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Strengthening the Cooperation Between Stakeholders in Addressing Criminal Justice Reforms

Naivasha, Kenya, 14-15 October 2019 - Over 150 criminal justice actors and experts gathered in Naivasha to discuss criminal justice reforms in the country. The first National Conference on Criminal Justice Reform was hosted by the National Council on the Administration of Justice (NCAJ) and the National Committee on Criminal Justice Reform (NCCJR) to create an all-inclusive consultation process with all the stakeholders in the criminal justice system.

The conference aimed to improve the collective response of Kenya’s criminal justice system towards systemic problems such as prison overcrowding and inequitable access to justice, especially for children and vulnerable people. Some of the institutions represented at the conference were the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP), the Judiciary, the Council of Governors, the Attorney General’s Office, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Committess (EACC), the National Police Service and the Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DIC).

Opening the conference, the Chief Justice of Kenya, Hon. David Maraga, said that the constitution calls for collaboration, cohesion and seamless delivery of services to the people. “Identification and interrogation of key questions to be addressed, gaps and challenges affecting justice sectors will help us improve administration of justice – the cornerstone of the entire sector,” Hon. Maraga said.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr Noordin Haji, acknowledged in his remarks that the NCAJ is tasked with responsibilities that extends to the entire administration of justice and that the ODPP is open to collaboration. “The ODPP wants to assure you that we will keep supporting these processes,” Mr Haji said. “We have to ensure that we interrogate ourselves and get solution to some of the hurdles we are faced with as players in the justice system.”

The Commissioner General of Prisons, Wycliffe Ogalo, noted the staggering number of prisoners in both remand and correctional centres, including children and other vulnerable people. He said in his remarks that there is a total of 53,935 people in prison, of which 5,999 prisoners are serving life sentences, including children accompanying their mothers to prisons.

The two-day conference was supported by UNODC through PLEAD, a KES 4.2 billion (EUR 34.15 million) partnership funded by the European Union that is improving the delivery of justice services and use of alternatives to imprisonment in Kenya. UNODC is providing technical assistance to five criminal justice institutions to strengthen the administration of justice - the National Council on the Administration of Justice, the Judiciary, Probation and Aftercare Service, Witness Protection Agency and the ODPP.

“PLEAD is committed to working with the NCAJ and justice sector agencies to enhance reforms as well as expeditious, efficient and effective service delivery to the people,” the UNODC Eastern Africa Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Head, Ms Charity Kagwi said.

UNODC, along with the NCAJ and representatives from the participating criminal justice institutions, are currently drafting recommendations to address the concerns highlighted at the conference, especially noting the need for a strategy on reduction of prison populations.