By Isabella Obara
The Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU) in partnership with the Law Society of Kenya South Eastern Branch undertook the very first legal awareness week in Garissa. The team set up at the Garissa Law Courts from the 25th to 29th of October, 2021 to give free legal assistance to clients in the region.
Under the theme "Sovereignty of the People and Access to Justice" the IMLU team supported by other advocates attended to a total of 55 clients (Female-24 & Male-31). The clients were from various areas in the County such as Madogo, Iiftin, Punda, Mzuri and Gaaris.
Our aim this year during legal awareness week was to offer legal aid to marginalized people of Garissa. Just in line with the LSK Legal Awareness week 2021 theme, legal aid is underscored as central in providing access to justice by ensuring equality before the law, the right to counsel and the right to a fair trial.
IMLU was able to screen a total of 55 clients. Most of these clients learnt about the legal aid through mobilization by IMLU's networks and the rest were walk-in clients.
Twenty-four of the clients were female and 31 were male. The nature of the cases the team noted upon screening the clients was varying between Civil and Criminal matters.
The essence of Legal Awareness week is to offer Legal aid. Legal aid is the provision of free legal assistance to people who are unable to afford legal representation and access to the court system. Just in line with the LSK Legal Awareness week 2021 theme, Legal aid is underscored as central in providing access to justice by ensuring equality before the law, the right to counsel and the right to a fair trial.
In Kenya, Legal Aid is founded on the Legal Aid Act (No 6 of 2016).
Access to Justice
Based on The Justice for All Report of the Task Force on Justice, around 5.1 billion people today lack meaningful access to justice. As a result, many are trapped in vicious cycles of poverty, inequality and marginalization.
In light of growing evidence of the impediments on access to justice, IMLU committed to working closely with the Judiciary during the awareness week.
The vision of the team while participating in the legal awareness week was informed by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which are aimed at a world that respects the rule of law and promotes equal access to justice whilst upholding human rights.
Further, it was noted that unaddressed legal needs affect individuals, but beyond that, their communities and the justice system and economy at large. Legal aid is important and it remains the only right thing to do in enhancing access to justice.
Edited by Sarah Nyakio