Kamiti Maximum Prison Justice Centre Paralegal Refresher Training Graduation Day & Access to Justice Day 2018
“Use the knowledge you have acquired for the benefit of others”, Ms. Annette Mbogoh.
On Friday, 20th April, 2018 Kituo cha Sheria commemorated the Access to Justice Day at the Kamiti Maximum Prison in Nairobi. The day also saw 30 prison paralegals that had undergone an intense week-long paralegal training graduate. The Kamiti Prison Justice Centre was launched in the year 2012 with an initial training of 30 paralegals including inmates and prison wardens out of which only seven (7) remained in the justice centre before this refresher training.
The day was celebrated to acknowledge the contributions of the prison paralegals as they play a big role in educating inmates about their legal rights to appeal for justice.
There were many activities organized by the prison inmates to celebrate the achievements of Kituo’s paralegals at the prison justice centre. The day started-off with a tree planting ceremony followed by a colorful cultural program of song and dance with performance by the Kamiti Maximum Prison Band. There was an enjoyable moot court skit presented by the prisoners which showcased their learning and understanding of bail and bond, community service order, legal representation and other judicial procedures, as tutored by the prison paralegals.
Speaking at the event, Kituo’s Coast Regional office Coordinator, Ms. Annette Mbogoh who represented the Executive Director at the event said that the Prison Justice Centers which are managed and run by trained paralegals has been a hugely successful model for Kituo.
The prison paralegals assist other inmates to self-represent in court, offer legal advice to the other inmates, educate them on criminal law and guide them on how to confidently represent themselves in court and empower the entire prison community. Kituo has played a big role in supervising these centres and providing technical assistance in legal matters that need the attention of an advocate. In addition, Kituo conducts refresher trainings in the justice centres as was the case at the Kamiti prison justice centre.
Ms. Annette Mbogoh added that there has been a big impact of the Justice Centres and the services they offer to the population in the prisons resulting in the release of a big number of prisoners, successful filing of appeals both at the High Court, Court of Appeal and even the Supreme Court. The Kamiti Prison Justice Centre can so far account for 1,150 appeals filed in various High Courts and Court of Appeal stations countrywide. The prison paralegals have already prepared 260 petitions based on Petition No. 15 of 2015 (as consolidated with petition No. 16 of 2015) between Francis Karioko Muruatetu (1st Petitioner) and Wilson Thirimbu Mwangi (2nd Petitioner) and the Republic (Respondent) in which the Supreme Court of Kenya declared mandatory death sentence as no longer lawful in Kenya (December, 2017). The Supreme Court declared Section 204 of the Penal Code, which stipulates mandatory death sentence, as unconstitutional in a matter petitioned by Francis Karioko Muruatetu one of the Kamiti prison paralegals.
Giving the keynote address, Ms. Annette Mbogoh appreciated the work of the paralegals and expressed her satisfaction in seeing prisoners being able to self-represent and access justice within the prison. She further urged those who had the opportunity to qualify as paralegals to use the knowledge acquired for the benefit of others in the prison community and those outside once they are out; citing the Francis Muruatetu petition in particular. The prison justice centre representative presented challenges faced by the inmates as well the major milestones achieved including successful appeals.
Kituo Cha Sheria remains a constant friend of the poor and the marginalized helping them to access free legal aid to ultimately achieve justice.