KITUO CELEBRATES ITS GOLDEN JUBILEE ANNIVERSARY

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.

THE PARALEGAL SOCIETY OF KENYA (PSK) AWARDS

The PSK held its award ceremony after the Summit one 15th December 2022. One of the objectives of the summit was to award paralegals who have fiercely promoted access to Justice.
The first-place winner of the community award service award was Michael Asao.
The second-place winner for the best prison justice men was Kamiti Maximum Prison and the third-best winner for the best overall community paralegal was Jamia Abdulrahim.

Jamia Abdulrahim being awarded as the best overal community Paralegal of the year
  • Best Overall Community Paralegal – Jamia Abdulrahim.
  • Best Community Paralegal – Ibrahim Ogeto.
  • Best Prison Paralegal – Maurice Bora.
  • Best Volunteer Advocate of The year – Anthony Mulekyo.
  • 1St Runners Up Volunteer Advocate of The year – Dan Mulinga Mbaluka.
  • 2nd Runners Up Volunteer Advocate of The year – Huldah Ochieng.
  • Post Humus Award of the year Volunteer Advocate of The year – Christine Mwikali Kipsang.
  • Most Promising Young Volunteer Advocate of The year – Maureen Kemunto.
  • Best Social Justice Centre (Community) – Nyando Social Justice Center.
  • Best Prison Justice Centre Men – Kamiti Maximum Prison.
  • Community Service Award – Michael Asao.
  • Best prison paralegal – Mathews Okweso

It was a great pleasure and an honor to have Carolyne Abong Senior Policy Advisor – Political Affairs, Human Rights, Rule of Law at Embassy of the Netherlands in Kenya attends the Summit. Kituo appreciate our development partner Embassy of the Netherlands in Kenya for their relentless support that has substantially contributed towards achievement of our strategy of strengthening access to justice for the poor and marginalized and promoting human rights.

THE 2ND PARALEGAL SOCIETY OF KENYA SUMMIT 2022

The 2nd Paralegal Society of Kenya (PSK) summit took place from 14th to 15th December 2022 at the Tamarind tree hotel, Nairobi. The paralegal summit seeks to bring together paralegals from all parts of Kenya and East Africa to see exchange of best practices, challenges as well as possible avenues of collaboration. The 2022 theme was ‘Towards a robust and vibrant paralegal movement’.
The objectives of the summit included mobilizing paralegals to register as Paralegals Society of Kenya members, building a capacity of Paralegals so as to establish and strengthen the county fora and providing a platform for engagement between paralegals and duty-bearers in the justice sector as well as providing a platform for experience sharing among the paralegals.
Mary Airo, the National Coordinator Paralegal Society of Kenya In her remarks, appreciated the passionate work done by paralegals noting that they wholeheartedly give legal services to the communities to ensure that the poor and vulnerable access justice.

Paralegals and stakeholders during the 2nd PSK Summit held at Tamarind Tree Hotel in Nairobi Kenya.

UNDP’s Zainab pointed out that the realization of human rights and access to justice are crucial aspects of the quest for sustainable development. She also noted that without strong guarantees for access to justice particularly for the poor and vulnerable, choice and opportunity to access resources and participate in governance would remain at risk.

Justus Munyithya, the Chair of the Board of Directors, Kituo Cha Sheria in his remarks, stated that one of the critical goals of sustainable development is to ensure that no one is left behind.

“Article 48 of the constitution of Kenya, guarantees every Kenyan the right to access justice, which is yet to be fully realized due to the state’s political nature.” Said Mr. Munyithya.

Mr. Munyithya added that this right still remains out of reach for many poor and marginalized groups due to barriers to access to justice which are numerous and include the lack of political will to implement laws and policies that promote access to justice, high costs associated with the formal justice system, advocates fees, filing fees and general inadequacy of awareness of human rights.

KITUO’S PARALEGAL AT THE COP27

Evans Muswahili Ladema, Kituo’s paralegal from Vihiga Community Justice Centre pose for
a photo at the UN Climate Change Conference COP27

Community paralegals can come in to address the environment and Climate In Justices faced by communities. As reservoirs of information, community paralegals can create awareness at the community level on issues of climate change and make communities aware of the need to tackle Climate Change. Paralegals can carry out advocacy work on climate change thus help organize communities to demand change.
Evans Muswahili Ladema, Kituo’s paralegal from Vihiga Community Justice Centre who is so passionate about the environment and Climate Justice participated at the UN Climate Change Conference COP27 that started on 6th and stretched through to 18th of November in Egypt, courtesy of generous funding from the Global Alliance for the Future of Food and UN Climate Change accreditation facilitated by Kituo Cha Sheria and Namati Kenya.

COP27 presents an opportunity for all stakeholders to come together to find concrete solutions to the global climate emergency, including mitigation, adaptation and resilience, loss and damage, and climate finance.
Evans spoke on behalf of the poor and marginalized in Kenya seeking climate justice. His presentation touched on three key issues; relationships between food systems and climate change, scaling regenerative food systems as a climate solution, and gender issues in food systems and climate action. He looks forward to having the ambitious goals and commitments set by UN member states in reducing global warming put into practical action.

ACE-AJ AND ITS REGIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL PARTNERS CONVENE TO DISCUSS AND DRAFT ACTION PLAN FOR THE HIGH-LEVEL POLITICAL FORUM 2023

Members of the African Centre of Excellence for Access to Justice (ACE-AJ) together with the regional and international partners in community justice

Members of the African Centre of Excellence for Access to Justice (ACE-AJ) together with the regional and international partners in community justice on 19th October 2022 convened for a 2-day participatory meeting in Nairobi to discuss and draft an action plan in preparation for the High-Level Political Forum 2023 (HLPF) side event.
The action plan will clarify the necessary resources, formulate a timeline, and detail the necessary tasks to be completed to ensure a successful event. A key focus for HLPF2023 will be on financing. A possible topic for consideration is the ‘Challenges and opportunities around financing community-based justice.
This Side-event of the HLPF, held outside the official programme provides a great opportunity to discuss the theme and SDGs under review at the HLPF2023, identify new and emerging issues, and help spread greater awareness of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.
While African governments have made commitments under goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Agenda 2063/2 of the African Union to ensure access to justice for all, in reality, a significant number of people from the continent lack access to justice.
Building momentum towards key 2023 “moments” will to help hold governments accountable to SDG16+, and to pressure them to make more concrete commitments to action by showcasing civil society action around SDG16+ through “Storytelling” efforts, to highlight the leading role that civil society is playing to advancing SDG16+

Members of the African Centre of Excellence for Access to Justice (ACE-AJ) together with the regional and international partners in community justice conducting a group discussion

ACE-AJ will continue to mobilize support across civil society for SDG16+ action and commitments around key 2023 “moments”, including the 2023 SDGs Summit and “Summit for the Future”. Additionally, ACE-AJ will mobilize resources to support grassroots actions around SDG16+ at the national and local levels, to build out more localized movements led by key civil society partners.

CAPACITY BUILDING FOR REFUGEE-LED ORGANIZATIONS

Group photo of the takeholders including government officials, civil society and refugee led organizations.

Kituo cha Sheria, through the Forced Migration Programme conducted a 2-day capacity building for Refugee Led organizations (RLOs) at Waridi Paradise Hotel in Nairobi. The training that took place on 21st and 22nd Nov. 2022 covered basics in Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF), the Refugee Act 2021, Durable solutions as provided for in the Act in relation to RLOs operations, Financial management, Advocacy strategies and Principles of corporate governance.

Through the support of Open Society Foundations Kituo continues to build the Capacity of the refugee-led organizations to enhance meaningful participation, collaboration and protection of refugee rights.

High Court Judge, John Chigiti facilitating a session on Intersex refugee children during our engagement meeting with stakeholders including government officials, civil society and refugee led organizations.

All over the world, people are fleeing persecution on the basis of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Intersex refugee children face discrimination, violence and exclusion. It’s our duty as human rights defenders to create awareness on Intersex refugee children’s rights.

Conversations inform policy and reminds the state that they have an obligation to enforce positive rights. All human beings should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear no matter who they are.

KITUO LAUNCHES REFUGEE COMMUNITY IN NAIROBI TRAINS REFUGEE AS PARALEGALS

Paralegals of refugee community and refugee led organizations pose for a photo with their certificates upon successful completion of the training

Kituo Cha Sheria through the Forced Migration Programme conducted a 5-day training for paralegals of refugee community and refugee led organizations at Waridi Hotel Nairobi. The training that took place from 26th October to 1st November 2022 aimed at empowering refugee led organisations and the refugees in particular on approach to justice for the vulnerable in the refugee community and promoting intercultural diversity for peaceful engagement in conflict situations among the refugee and host community.
The paralegals among the refugee community and refugee led organizations will also be sensitized on mental health and psychosocial support into peace-building efforts and building cohesion.
Upon successful completion of the training, Kituo officially launched a justice centre in Nairobi under the Youth Voices Community as a way to decentralize legal empowerment and peace building initiatives to the refugee communities.
Kituo’s Executive Director Dr. Annette Mbogoh who officiated the opening of the justice centre and graduation ceremony welcomed this timely partnership. She stated that Kituo has been receiving overwhelming cases from the refugee community on police harassment, general lack of knowledge of refugee issues, negative and discriminatory attitudes from local populations and barriers to foreign qualifications recognition.

Paralegals from the Youth Voices Community receiving administrative support materials including laptop and printer from Dr. Annette Mbogoh, Kituo’s Executive Director.

She encouraged the refugee paralegals to use the knowledge gained to empower their fellow refugees and asylum seekers by providing guidance on their rights and obligations as well as information regarding their asylum application and their refugee status, offering advice on their cases, making referrals and following up on cases.
Kituo handed over administrative support material including a laptop, Printer and tonners to Youth Voices Community (YVC) Refugees Justice Centre to facilitate the processing of legal documents at the centre. All these were made possible through the support of Open Society Foundations and Ziviler Friedensdienst / GIZ

KITUO HOSTS A TEAM FROM THE GLOBAL LEGAL EMPOWERMENT NETWORK

Kituo team together with the members from the Global Legal Empowerment Network.

Kituo Cha Sheria hosted a team from the Global Legal Empowerment Network for an exchange visit on 5th October 2022. The Legal Empowerment Network delegation from the North America, Latin America, South East Asia, East and West Africa was led by Abigail Moy, the Director, Legal Empowerment Network. The Network team was received at our Head Office by our Executive Director Dr Annette Mbogoh among staff and community paralegals.

While making her opening remarks, Abigail emphasised on the importance of the network responding to the needs of its members, building capacities and partnerships in enhancing legal empowerment globally. She stressed on the need to enhance the engagement of members especially at grassroots levels, sharing successes and models and advocating for financing for legal empowerment.

On her part, Dr Annette highlighted the milestones that Kituo cha Sheria had achieved as the East Africa Regional Anchor. She added that the core group consisting of members from East and Southern Africa had actively led advocacy initiatives at the African Commission for Human and People’s Rights and the NGO Forum. The core group had also centered its conversation on learning around impact at individual and community levels.

Dr. Annette Mbogoh addressing the team.

In addition, the core group had began reflecting on legal recognition and financing models for community paralegals in Africa. Thereafter the Kituo programmes teams, community based paralegals and the Network Team had an opportunity to share their experiences.
It was agreed that there was a need to enhance and tap on key areas for synergy between network members. access to justice Namati Kenya

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