Kituo Cha Sheria (KITUO) partnered with Law Society of Kenya to help Kenyans offer legal aid services to Kenyan citizens during the week long event held at Milimani Law Courts. KITUO had a stand at both venues and was represented by KITUO staff namely; John Mwariri, Boniface Muinde (LAED), Ephraim Kayere (AGCP), Diana Ndashiki (LAED) and Cyprine Momanyi (LAED) and 1 Volunteer Advocate, Tracy Wachira. The number of Volunteer advocates was reduced from 5 to 1 in order for the institution to comply with the Ministry of Health guidelines to ensure prevention of the spread of Covid-19.
We were able to screen Clients and recruit Volunteer Advocates to our Volunteer Advocates Scheme which were the two main goals of the activity.
Despite the low turnout of clients which we attribute to the Covid-19 pandemic, KITUO was able to screen 19 Clients. Some of them were referred to us by the other institutions present such as the National Legal Aid Service (NLAS) and the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC). This expressed the confidence that other institutions have in the services that we provide Kenyan citizens especially the marginalized and vulnerable persons.
9 of these Clients were female and 10 male. We also helped advocates in attendance during the week-long event screen their clients at our stand. However, we did not receive any clients that were persons living with disabilities.
The nature of the cases we noted upon screening the clients was diverse. We received 8 Labor cases, 4 Land cases, 3 Family cases, 3 Succession cases and 1 criminal case.
We were also able to share details on the legal aid mobile platform that we shared with our clients and explained how they could receive legal services through the free text message platform without having to travel long distances to get assistance.
RECRUITMENT OF VOLUNTEER ADVOCATES SCHEME
We were successful in recruiting 139 advocates during the event and several others took with them forms that they promised to share with their colleagues and submit to us through our work email addresses.
The nature of areas of practice was diverse and we were able to recruit Advocates who practiced in conveyancing and criminal cases, areas that we solely do referrals on. This huge number of mostly young advocates was promising as they expressed great interest in giving back to society as they had recently started up their law firms. They were very receptive of the work that we do and were eager to join the scheme.
In carrying out this week-long activity, we faced a challenge with branding. We had no banner showing our donor’s logo and had to work with a banner from our Mombasa Offices under a different donor.
The second challenge we faced was that we did not have adequate reading material for the Clients and advocates that visited our stands.
The Client turnout was low and this was evidenced by the advocate to client ratio. We had to allow the advocates at both venues screen some of the clients that visited our stand.
Some of the Clients expressed that accessing Supreme Court was a bit intimidating to them because they only saw it on television and some felt that they were underdressed to access the venue.
We noted that there is need to update our booklets, flyers and brochures. A publication that was prepared by the LAED Programme on Covid-19 and Labor laws would have been beneficial to our beneficiaries as 42% of the Clients we screened had labor issues most of which arose during Covid-19 pandemic period.
We also learned that there is need to update two parts of our volunteer advocate forms. We need to do away with the provision for details on fax. Additionally, we also need to be more specifics with the areas of practice and break down land and include conveyancing.
The activity was successful and the team at KITUO was able to gain a lot of insight from other lawyers and exchange contacts that will be valuable to the work that we do assisting our clients. We are now working on updating our database on the volunteer advocates to include young, energetic lawyers who are willing to take on matters and serve the public. We were also able to give our Clients dates to visit us at our offices for further directions on how to pursue justice in their individual cases.
Lastly, we look forward to working with the Law Society of Kenya in future to help assist Kenyans easily access justice.