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UNODC applauds Kenya's commitment to rights-based criminal justice

Nairobi, 13 May 2022: UNODC joined Kenya's National Council on the Administration of Justice (NCAJ) at its 2nd hybrid National Criminal Justice Reforms Conference themed: Towards a Rights-Based Criminal Justice Sector from 10th – 12th May 2022. 

The conference provided an opportunity for criminal justice actors to engage in discussions to identify practical steps in ensuring that there is a rights-based approach to criminal justice.

The conference was presided over by the Chief Justice, Hon. Martha Koome, who delivered a keynote speech alongside other institutional leaders from the European Union (EU), Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, UNODC, Law Society of Kenya, Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, Directorate of Criminal Investigations, National Police Service, Council of Governors, International Development Law Organization, among others.

Participants who attended the three-day conference were drawn from national, regional and international State and non-State institutions of the criminal justice sector and academia.

The objectives of the conference were: to assess the progress made from the 1st National Criminal Justice Reforms Conference held in 2019; to discuss emerging issues in the criminal justice sector which require policy, legal and institutional reforms by enhancing the observance of human rights by criminal justice agencies in service delivery; and to identify strategies for reforming the criminal justice system, including follow-up or monitoring mechanisms. 

Hon. Lady Justice Martha Koome acknowledged justice actors and partners in supporting the work of NCAJ and called upon them to exercise the power and authority given to them with a human rights perspective. 

“The Judiciary is keen on enhancing human rights in the criminal justice sector by providing more avenues to resolve disputes in the form of Alternative Justice Systems (AJS). The pandemic triggered innovation in automation of the criminal justice chain. It also forced the sector to analytically look at how petty offenders are handled and processed through the system.” Hon.  Justice Koome underscored.

While leading in a high-level panel discussion, on regional and international perspectives on a human rights-based approach to criminal justice, the UNODC Eastern Africa Regional Representative, Mr. Neil Walsh, thanked the EU for its financial support of criminal justice reforms through the Programme for Legal Empowerment and Aid Delivery in Kenya (PLEAD). 

“How can we turn secret intelligence into evidence? How do we get that into the court system? We approach it in a proportionate, lawful and necessary manner and we are able to do what we do due to the support of the EU,” he highlighted. 

A key priority area of the PLEAD partnership is to enhance the use of ICT for accessing justice. Through the partnership, the European Union is at the forefront of supporting criminal justice actors in adopting technology, for the benefit of the common Mwananchi. 

The EU Ambassador to Kenya, Ms. Henriette Geiger, commended NCAJ for their hard work towards transforming Kenya through law enforcement, proportionality in the administration of justice and ensuring equal treatment before the law. She noted that NCAJ’s mandate is key in delivery of justice and that the EU is proud to support the efforts of improving the criminal justice system. Further, she recognized NCAJ’s crucial role in coordinating all the actors in the justice chain to push for improvements in the sector.

Ahead of the upcoming general elections in Kenya,  Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Interior and Coordination Hon. Fred Matiang’i, placed emphasis to justice actors to ensure strategies are in place to curb social media bullying and hate speech.

On the other hand, the Head of the Criminal Justice and Anti-Corruption Pillar, Ms. Charity Kagwi, joined Mr. Walsh in acknowledging the EU for supporting the justice actors in the execution of their mandates.  She also led in a panel discussion on enhancing human rights in the criminal justice sector by providing alternatives to prosecutions, respectively.

Other panelists led in discussions touching on: the need for accountability in electoral offences as a means for ensuring free and fair elections; effects of corruption in the society around the functioning of state institutions including the criminal justice system, and on the importance of a criminal justice system that is free from corruption and other forms of unethical conduct; safeguarding the rights of children, SGBV victims, persons with mental illnesses, and other vulnerable groups in the criminal justice system among others.

The conference was supported by the European Union through the PLEAD partnership. With the support of PLEAD, UNODC is assisting the NCAJ Secretariat and its various committees to enhance capacities to carry out its mandate and improve coherence, cooperation and collaboration within the justice sector.

For more information, please contact:

NCAJ –  

European Union –

UN Office on Drugs and Crime –