People centred justice initiative in Kenya attempts to bridge the access to justice gap

Pathfinders, an access to justice umbrella civil society organisation based at New York University has published a report on Kenya’s alternative justice system.

The global justice gap affects billions worldwide, with 4.5 billion people lacking access to legal opportunities, and 1.5 billion facing unresolved legal issues. A shift toward people-centred justice acknowledges the inadequacy of existing formal approaches to justice and emphasizes empowering communities, simplifying processes, and supporting alternative pathways and alternative legal service providers.

In response to the fact that most Kenyans seek justice outside formal courts, the Judiciary established a Taskforce in 2016 to study and formulate a judicial policy regarding alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. Emphasising the importance of cultural traditions, the Taskforce conducted an in-depth examination of customary and informal justice (CIJ) systems.

The report describes how the resulting findings led to the adoption of Kenya’s Alternative Justice Systems (AJS) Policy. This policy aims to improve the integration of alternative, customary dispute resolution processes with the formal court system and has helped to divert cases away from the overloaded magistrates courts. The report also flags some of the challenges that have yet to be resolved in the creation of such a process, including, avoiding the risks of overregulation whilst ensuring that remuneration of AJS practitioners does not lead to conflicts of interest.

Read the full publication here.

Brought to you by ICLR.