On September 8th and 9th 2016 marked the paralegals’ Summit at the Laico Regency Hotel, Nairobi. The two-day summit was organized by Kituo Cha Sheria in conjunction with the Legal Resources Foundation (LRF) and was attended by community paralegals from various counties in Kenya.
The summit addressed pertinent issues affecting paralegals key among them: clarifications on the Legal Aid Act, 2016, accreditation of paralegals, development of a syllabus for paralegal training by the Paralegals Support Network (PASUNE) and clear outline of the duties of a Paralegal and their work ethics.
Addressing the paralegals during the Summit’s day two, Kituo Cha Sheria’s Executive Director, Ms. Gertrude Angote welcomed and appreciated the work done by paralegals. She encouraged them to continue serving the poor and marginalized saying that it is GOD that would see their work and appreciate them more than any man would. Giving an example of a meeting she had just attended in Norway, Ms. Angote said that the work of paralegals is recognized globally and that our paralegals here in Kenya were doing great work.
“Let’s take advantage of the developments in the Constitution to be able to work more efficiently and serve better,” she told the paralegals. This was in reference to the Legal Aid Act, 2016 that had been signed into law. The Director lauded the move saying this was a milestone in provision of legal services to the poor in as far as access to justice is concerned.
Also present at the Summit was Kibra MP, Hon. Ken Okoth who gave a keynote speech on day one and also responded to various questions raised by the participants. He appreciated the work paralegals do and civil societies like Kituo Cha Sheria in general. He assured the participants that Members of Parliament will do everything possible from their end to defend justice. This would be through, legislation, oversight and representation.
During the Summit, officers from both Kituo Cha Sheria and Legal Resources Foundation led by Kituos’s Ashioya Biko took the paralegals through the Legal Aid Act, 2016 allowing them to ask questions for clarifications. Pivotal points of discussion were accreditation of paralegals and qualification to be a paralegal.
In response to some of the issues, the Officers said issues of accreditation would be clearly outlined once the Legal Aid Act is operationalized and Legal Aid Board setup. On the issue of training and syllabus, officers from PASUNE said that they were in the process of developing a new syllabus for paralegal training which will encompass new areas such as a chapter on Migrants. They added that refresher courses were necessary for paralegals. The officers also cautioned that a certificate of participation is not an accredited certificate of a paralegal.
We Care for Justice.