DSCN0002On the 12th of February 2020, the HIV and AIDS Tribunal visited the KITUO offices to hold a meeting to express their interest in a collaboration between the two institutions for legal representation for some of the persons who come to the Tribunal with disputes and have no funds to appoint a lawyer to pursue their legal rights.

The members present at the meeting were Helene Namisi, the current chairperson of the HIV and AIDS Tribunal; Annerita Murungi, of the HIV and AIDS Tribunal;  Dr. Annette Mbogoh, the Executive Director, KITUO Cha Sheria; John Mwariri, the Legal Aid Co-ordinator; Ambrose Njagi, a Legal Officer at Kituo Cha Sheria and Tracy Wachira, a Volunteer Advocate at Kituo Cha Sheria. The HIV and AIDS Tribunal was established in 2006 by virtue of Section 25 of the HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Act.  However, it came into operation in 2012.  The Tribunal’s offices are at the NHIF Building 15th floor, Ragati road where it sits at least once a week on Friday to carry out its mandate to hear and determine complaints arising out of any breach of the provisions of the HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Act. Most of the matters the tribunal receives are on Disclosure of HIV status without consent, testing without informed knowledge, testing without counseling and stigma. The Tribunal has been able to record 100 judgments as at February 2020 and has judgements delivered each week. Furthermore, the Tribunal is working on hearing and determining matters in the shortest time possible.

They shared with us on the challenge they were facing as a result of non-representation of people who lodge their complaints with the tribunal. Most of them are from slums and rural areas which means they are not capable of representing themselves or getting access to legal representatives.

This challenge was occasioned by the move to have tribunals under the Judiciary which has faced a lot of challenges with regard to funding. Previously the Ministry of Health was in charge of funding the HIV and AIDS Tribunal.

Dr. Annette Mbogoh welcomed the idea to collaborate and stated that KITUO has a volunteer advocates scheme that consists of trained advocates who help KITUO in their mandate to make justice easily accessible for the socially and economically disadvantaged persons in society. Dr. Mbogoh also mentioned that there have been previous and continued collaboration with the Rent Restriction Tribunal who refer cases to KITUO for persons who are unable to afford to pay for legal services.

KITUO expressed its interest in taking on public interest cases that are in the jurisdiction of the Tribunal as well as discrimination cases which the Tribunal has no jurisdiction to decide on.

There was a discussion on what would happen if there is a dispute between two people where one claims another disclosed his or her status without consent and it is the word of one against the other. It was clarified in such cases that there has to be evidence through a third party that there was disclosure of status by the person against whom such allegations were made.

KITUO suggested that they could invite the Tribunal for the recruitment drives across the country to share more on the tribunal, how it works and how the advocates can help ensure that those who have heard their rights violated get the necessary redress. This suggestion was accepted by the Tribunal representatives who acknowledged that it would be impactful as most of the cases they receive are from persons who reside outside Nairobi.

It was agreed that the HIV and AIDS Tribunal would prepare a collaboration document to KITUO and form a relationship that would see even more disadvantaged people getting access to justice.

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