UNODC Eastern Africa News and Stories

You are here: Home / News

UNODC Enhances Judiciary's Innovative Vision on Social Transformation through Access to Justice

Nairobi, 10 February 2023 – Over 90 percent of the Judiciary’s case backlog are handled by the Magistrates and Kadhis’ Courts in Kenya. The Judiciary has over the years been committed to enhancing efficiency towards reducing the backlog in courts.

More than 500 Magistrates and Kadhis (judicial officers presiding over an Islamic Court), convened in two cohorts during the 5th Magistrates and Kadhis Colloquium supported by the Programme for Legal Empowerment and Aid Delivery in Kenya (PLEAD) alongside other partners. The aim was to reconnect, share a range of experiences from respective court stations and deliberate on how to tackle emerging challenges, in line with the theme, Social Transformation through Access to Justice (STAJ) and Building Magistrates Courts of Excellence.

The colloquium also presented an opportunity for Magistrates and Kadhis to share experiences on best practices in the delivery of Justice.

Aligned with PLEAD’s outcomes, partners deliberated on issues such as clearing case backlog; improving access to justice by increasing the avenues for accessing justice; digitization of the Judiciary operations and processes; enhancing public confidence in the justice system by strengthening internal and external complaints mechanisms; and improving coordination and synergy of the actors within the justice sector. 

The colloquium also delved deeper on protection of special groups in the trial process; witness (special) protection in the administration of justice; mental wellness in the workplaces; court annexed mediation; alternative justice systems; Children’s Court; Small Claims Court; and sexual and gender-based violence.  Other key presentations touched on recent critical legislative amendments and provisions that have been declared unconstitutional and proposed amendments to the sentencing policy guidelines, Criminal Procedure Code and the Penal Code.

“The STAJ Vision for the Judiciary puts people at the centre of our service delivery. We are aiming at developing a people-centred justice system that is focused on people’s needs thus reinforcing the idea of justice as a public good,” said the President of the Supreme Court and Chief Justice of Kenya, Hon. Martha Koome.

Social Transformation through Access to Justice requires a multi-stakeholder approach to ensure an equal and transparent access to justice.  The vision builds on the gains of the Judiciary Transformation Framework and the Sustaining Judiciary Transformation Blueprints by putting people at the centre of the justice process through a multidoor approach.

STAJ aims to ensure that everyone has access to judicial or non-judicial dispute resolution systems that are independent and impartial, available, accessible, affordable, timely and effective.

“People-centred access to justice is also at the heart of the EU’s approach to justice reform. I would like to convey to you that we are ready to support you on delivering the Constitution of Kenya to the people of this Country. EU’s support to justice reforms in Kenya through (PLEAD) will continue to invest in enhancing access to justice and efficiency in the justice system,” said the Deputy Ambassador of the EU Delegation to Kenya, H.E Katrin Hegmann.

Funded by the EU, some of the key interventions include, enhancing sanitation facilities and the installation of solar power in select court stations. This support has been strategically directed to court stations that handle a high number of cases in remote court stations that require this infrastructural support. The impact of the solar power interventions is already apparent as in some cases, savings of up to eighty-two per cent in power consumption costs have been reported by the beneficiary stations. On the other hand, sanitation facilities are also reported to enhance the court users interaction with the courts, thereby dignifying the experience for these users.

“We are pleased that the Judiciary remains ahead of this curve by promoting paperless courts and we look forward to our continued support on this front. The PLEAD programme further remains committed to supporting access to justice with dignity,” said the Head of the Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice System, Ms. Charity-Ndungu Kagwi.

Other initiatives include: developing the Active Case Management knowledge products that aim to reduce delay, case backlog and ensure that justice is done irrespective of status; provision of witness protection boxes fitted with voice distortion equipment to court stations in counties where PLEAD is implemented; completion of the Magistrates and Kadhis’ Court 2022 – 2026 Strategic Plan; and enhancement of the customer care experience in court stations among others.

PLEAD has also accorded support to the Judiciary by developing the Alternative Justice Systems (AJS) Policy and Framework and mainstreaming of the AJS processes. AJS continues to offer convenient, accountable, affordable, and transformative means to access justice. Additional PLEAD support has also included providing equipment such as laptops, printers, and video-conferencing equipment to enhance operations in the justice sector through the PLEAD.


For more information, contact:

-       Charity Kagwi-Ndungu, Head, Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, UNODC Eastern Africa-