Today, Kituo Cha Sheria turns 47! We continue to stay true to our vision to ensure that poor and marginalized communities are able to get access to justice through legal aid, legal education, legal representation, advocacy, community partnerships, networking and research.
Kituo Cha Sheria was established in 1973 by a group of young lawyers who saw the need for the poor to access legal advice and justice. Having been in existence for forty-seven years, KITUO stands as the oldest and most experienced legal aid and empowerment organization in Kenya. As such, KITUO has, for over forty years, implemented projects funded by diverse development partners that involve direct legal assistance, policy, advocacy, lobbying, legal empowerment of communities through paralegalism, capacity building, development and dissemination of legal information manuals and booklets, legal awareness raising through innovation (for example, M-Haki platform) and media engagement, public interest litigation, volunteer advocates recruitment and referral system and justice stakeholder networking and engagement.
In the past year, we have been fortunate to have Dr. Annette Mbogoh, who has worked with us from the year 2009, take on the role of Executive Director at KITUO. Through her input and collaborative efforts by all the stakeholders at KITUO, we have been able to carry out our mandate to Kenyans effectively despite the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Continued support to our beneficiaries during the Covid-19 Pandemic
KITUO earlier on at the onset of the Coronavirus crisis in Kenya issued notice to clients, partners, service providers, community members and the general public at large that management had taken the decision to close KITUO offices starting Monday, 16 March 2020. This decision was taken in response to the safety measures outlined by H.E. the President of the Republic of Kenya and our commitment and obligation to support the government’s effort in safeguarding the nation against the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.
Some of the measures/activities that KITUO has undertaken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic include:-
Despite the scale down all its activities that relate to serving large number of beneficiaries in our offices and in the field, we have taken on all urgent or fixed court matters (subject to direction of the Judiciary), pre-planned donor engagements and essential services e.g. security.
KITUO Legal Officers have been attending virtual court sessions and have successfully filed a public interest (PIL) petition on behalf of inhabitants of Marereni, Magarini constituency, Malindi district (Salt Belt area).
KITUO has used the HAKI blog website as well as all its social media streams to share general information about COVID-19 including information on how the disease is spread, symptoms, how to protect oneself and important contact information for the public during the pandemic. We have also used our online spaces to share on some of the emerging issues during this period.
Furthermore, we issued a press release to call for a nationwide moratorium on forced evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic including mental health awareness material. Furthermore, we have organized and participated in several Webinars and virtual meetings discussing issues touching on the impact of Covid-19 on the poor and vulnerable in society and access to justice during the pandemic.
We have a dedicated mobile number-0700777333 where the public can text legal questions at the normal SMS charges to be answered by KITUO lawyers and volunteer advocates through the M-Haki platform. Moreover, we are in the process of setting up a Toll free number to serve KITUO’s poor and marginalized clients and complement M-Haki during this period and in future.
Through our Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Programme, we have continued to offer local/outside support aimed at protecting or promoting psychosocial well-being and/or prevent or treat mental disorders. This activity is ongoing through regular virtual- Zoom sessions.
Lastly, we continue to monitor the human rights situation at the grassroots and within communities where we work through our community paralegals and have been able to employ alternative dispute resolution mechanisms such as negotiation and mediation to help prevent Gender based violence (GBV) which has been highlighted to be on the rise during this time.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our stakeholders for working with us throughout this year and invite all of you who care for justice to journey with us and share your noble ideas, support and resources towards the achievement of the call for legal aid, legal empowerment and social justice.