Kituo Cha Sheria and the HIV/AIDS Tribunal signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 24th June 2020 to promote access to justice for the many indigent litigants frequenting the Tribunal. The HIV/AIDS Tribunal is a quasi-judicial organization established under section 25 of the HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Act (HAPCA) No. 14 of 2006. Its mandate is to hear and determine complaints arising out of any breach of the provisions of the HAPCA. The Tribunal’s specific objectives are to ensure justice and restore rights and dignity for persons living with HIV and to eliminate all forms of discrimination, stigmatization and rights violations that result either directly or indirectly to one’s HIV status or perceived status.
On the other hand, KITUO is a human rights non-governmental organization whose objective is to empower the poor and marginalized people to effectively access justice and realize human and people’s rights. KITUO employs among others single welfare and public interest litigation cases for indigent and marginalized clients such as people living with HIV with the aim of safeguarding and enforcing the Constitution of Kenya 2010.
The Memorandum of Understanding was signed at the Kituo Cha Sheria Head Office in Nairobi by the KITUO Board of Directors Chair Mr. Justus Munyithya and the HIV/AIDS Tribunal Chair Ms. Helene Namisi. Through this collaboration, KITUO in-house counsel and volunteer advocates will provide legal aid services such as court representation, drafting of pleadings, coaching for self-representation and legal advice and awareness to indigent litigants in the HIV/AIDS Tribunal. In return, the Tribunal will refer needy litigants and enhance the capacity of Kituo staff and volunteer advocates on matters relating to its mandate, practice in the Tribunal and emerging issues around discrimination on grounds of HIV/AIDS status.
The MoU signing was witnessed by a KITUO General Assembly and founding member Mr. Steve Adere, the Tribunal’s CEO Ms. Annerita Murungi and volunteer advocate Mr. John Chigiti. Also present at the short ceremony were community paralegals Mr. Ezekiel Njenga, Jamia Abdulrahim and Mr. Michael Odhiambo together with the team representing Kituo led by programme manager Mr. John Mwariri and Dianah Ndashiki.
Speakers at the signing ceremony emphasized the necessity of this move noting that litigants at the Tribunal have for far too long suffered due to lack of legal representation and a myriad of challenges to access justice. The COVID-19 pandemic situation has also made an already bad situation worse with poor and marginalized persons facing multiplicity of problems including forced evictions, SGBV, job losses, among others.
KITUO welcomes this partnership and re-commits to continue to pursue social transformation of indigent Kenyans through legal aid and empowerment, advocacy and lobbying for pro-poor policies and commitment to respect for human rights.