.
Although once a year may not be adequate, the scale of the Legal Awareness with thousands of lawyers providing probono service countrywide, is an opportunity for citizens to take advantage of. “Ignorance of the law is no defence” is an old adage and the citizens require take heed and be pro active to protect and enforce their rights. The citizen has an obligation to take ACTION.
Currently, legal services including the probono legal services and legal advise and information are now available electronically. This year the Judiciary has rolled out an e filing systems and online court sessions making it more convenient for court users to access the courts. Some of the online platforms that provide citizens with legal information include various websites of government agencies, law firms, and NGo’s. Also mobile apps like uWakili, LawqueryKenya, M haki and Wakili mkononi to name a few.
In conclusion, access to justice is not a purview of lawyers but requires a concerted effort of the government, judiciary, mwanainchi, lawyers, NGO’s and CSO’s. A lot is being done to equip mwanainchi to help them access justice. Why are various stakeholders pulling together? The are committed to JUSTICE FOR ALL.
“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. ……….. To remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all…”
Elie Wiesel, Nobel Prize for Peace in 1986.