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UNODC facilitates three-day Alternative Justice Systems exchange programme between Nakuru and Isiolo Court Users Committee members and community elders

Group photo of Isiolo CUC members, Isiolo Elders, Judges and Ms Charity Kagwi, Head of the Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice at UNODC. Photo credit: Fahmo Mohammed/2021

ISIOLO, Kenya, 2 December 2021 – A three-day Alternative Justice Systems (AJS) exchange programme between Nakuru and Isiolo Court User’s Committee members (CUCs) and community elders, facilitated by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) concluded on 26 November 2021.

The AJS exchange programme, supported by UNODC through the Programme for Legal Empowerment and Aid Delivery in Kenya (PLEAD), and funded by the European Union, brought together 130 participants from the criminal justice sector, as well as members of the Council of Elders and community members who actively make use of AJS in their everyday lives.

The exchange programme workshop, held in Isiolo county, hosted a team of CUC members who travelled from Nakuru county to discuss various ways of enhancing AJS, and to learn about good practices and experiences from the Isiolo CUC members and Isiolo elders.  Criminal justice participants at the workshop included Hon. Justice (Prof.) Joel Ngugi, Chair of the National Steering Committee for the Implementation of the AJS Policy (NaSCI-AJS); Dr. Steve Akoth, Vice Chair of NaSCI-AJS; and Ms. Charity Kagwi, Head of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice programme at UNODC. Other participants in attendance included members from the Othaya CUC, Sheikh Ahmed, Treasurer of the National Council of Elders and Ms. Joyce Nairesia Lesegi, Chairperson of the Samburu Elders Council. Ms Nairesia is the first woman to join the Council of Elders and the first woman to chair the Council. 

The decision to hold the workshop was based on the premise that the use of AJS in Isiolo county, is renowned for being a very effective method for justice which Nakuru county could learn from. Given that both counties share a cosmopolitan identity, the workshop provided the opportunity to share best practices on AJS in the context of multi-ethnic and multi-faith counties.

Organised by the NaSCI-AJS, the workshop was ultimately aimed at enhancing access to justice, and reducing case backlog in counties across the country by supporting expeditious delivery of justice to Kenyan citizens. In 2020, the Steering Committee supported the development and publication of the Alternative Justice Systems Policy and the Alternative Justice Systems Policy Framework.

The NaSCI-AJS together with UNODC, are committed to accelerating and creating awareness about AJS throughout Kenya. Speaking at the workshop in Isiolo county, Head of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice programme at UNODC, Ms Charity Kagwi said, “UNODC through PLEAD has supported initiatives that have the potential to transform the justice sector in Kenya. AJS constitutes one of the most used methods of justice provision in the country.” During the workshop, Justice Joel Ngugi said, “In Kenya, only 21 per cent of people who feel aggrieved in terms of justice, will bring their case to court. The other 79 per cent resolve their issues through AJS.” Judge Ngugi added, “Nevertheless, the formal criminal justice system still has an enormous problem of case backlog. Therefore, strengthening  AJS will be important to ensure the continuation of AJS as a preventive justice system to avoid court cases and reduce backlog.”

During the workshop, the role and participation of women in AJS was discussed. The discussion resulted in a positive realization for the future of women in AJS. Ms. Joyce Nairesia, the first woman to Chair the Samburu Elders Council, has paved the way for many women that are joining Elders Councils throughout Kenya. During the workshop she said, “I  encourage women to participate in AJS forums. Women’s participation in AJS has been, and will continue to be further enhanced by the publication of the Alternative Justice Systems Policy and its dissemination throughout the country.” Ms Nairesia remarked that the AJS policy embraces the transformative vision of the Constitution of Kenya; the reversal of structures that lead to gender oppression; social injustice and stigma; cultural domination; distributive and social injustice; and other forms of oppression.

Sheikh Ahmed Set, Treasurer of the National Council of Elders, giving his remarks at the workshop said, “ I believe elders and religious leaders are walking judges. When you walk outside each day, you see conflict which can be resolved. I thank elders for their support in this community.” He continued to state, “These elders are at the forefront of supporting human rights for women in the community. We have vowed to end female genital mutilation by 2022 and end gender-based violence and child marriage in our communities.”

On the last day of the exchange programme, members from the NaSCI-AJS discussed next steps and recommendations. They agreed to establish an AJS sub-committee  to include members from the Police, Law Society Kenya, Council of Elders, Office of the Director for Public Prosecutions, Probation and Aftercare Services, non-governmental organisations, media, and inter-faith groups among others. It was also agreed that a one-day CUC forum be organised to discuss  the Structure  and Operational Plan of AJS Pilot in Nakuru county and that the Isiolo AJS Suite be opened next year.


Note to Editors:

The European Union’s Programme for Legal Empowerment and Aid Delivery in Kenya (PLEAD) is a partnership between the Government of Kenya, and the United Nations aimed at improving the efficiency of Kenya’s criminal justice system and increasing the use of alternatives to imprisonment.


For more information, contact:

UN Office on Drugs and Crime –