February 25th 2018

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Catholic Caritas in Kitui providing legal aid to courts

The expert said the court allows the alternative justice. Ombata also said that the paralegal service is voluntary and free. “That should be clear,” she added. The lawyer said that receiving payment from a client for paralegal service is illegal and that the culprit should be taken to court and pros

By Boniface Mulubmulu@kenyafreepress.comTuesday, 10 Oct 2017 15:37 EAT

The Mwingi Law Courts in Kitui County.

The Catholic Church's charity work in Kitui County under the auspices of Caritas has a lot of activities to do with the Kitui Courts Users Committee (CUC), the acting Kitui Catholic Diocese Caritas Director Florence Ndeti has said.

The director said that the Caritas, the Kitui Catholic Diocese’s development arm, had a total of five departments that are the pastoral, health, education and finance, adding that the diocese has the Justice and Peace Commission (JPC) for the justice for the people.

She was speaking during a Kitui Law Courts Users Committee meeting organized by the Caritas in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Amkeni Wakenya at the Kitui Multi-Purpose Development Training Institute where participants were from Kitui County and where the Kitui Law Courts Resident Magistrate Rose Ombata was the main speaker.

The meeting’s objective was to strengthen the linkage between the Courts Users Committee and the public in Kitui County to promote public understanding on judicial process for enhanced access to justice.

Ndeti said that their work is to do developments in connection with the people’s needs. She said that most of the cases that come to their office are land-related. “There are some other cases such as defilements and rape that we get in our office. Some of the defilements and rapes are by close relatives,” said Ndeti, who was accompanied by some officials from her office among them Juliana Ndunge Kiio and Bernard Ochieng.

The officer added that they also receive marriage-related cases in their office. She said that they refer the cases that regard women and girls to the Federation of Women Lawyers of Kenya (FIDA). The non-governmental organization official announced that they have already implemented a total of 30 projects in Kitui County.

“Some 79 per cent of that projects is for the community livelihoods, two per cent is for the clean water, boreholes, dykes and roof-water harvesting programmes for the community and the other percentage is for some other programmes including that of education,” Ndeti said.

She also announced that they run a climate change programme for the good of dealing with the climate change in the county. “As Caritas and church, we should not keep on complaining that these are not being done by the Kitui County and national government when we ourselves are not doing our responsibility,” the Caritas official said.

And on her part, Ombata, who educated the participants on the Kenya’s constitution, said that the problem of Kenyans is that they do not read the document. She urged them to read and be conversant with the constitution for their own good. “Use the constitution and read it and be conversant with it as you do with the Bible,” the lawyer told the participants. Ombata said that they do not want cases to stay in court for so long.  “We are given only one year for the case to conclude,” she said.

The expert said the court allows the alternative justice. Ombata also said that the paralegal service is voluntary and free. “That should be clear,” she added. The lawyer said that receiving payment from a client for paralegal service is illegal and that the culprit should be taken to court and prosecuted for the offence. She said that the paralegals should not be paid “because they are not lawyers.”

She said that they conduct a public legal clinic in Kitui County every year towards educating the local people on judiciary. “We are here to serve the public. We are public servants. Our office is open daily from 8am to 5pm,” she said.

On land issues, Ombata said one canot make a succession process when their parents are alive. “You only do so when your parents are dead,” she said. Shadrack Kagema from the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) Kitui County Office regretted that the defilement and sodomy cases in Kitui County are heinously on the rise. And he said some measures should be taken by relevant authorities and the society towards dealing with the vice.

“Every day we prepare about 10 prosecutions on the vice in the county,” Kagema said, adding that perhaps, the county is leading in defilement and sodomy cases in Kenya.  He regretted that some of the victims have been infected with the AIDS disease by their sexual molesters. The Kitui County Children’s Director, Augustine Nyamai, said: “Our main objective is to protect the children in our county and Kenya in general.”

Nyamai said that it is their responsibility to close a children’s home if the children in that home are brutalized. The director said that the fee that is paid by a person to adopt a child in Kenya goes to the government. “The adaptation is not the buying of a child. You can’t buy a person. And buying a person is illegal,” the children’s officer said, adding that a person gets an adoptee  for a child who is legally declared adoption-free.

The director asked people to report defilement cases to the police before 72 hours to secure evidence. Kagema asked them to be serious about children’s cases. To rescue a child from troubles, Nyamai asked people to call number 116 for free. He said that they do not have a remand for children in Kitui County and that it is their responsibility to talk to the headquarters in Nairobi to see whether they can get it for their children in the county.

The officer said that they do referrals for various children’s cases where he said the referrals include the counselling of the children. Kitui County Probation Director Koki Mwova said that the probation sentence is six months to three years. He educated the participants on the community service order (CSO) in Kenya.

On his part, the Kitui Paralegal Project (KPP) Coordinator, Josephat Muema Kasina, said that they go by the law. “Our office is for the public and we have about 30 members in Kitui County,” he added noting “We are the people to fight for everyone’s rights. We partner with the courts, children’s department, probation and police in our paralegal work. Our work is to see that the fair justice is done to the people”.

Boniface is a contributing reporter for the Kenya Free Press based in Kitui County

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