Kenya on Monday launched a 1.5 million dollar legal aid scheme to boost access to justice for the poor.

Attorney General Githu Muigai stated this at a news conference in Nairobi that the intention of the scheme is to provide legal services for free to those who cannot afford the services of a lawyer.

“In the initial phase, we will focus on providing legal services on the cases that touch on the welfare of children and women,” Muigai said during the launch of the National Legal Aid Service Board which will oversee the legal aid scheme.

The East African nation has been grappling with the issue of how to finance legal services to poor for the past 36 years.

Muigai said that Kenya now has a system to level the legal playing field between those with resources and those without.

The Attorney General said that the board would deliver legal assistance in an efficient manner that enables justice to be dispensed by the courts.

Kenya also plans to use the scheme to resolve the thousands of court cases that are pending before the justice system as poor Kenyans cannot afford the services of a lawyer.

Currently, free legal services are available but are being financed by private citisens and donors.

“However, we fully recognise that a robust functional legal aid scheme can only be government-driven because of the enormous required,” Muigai added.

Government data indicates that Kenya currently has 15,000 advocates licensed to practice in the courts system.

“This figure is not sufficient to cater for the country’s 45 million strong population,” Muigai said.

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