Department of Refugee services obligations and responsibilities regarding Refugee right to family unity

Legal Right, Humanitarian Principle, and Key to Durable Solutions

The right to family unity is inherent. This right applies to all human beings, regardless of their status. Few human rights instruments, however, are explicit about how and where this right is to be effected in relation to families that have been separated across international borders.

For refugees and those who seek to protect them, the right to family unity implies a right to family reunification in a country of asylum, because refugees cannot safely return to their countries of origin in order to enjoy the right to family life there (Refugee Protection in International Law UNHCR’s Global Consultations on International Protection, pp. 555 – 603)

The integrity of the refugee family is both a legal right and a humanitarian principle; it is also an essential framework of protection and a key to the success of durable solutions for refugees that can restore to them something approximating a normal life.

Respect for the right to family unity requires not only that States refrain from action which would result in family separations, but also that they take measures to maintain the unity of the refugee family and reunite family members who have been separated, especially where the refugee family has no realistic possibilities for enjoying that right elsewhere. ( UNHCR, Summary Conclusions, Family Unity, above fn. 5, para. 5)

The separation of families when people flee persecution and conflict can have devastating

consequences to their wellbeing and ability to rebuild their lives. At the moment of flight, families are forced to leave without knowing if their families are safe. Once in safety, refugees are

often unaware of the whereabouts of their family. (See generally, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Refugee Family Reunification. UNHCR’s Response to the European Commission Green Paper on the Right to Family Reunification of Third Country Nationals Living in the European Union (Directive 2003/86/EC), February 2012, available at:, p. 3)

The Problem of Geographic Separation within Kenya

The Department of Refugee Services (DRS) plays a central role in ensuring refugees family unity. However, current practices during admission, status determination, and designation of residence leads to family separation. For instance, assigning residence to some family members in Nairobi while placing others in Kakuma or Kalobeyei undermines their right to family unity. The Department of Refugee Services should take proactive steps to ensure family unity is a key principle consideration when placing refugees in designated areas.

Protection of the right to refugee family environment requires that the states (department of refugee services) not only refrain from actions which could result in family separation or other arbitrary interference in the right to family life, but also take positive measures to maintain the family unit, including the reunion of separated family members.(CMW and CRC Committees, Joint General Comment on the general principles regarding the human rights of children in the context of international migration, above fn. 24, para. 27.)


In Marckx v. Belgium, it has ruled that “ensuring respect for family life is an obligation for the State to act in a manner calculated to allow these ties to develop normally” and “to allow those concerned to lead a normal family life.( Marckx v. Belgium, Application No. 6833/74, ECtHR, 13 June 1979, available at:, paras. 45 and 31.) this principle that the State may be required affirmatively to promote family life has been repeated in the case, Gül v. Switzerland.

Rayment and Others v Minister of Home Affairs and Others; Anderson and Others v Minister of Home Affairs and Others (CCT 176/22) [2023] ZACC 40 (4 December 2023) where the issues to the Right to dignity and family life was raised and determined.



Housing, land and property are rights guaranteed under Article 13 and 21 of the convention on the status of Refugees 1951. Refugee in Kenya face barriers in leasing land and houses much alone own one. As results refugee often end up in substandard housing, residing in informal settlement with insecure rights which negatively affects their health, access to education and economic status.

The Shirika Plan: A Bold Vision for Integrated Settlements

 The government of Kenya’s’ bold, Socioeconomic Hubs for Integrated Refugee Inclusion in Kenya- Shirika Plan envisions in its core pillars, “transforming the refugee camps into integrated settlements supporting the socioeconomic inclusion of refugees and hosting communities in Garissa, Turkana, and urban areas.

The four Core pillars of the Shirika Plan are;

 (i) Ease the pressure on refugee-hosting communities in Garissa, Turkana, and urban areas by mobilizing additional financial, technical, and material support in the spirit of responsibility sharing;

 (ii) Facilitate the transition from refugee camps set up to integrated human settlements and robust economic hubs;

(iii) Enhance refugee and host community socio-economic inclusion for enhanced self-reliance and resilience;

(iv) Facilitate the transition of refugee basic service delivery from humanitarian-led approach to government systems.

I will delve into the second pillar, “transition from refugee camps set up to integrated human settlements.”

Legal Framework for Land Rights in Integrated Settlements especially the Community land.

Chapter 5 of the constitution Of Kenya, mandates that land be held, used and managed in an equitable, efficient, productive and sustainable manner.

 Land in Kenya is held in three tenure regimes public, community and private. (Article 63 COK)

Community land tenure, is the common land tenure held in Turkana and Garissa hence it will be the base of our discussion with regards to the Kenyan law response to the “Refugee Integrated settlement” vision.

 Community land is vested in communities identified based on ethnicity, culture or similar community of interest. The County government holds unregistered land in trust for the communities for which it is held.

 The Constitution expressly dictates who and/or what constitutes a community for the purposes of landholding. The Community Land Act, however regulates the designation of various land use rights on community land of interest, more specifically, Section 29(b) and (g), provides the use of the land as settlement areas; and any other purpose as may be determined by the community, county government or national government for the promotion of public interest respectively.

 It would be important to note that sometimes there is conflict between the government and communities, on what a particular piece of land has been set apart for by the government and what the locals believe their ancestors or their culture stipulates, which conflict is to be anticipated in this engagement.

With the passing of the Refugee Act, 2021, (Section 28 (4), which gives refugees the chance to be gainfully employed and take part in Kenya’s economic and social development, will result in a noticeable and welcome improvement to Kenya’s response to refugees by working toward a whole-of-government approach to unlocking the potential for refugees in the country to significantly boost Kenya’s economy, where renting and leasing property will contribute to the Shirika vision.

Key Considerations for Implementing Integrated Settlements.

In conclusion, the responses that the author foresees in the implementation of the bold “Refugee integrated settlement is;

First, community land must be used for the benefit of the community, in compliance with the law and the rules and regulations established by the community. However, community land may be used by the county government or the national government for the promotion of public interest. (CLA Section 29 (g))

The Constitution on matters of compulsory acquisition, (COK, Article 40, Land Act, CLA section 6) stipulates that occupant of a piece of land and registered owners are to be paid compensation when land is taken for public purposes. Compensation will be held by the county government and released to the community as soon as the property is registered.

Second, On leases, it good to note that a registered community, with the approval of the members of the said community, may cancel a leasehold if the lessee fails to comply with the requirements or adhere to any restrictions imposed by or under any law pertaining to the utilization of the land to which the right relates or the rules and regulations of the community. (CLA, Section 33)

Third, the adoption of the social Tenure Domain Model

Kituo Cha Sheria and NRCICLA have taken the mantle to educate the refugees and the host communities in Kakuma and Daadab on Housing, land and property rights by providing, information, counseling and legal assistance.

By Rachael Wahome - Legal-KCS-FMP


Understanding how Small Claims Courts work and what they do

On 21st May 2021, Chief Justice Martha Koome took the oath of office as Kenya`s 15th Chief Justice. After 100 days in office, she shared her vision for a Judiciary that is independent, efficient, accessible, responsive to the aspirations of Kenyans and a true guardian of the rule of law. Her vision to the judiciary is anchored on the Mantra of “Social Transformation through Access to Justice (STAJ)”. The vision seeks to widen the doors of justice to all Kenyans and all vulnerable groups.

The introduction of the Small Claims Act 2016 which was later amended by the Small Claims Court (Amendment) Act, 2020, through gazette notice No. 3791 of 2021 led to the establishment of Small Claims Courts, which are lower-level judicial bodies designed to facilitate the speedy resolution of small financial disputes through cost-effective channels while still adhering to the principles of legal fairness and natural justice. The Small Claims Court seeks to enhance access to justice for the poor and marginalized persons in Kenya. The courts are designed to ensure simplicity of procedure, speedy resolution of cases, accessibility and services offered at low cost. It is established to respond to challenges in administration of justice faced by the poor and the marginalized in society.

In a gazette notice dated December 10 of 2021, Chief Justice Martha Koome established Small Claims Courts in Eldoret, Kajiado, Kakamega, Kisumu, Machakos, Meru, Mombasa, Naivasha, Nakuru, Nyeri. According to the Judiciary, as at May 2023, the court had processed 27,000 cases unlocking Kenya Shillings 4.6 billion. It is equally noted that the court has been working on an average of 53 days per case. As at now, in the Coastal region, the courts are in Mombasa and Malindi.

Nature of Claims and Pecuniary Jurisdiction

The Small Claims Court has jurisdiction to determine civil claims related to contracts for the sale and supply of goods or services, money held and received, liability in tort, compensation for personal injuries, and set-off and counterclaim under any contract. The pecuniary jurisdiction is limited to one million shillings, and the Chief Justice may determine other pecuniary jurisdictions.

Exclusion of Jurisdiction

The Court has exclusive jurisdiction over claims once lodged, and proceedings cannot be brought before any other court unless specific conditions are met. Certain types of claims such as: defamation, libel, slander, malicious prosecution, disputes over land titles, and employment and labor relations, cannot be brought before the Small Claims Court.

Procedural Rules and Parties

The Court has control over its procedure, considering the principles of natural justice. Alternative dispute resolution mechanisms may be adopted. Parties can lodge claims if they reside or carry on business within the jurisdiction, and the subject matter, contract, cause of action, or defendant is within the jurisdiction.

Representative Claims

Multiple persons can have claims against the same respondent, which may be brought in the name of one person as a representative. The representative is authorized to act on behalf of others, and the Court can order separate hearings if needed.

Procedure Before the Court

The Court has flexibility in its procedures and may adopt alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. It has the power to summon witnesses, make inquiries, and may allow electronic filing. The Court may facilitate the use of various languages and communication formats accessible to persons with disabilities.

Execution of the Decree

The Court can issue various orders, including orders to pay money, restitution of movable property, and recovery of sums related to a contract. The execution process involves attaching movable or immovable property, attaching salary, or suspending execution under certain conditions.

Appeal to the High Court

To initiate an appeal, it is imperative to file a comprehensive memorandum of appeal that distinctly outlines the dissatisfaction with the preceding outcomes. This memorandum should specifically articulate the legal grounds for dissatisfaction, focusing solely on legal aspects rather than presenting evidence.

The Emphasis should be placed on the interpretation and application of the law rather than introducing new evidence during the appeal process. The High Court, in reviewing the appeal, carefully scrutinizes the jurisdiction exercised by the Small Claims Court and examines if any procedural irregularities or unwarranted processes occurred during the initial proceedings.

The final Appeal is at High Court.


Scientist and environmentalist have locked horns with the government on the
destruction effect the road will have on the Abadare ecosystem, arguing that
environment effects outweigh all other economic benefits. Conservation Alliance of Kenya CAK has filed a new petition.

The proposed construction of a road cuts through the Abadare National Park to link Nyandarua and Nyeri County. Conservationists have condemned National
Environmental Management Authority NEMA’s action, saying the Agency tasked to protect the environment is putting a fragile ecosystem at risk. Nema had given the government a green light to proceed with the controversial project.

Proponents of this undertaking say the road has full socio economic benefits, they
argue that road would boost tourism and Agriculture. It will also cut the travel time by more than one hour and 30 minutes over the other available alternatives.

Environmental concerns
The road passes through a protected forest area. Conservationist and scientist have expressed fears that this will have an irreparable damage to the ecosystem. The Area comprises of 300 hectares of delicate ecosystems, including moorland, closed canopy forest, a wildlife habitat designated as a national park, wildlife corridors, wetlands, and other important conservation areas. This loss could disrupt wildlife migration leading to a decline in wildlife populations. The serene canopy and the majestic water tower water fall may become a distant memory as the highway cutting through the forest would disrupt all that.

Also there will be a reduction of water flow to the Sasumua and Ndakaini dams, Athi and Tana River, Ewaso Nyiro, Lorian Swamp, River Malewa, and Lake Naivasha. This would negatively impact key economic activities and livelihoods, causing losses in horticulture, hydro-electricity supply, agriculture together with ecotourism.  Increased illegal activities such as wildlife poaching, logging, waste pollution, and wildlife roadkill during and after construction.

The project would attract human settlement and commercial development that would affect the communities and livelihoods using the Abadare as far as Nairobi. This means that destruction to this ecosystem will affect all of us.

The looming climate change is real and with us. lives and livelihoods have been
devastated. it is high time Human rights organization advanced the climate justice
construct in a manner that relates to the populace.

The Constitution of Kenya empowers persons to seek redress when their right to a healthy and clean environment has been violated or infringed. Article (69) (2) imposes obligations on every person, to cooperate with state organs and other persons to protect and conserve the environment and ensure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources. The ecological value of the area is bigger than the road.

Alternative way without pain
The economic and land tribunal is seeking to halt the construction of the highway.
Conservation Alliance of Kenya (CAK) wants the tribunal to compel the government to configure an alternative route. The Alliance cited severe environment impact the planned Highway will cause and sought cancellation of the NEMA license.

The conservationist has proposed an alternative route that they say balances both the environment and economic benefit of such a project. The proposed route cuts through small towns and villages. This will benefit the communities to transport their farm produce. Residents living along the proposed route say the road would greatly improve their livelihoods. This they argue is better than the one that passes inside the forest as it will bring conflict between human beings and the animals.

Abadare is one of those systems that is connected, building a road through it will
disconnect that ecosystem. It is a water catchment area for the Sasumua and Ndakaini dams, which provide most of the water to the Capital city. The better option is an alternative route that have better economic returns for these connections for the county of Nyeri, Nyandarua, Nakuru and Laikipia that would be economic viable and would also assist the community.

It is worth noting that while we are investing in road infrastructure we have to make sure that we are maximizing the socio-economic benefit while minimizing the negative impact in particular to the environment. We are responsible for a call to climate justice…lest we forget.

Author: James

James Adala is a researcher and a writer working as programs officer with Kituo

Seeking Justice for Garissa University Terror Attack Victims

The tragic events of April 2nd, 2015, when terrorists launched a fatal attack on Garissa University College, remain etched in our collective memory. The heart-wrenching loss of young lives and the devastation inflicted upon families and communities serve as a stark reminder of the urgent need for accountability and justice.

At the forefront of this pursuit for justice are Kituo Cha Sheria (Kituo) and the grieving parents of the students who perished in the attack. Kituo and the parents of the victims have courageously embarked on a legal battle, seeking redress for the failures that led to the loss of their loved ones.

The parents turned to Kituo, seeking legal guidance and representation in holding both the University and the State accountable for the failure to ensure the security of their children. Tragically, as a result of this failure, approximately 147 promising young students lost their lives.

Represented by esteemed legal practitioners, including John Khaminwa, Senior Counsel, and Advocate John Mwariri, the petitioners assert that the University and the State neglected to take adequate measures to prevent the attack or mitigate its effects. They point to instances of laxity, complacency, and a delayed response, which exacerbated the severity of the tragedy.

Furthermore, the petitioners highlight disturbing revelations, such as the delayed deployment of the RECCE squad due to the misuse of State resources. They underscore the importance of heeding travel warnings issued by international governments and condemn the state’s dismissal of such warnings as detrimental to the country’s tourism, despite the looming threat.


The grieving parents of the students who perished in the attack together with Kituo advocates pose for a photo outside the Milimani law courts shortly after attending court hearing.

Central to the petitioners’ case is the assertion that there was sufficient intelligence or general information regarding the attack, yet the State deliberately failed to act upon it. This negligence, they argue, resulted in the loss of innocent lives and the violation of constitutional rights.

Before the Court, the petitioners seek justice in the form of a declaration holding the State accountable for its reckless and negligent acts. They demand compensation for the violations of their fundamental right to life and the irreparable harm inflicted upon them.

As the legal proceedings unfold, we stand in solidarity with Kituo Cha Sheria and the bereaved parents, advocating for transparency, accountability, and meaningful reforms to prevent such tragedies from recurring. Together, let us uphold the principles of justice and ensure that the memory of those lost in the Garissa University terror attack inspires positive change.

Kenya can learn a lot from Rwanda on digitizing Justice

The plan by the Judiciary to set up court registries at selected Huduma Centre has continued to receive opposition from lawyers across the country. The lawyers, who have opposed the plan have argued that the move will open doors for quacks to interfere with the independence of the Judiciary. They further argue it will increase unethical practices, questioning why the Judiciary was quick to implement the plan without sufficient consultation at a time when concerns were rife that the Judiciary was under the executive’s chokehold.

On the other hand, the Judiciary says it is seeking to leverage the success of the Huduma Centers and particularly the technology deployed to enhance access to justice by Kenyans.

Kituo cha sheria conducted a comparative study with Rwanda on how technology had impacted the Justice sector. These perhaps could illuminate on the foregoing

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic emphasized the importance and the urgency of transforming justice systems and delivering public services online not only in Rwanda but all over the world. Having begun the journey of digital transformation, the justice sector in Rwanda no longer relies on manual, paper-based case processes. The Judiciary’s use of an online case management solution kept courts, as well as other agencies, functioning during the COVID-19 pandemic and this supported the goal of making the justice system more accessible and efficient to all.

Integrated Electronic Case Management System (IECMS) in Rwanda

Antony Njenga, a paraegal from Kibera Community Justice Centre navigating through the efilling platform during a paralegals training on how efilling system works.

Rwanda has an Integrated Electronic Case Management System (IECMS) which serves as the single point of entry for all Justice Sector institutions involved in managing cases. The system records all judicial case information from the time a plaintiff files a case be it a civil or a criminal suit. This goes in the entire judicial process the time of arrest through sentence execution, efficiently sharing that information among all relevant sector institutions.

The Ministry of Justice Rwanda partnered with Cyber Café Agents to support filing of cases. Through the cyber cafes, members of the public are able to file cases by the assistance of government trained cybercafé agents. Kenya has an opportunity to tweak this, a similar arrangement that of Huduma Centre where government e-services can be obtained.  It is important to note that there is no system that is fallible. Any invention will come with its equal share of challenges and resistance.


Back home, as part of Kenya’s Judiciary digital strategy, an e-filing system was rolled out to improve the courts’ efficiency, reduce case backlog and yield faster results for users Launched in 2020, the system aimed to simplify procedures for both the judiciary and court users by enabling citizens to file, pay court fees and access their cases remotely through online processes. However, the system unfortunately did not integrate other institutions in the justice sector.

Kituo Cha Sheria together with the Grassroots Justice Network and the African Centre of Excellence for Access to Justice being taken through the Judiciary efilling system by an officer from the Judiciary during the Kenya ICT site visit.

It can be argued that Kenya and Rwanda have varying socio-political contexts however this offers an invaluable lesson. Any responsible government ought to surmount the obstacles in order to provide the much needed services to its citizenry. Kenya one of the most progressive constitution in the world yet the same document recognizes that the three arms of government are inter-dependent in as much as they are independent.

It behooves upon three arms of government together with The law society of Kenya to be pragmatic to chart the way forward. This should be fast and foremost in the interest of Wanjiku.

The fears of the lawyers on their livelihood whether founded or not should be addressed adequately. It is also important for them to be outward looking and see the big picture. The digital age will deconstruct some of the long held norms and traditions   in various professions.  Improved access to justice for all is a win win for all.

By James Adala a researcher working as a Programs Officer at Kituo cha Sheria.

Kituo’s access to justice project in prison communities in Kenya


Kituo’s Prison paralegal approach was mooted in response to the situation where the state only offers legal representation to people charged with capital offenses, leaving out others who are charged with other offenses. This together with the inability of most people in custody to understand the complexities of the legal system resulted in miscarriages of justice as well as unnecessary congestion in the prisons.

The innovation was triggered by many cases that were being brought to Kituo Cha Sheria about people who were in custody mainly because they lacked knowledge on the legal justice system and thus ended up staying in prison for longer than necessary or even for crimes they never committed. They did not have someone to advise them about their rights and the process in general. Hiring of lawyers was expensive and Kituo Cha Sheria did not have enough personnel hence the need to innovate the prison paralegal project.

Unlike most prison legal aid programmes that seek to sponsor lawyers or attach professional paralegals to the prisons; Kituo’s prison paralegal approach targets the beneficiaries (inmates) themselves to be the drivers and the actors of the initiative. Thus the initiative achieves sustainability with minimal external support.

The prison justice centres project was pioneered at Shimo La Tewa Prison in the year 2009.The project has since then been replicated in 14 Prisons across the country namely; the Shimo La Tewa Women’s Prison, Langata Women’s Prison, Kamiti Maximum Prison, Kisumu’s Kodiaga Main Prison, Meru GK Prison, Kakamega Main Prison, Kisii prison, Edoret prison, Naivasha Prison, Manyani prison, Kitale Prison and Nyeri Maximum Prison.

Paralegals trainings

Inmates and officers from Langata Women's Prison having a group discussion session during the training

In each of these prison justice centres, inmates and prison warders receive continuous training and practical exposure to criminal law and procedure, court systems, prosecution and the role of prosecutors, self-representation in criminal matters and paralegalism. As a result, the trained inmates and warders have offered free legal aid services to other inmates. Thus far, more than 10,000 inmates have been released resulting in decongestion of correctional facilities nationwide. Other benefits accruing from the prison justice centres extend beyond individual cases to include general communal and societal benefits such as speedy processing of cases; fair and impartial trials; and the reduction of prison populations while ensuring that justice is fair and accessible.

Due to re-sentencing, a great number of our prison paralegals have been released. Additionally, the law is dynamic and keeps on changing from time to time. Kituo therefore conducts refresher training to new members to be able to offer legal services and support to the inmates.

The work of prison paralegals

The prison paralegals provide legal awareness sessions to inmates. They offer free lessons on crafting cross-examinations questions, drafting petitions, requests for re-sentencing and appeals among other services.

Through this legal empowerment approach, Kituo has so far trained 450 paralegals across the prisons who have since enabled more than 20,000 inmates to have access to legal services resulting in more than 4,346 inmates securing freedom in the last one year.

At the same time, more than 43,789 inmates have been served through virtual court sessions being facilitated through the installation of internet and computers, while over 451 inmates have had their matters settled out of courts through the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism.


Access to justice through legal education

Kutuo’s access to justice project in prison communities in Kenya by providing free, legal education to prisoners and prison staff. We equip those from the margins of society to make, shape, and implement the law, empowering them to support and defend one another.


Across Kenya, thousands of inmates cannot afford legal representation and are unable to defend themselves in court. They languish in prisons operating at over 200% capacity, and wait 3–8 years for their cases to reach court. Many are even wrongfully accused or detained. This lack of affordable legal representation creates justice systems that deny a fair hearing and imprison people unnecessarily for years due to unresolved cases.

Inmates and Officers from Kisii Maximum Prison in Kisumu, undergoing training on various aspects of the law


We are empowering prisoners and prison staff in Kenya to become paralegals who can provide legal services to defend themselves and those who have no other means to obtain a fair hearing. Kituo’s Prison Paralegal Training equips participants with the basic legal knowledge to confidently navigate the justice system.

Inmates and Officers from Kodiaga Maximum Prison in Kisumu, undergoing training on various aspects of the law


The Pathfinders, African Centre of Excellence for Access to Justice and the Open Government Partnership having a session on the role of community-based paralegals in enhancing access to justice in Africa.[/caption]

The Pathfinders in collaboration with the African Centre of Excellence for Access to Justice and the Open Government Partnership on 3rd November 2022 hosted a session on the role of community-based paralegals in enhancing access to justice in Africa.
The session focused on the role of community-based paralegals, their impact and the challenges that they experience. The African Centre shared the initiatives it had undertaken in advocating for matters relating to the legal recognition of paralegals and the urgent need to increase their financing. The advocacy initiatives have been regional through the NGO Forum and African Commission’s ordinary sessions and global through the High Level Political Forum and SDG Summit. The Centre has also conducted research to document the work of community based paralegals.
The conversation also tackled the question of financing for community based paralegals. Focus was placed on the Legal Empowerment Fund which has thus far noted the demand for legal empowerment funding.
The Fund also seeks to demystify grant making so as to make it more accessible for grassroots justice defenders. The session involved experience sharing from Government representative from Sierra Leone who detailed the support the state has made towards the Legal Aid Board.
The government in Sierra Leone was also working closely with civil society organizations who worked with community based paralegals. The panel session elicited responses from experts in the field with many agreeing that indeed more recognition and financing ought to be extended to community based paralegals in Africa.

A selection of members from the Pathfinders, African Centre of Excellence for Access to Justice and the Open Government Partnership pose for a photo.

The panelists were: Atieno Odhiambo (Director, Legal Empowerment Fund), Shahid Korjie (National Coordinator, A-G’s office Sierra Leone) and Annette Mbogoh (African Centre of Excellence and Director, Kituo cha Sheria). The session was moderated by Eleanor Thompson, Namati Sierra Leone.


Kituo Cha Sheria (Legal Advice Centre) on Friday, October 27, 2023 marked its golden jubilee anniversary, in a colourful event that brought together both founder members, present members, alumni, stakeholders and development partners to reflect on Kituo’s milestone for the last 50 years.

Kituo Golden Jubilee event was marred with storytelling and inspirational speeches with individual speakers sharing the lessons, successes and challenges that the Legal Advice Centre has experienced while promoting legal empowerment and access to justice to the indigent communities.

Kituo Cha Sheria Executive Director Dr. Annette Mbogoh leads in cutting a cake as they celebrate the centre’s 50th Anniversary at the Head Office at Ole Dume Road, Nairobi on October 27, 2023

The Honorable Chief Justice Martha K. Koome, in remarks delivered by Justice Wendy Micheni lauded Kituo Cha Sheria for being a movement in protecting Human Rights laws that have brought tremendous changes in the legal sector. “The impact of KITUO’s work for the last 5decades shows that it’s been more than just an institution. It has been a movement that has challenged conventions, bridged gaps and provided a voice for the voiceless.” Said Hon. Wendy.

The Honorable Chief Justice Martha K. Koome acknowledged that Kituo’s landmark cases have shaped the jurisprudence of law in Kenya, such as those relating to the rights to housing, refugee rights, and prisoners’ rights, among others.  “The tireless dedication of KITUO over the years has not just been representing those who could not afford legal representation, it has been about changing narratives, breaking the chains of systematic oppression and continually reminding us of the sanity of human rights” read part of CJ’s speech.

Chief Magistrate Hon. Wendy Micheni delivering the congratulations sent by CJ Martha Koome.

Speaking of Kituo’s partneshipng with the Judiciary, Hon. Wendy stated that Kituo has been a key partner and ally of the judiciary in advancing access to justice for all Kenyans. She added that Kituo has supported the judiciary in championing for the adoption of the Alternative Justice System, collaborated with the judiciary in conducting public awareness campaigns, training judicial officers and staff, developing manuals, guidelines on various aspects of the law.

The office of the Attorney General celebrated Kituo for the legal empowerment work it is doing with both the community, refugees and the prisons and opening up justice centres where people are armed with legal knowledge to help them in their daily lives.

The Law Society of Kenya President Eric Theuri celebrated Kituo for being a valued member in the justice sector that stands for a noble cause and urged the advocates to volunteer their services especially by providing probono services to the poor and marginalized. “In my younger life, I had the privilege of offering pro bono services under Kituo Cha Sheria. I feel like a member of the family. I’m proud of the work Kituo has done over the years and the footprints it has left in the quest to ensure access to justice for the vulnerable in the society. There is no any greater reward for any advocate than to be able to be of service to humanity where payment is gratitude and eternal gratitude” said Eric Theuri.

LSK President Eric Theuri giving his remarks during the Golden Jubilee celebration at Ole Dume Road on October 27, 2023

Theuri’s sentiments were echoed by senior council John Khaminwa who urged stakeholders to help advance Kituo’s goal. “We leave in a world where access to justice is still hampered by poverty, ignorance, corruption, discrimination, violence impunity and other social ills. We therefore need stakeholders to support Kituo Cha Sheria to continue providing legal aid and education to those who cannot afford it” Said senior council John Khaminwa

Senior council John Khaminwa giving his remarks during Kituo Cha Sheria’s 50th Anniversary at Ole Dume Road, Nairobi.Khaminwa added, “We leave in a time when democracy is still threatened by authoritarianism, populism, and other forces that undermine the rule of law. We need Kituo to continue its courageous work of challenging injustice and impunities through public interest litigation” senior council John Khaminwa said.

Dr. Annette Mbogoh giving her remarks during Kituo Cha Sheria’s 50th Anniversary

Kituo’s Executive Director, Dr. Annette Mbogoh expressed confidence and hope that Kituo will stand firm for the next 50 years and outlined the strategies Kituo intends to adopt in the next five to ten years.

These include championing for Climate Justice, land, labour and housing, organizational capacity building which she said will focus on transforming the center and strengthening its communication.

Kituo’s BOD chairperson Mr. Justus Munyithya added that Kituo also plans to focus on the use of innovation and technology to promote justice.

The African Centre of Excellence for Access to Justice through their chairperson Clifford W. Msiska acknowledged Kituo was one of the founder members of the network and the contributions Kituo has made in promoting access to justice.

Two of our founder members present Lady Justice Mary Ang’awa and Rtd. Judge J. Vitalis O. Juma shared the vision they had and the rich history of the legal advice centre and their experience during the early stages of Kituo’s formation, touching on the challenges and how they overcame them. Tributes of the late founder members were read and a moment of silence observed in their honor.

Lady Justice Mary Ang’awa giving her key note address.

We at Kituo Cha Sheria are delighted and note with a lot of appreciation that Kituo Golden Jubilee could not have been possible without the support of all our stakeholders including our development partners, other civil society organizations and state actors.

We also recognize all our beneficiaries for trusting us and giving us the opportunity to serve and work with them in ensuring equality, transparency, accountability, promotion of human rights and access to justice in Kenya and beyond.


Kituo cha Sheria was honoured to be the 2nd runner-up of the 6th edition of the Nairobi Legal Awards, Civil Society (justice and legal affairs) Organization of the year 2023, held at Safari Park Hotel on 3rd November 2023.

In the other category, Kituo’s Executive Director  Dr. Annette Mbogoh was also honoured to be the 1st  runners up, Civil Society Lawyer of the year.

The Nairobi Legal Awards (NLA) assessment is based on the aspects of best practice in legal practice and management. The award is conferred upon the civil society Organization that demonstrates outstanding levels of excellence in legal service delivery.

Kituo’s executive director, Dr. Annette Mbogoh address the media shortly after receiving her award.

KITUO was recognized for having greatly impacted the lives of indigent and marginalized communities through our human rights programmes and interventions for 50 Years since its establishment. Some of these include Kituo’s involvement in strategic litigation cases that have contributed towards jurisprudential development of human rights including the prisoners’ right to vote in elections, the protection of refugees rights, safeguarding of housing rights of dwellers of informal settlements, the enactment of law on enforced disappearance, police brutality, 1998 US Embassy bombing, Marsabit toxic waste and access to digitized justice for self-representing indigent litigants.

Kituo’s team pause for a photo after the award ceremony

KITUO was also considered for demonstrating innovation in our programs, allowing the organization to remain relevant within the context of a dynamic environment. KITUO has been at the forefront in embracing the use of ICT in legal empowerment programmes. KITUO has advocated for law reform nationally, regionally, and globally. The enactment of laws and policies such as the Constitution of Kenya 2010, the Legal Aid Act 2016, the Land Act 2012, the National Peace Policy among others were spearheaded by KITUO alongside other collaborative partners. In addition, KITUO has jointly with other organizations submitted policy statements on human rights to the African Commission for Human and People’s Rights, Universal Periodic Review and the Kenyan Parliament.

Due to our extensive experience in legal empowerment and human rights work, KITUO has been recognized as a leading actor and trailblazer regionally and globally. In Africa, KITUO serves as a founding member of the African Centre of Excellence for Access to Justice, which is the only Pan-African organization promoting justice in the continent. Globally, KITUO sits in the Network Advisory Committee of the Global Legal Empowerment Network representing the East Africa region. KITUO coordinates learning, community building, and advocacy of Legal Empowerment Network members in East and Southern Africa. In addition, KITUO is the co-chair of the Access to Justice Cluster under the global Open Government Partnerships platform. Jointly with other justice organizations, KITUO has been co-implementing the access to justice commitment in Kenya’s fourth National Action Plan.

KITUO is honoured to have our efforts in promoting access to justice for the poor and marginalized recognized by the Law Society of Kenya.





Contact Info: Head Office - Nairobi

Location: Ole Odume Rd, Off Argwings Kodhek Rd.
Postal Add.: P.O. Box 7483-00300 Nairobi, Kenya.
Tel: 3874191, 3874220, 3876290,
Fax: 3876295
Mobile: +254 734 874 221, +254 727 773 991

Email: info(at)


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