Kenya on Friday launched a programme aimed at improving access to justice in the country, especially in historically marginalised communities.
Chief Justice, David Maraga, said this at the launching of the Legal Empowerment and Aid Delivery (PLEAD) programme in Nairobi.
Maraga said the programme was expected to advance access to justice interventions that will ultimately deepen the realisation of constitutional guarantees to the right to equality and justice for all citizens.
“This programme will enable us offer judicial services to indigent litigants in a manner consistent with the constitution,” Maraga said during the launch.
The 42 million dollar five-year programme, funded by the EU, will enhance the efficient delivery of justice and alternatives to imprisonment in Kenyan criminal justice system, he said.
It will also help improve case flow management system, reduce prison overcrowding and reduce backlog of cases.
“While there is still a significant backlog of cases that have not been resolved, the ongoing accelerated case clearance programme will see most of these cases concluded by end of 2018,” Maraga said.
He said as the courts expand, court presence in some of the far-flung regions now require legal aid.
“It is only when justice reaches the weak, and the rule of law protects the needy, that we, as a country, can say that our constitution is living up to its juridical and developmental promise of equality and equity,” he said.
He called on the government to consider additional budgetary allocation in addition to support from development partners.
Bruno Pozzi, Deputy Ambassador of the EU Delegation to Kenya, said the programme is the largest project of the EU to date in the justice sector in sub-Saharan Africa.
“It is our expectation that special attention is given to the needs of women especially to access legal aid and also reduce arraigning petty offenders before a court of law,” he said.