ACCESS TO JUSTICE
Recognizing that great progress has been made in formal equality but substantive equality is yet to be realized; Access to Justice Programme provides legal aid services to women in Kenya towards the realization of their social, economic, political and cultural rights. Through this Programme FIDA Kenya has to date offered legal aid to over 300,000 women. This is undertaken through the following interventions: -
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(1) Legal Advice and Litigation
Here FIDA Kenya in-house lawyers take up deserving cases and provide legal aid services in the form of advice, preparation of court documents and court representation. The success rate of the legal advice and litigation is 85%.
(2) Strategic Impact Litigation (SIL)
FIDA Kenya in an effort to continually engage in innovative approaches towards access to justice has embraced strategic impact litigation as an avenue to address widespread and systemic human rights violations and also matters of social justice vide a single proclamation. This creative technique of litigation is invaluable in bringing to light existing lacunae in policy and legislation and towards achieving this objective FIDA Kenya has been engaged in a number of public interest litigation cases in various courts across the country including Meru Petition no 8 of 2012 (160 Girls Litigation Project); Nairobi High Court Petition No 751 of 2006, FIDA Kenya and Anor. Vs. the Honorable Attorney General (The SOA Case) The Case involves challenging Section 38 of the Sexual Offences Act as being offensive especially to women. After the filing of this case, the Honourable Attorney General, drafted an amendment to the Sexual Offences Act that repealed the said section 38; Supreme Court Advisory Opinion No 2 of 2012 which involved an Advisory Opinion filed by the AG at the Supreme Court seeking the Court’s interpretation on whether application of the two-third gender principle as provided for under the Constitution was progressive or immediate, FIDA Kenya enjoined the case as an interested party to advocate for the immediate application of the two-thirds gender principle and Nairobi Petition No. 147 of 2013 National Gender Equality Commission vs. IEBC, FIDA Kenya was enjoined in the case as an interested party. The case was allowed and more women were nominated to the County Assemblies to achieve the two-third gender principle. Currently, the organization is litigations cases on women’s land and property rights, registration of children born out of marriage, compensation of IDPs after PEV, Tana River clashes, Labour Rights, Right to safe abortion and right of Victims to employ private lawyers as part of the prosecution team
(3) Pro bono Lawyers Scheme
Lawyers in public practice have continued to volunteer to serve under the FIDA Kenya pro bono lawyer’s scheme. This has helped women who reside far from the location of FIDA Kenya offices be able to access justice at a minimum cost. To enhance the pro bono lawyers’ capacity and as an incentive, FIDA Kenya offers the pro bono lawyers’ training on new and emerging legal issues.
This intervention was started by FIDA Kenya in the year 2002, as a strategy to further access to justice for needy women. Women are trained on the general court process, how to give evidence in court, how to cross-examine a witness as well as how to produce documentary evidence among other processes. The intervention has equipped women with knowledge and skills on how to represent themselves in court thus enabling them to file matters on less technical matters such in court and claim their rights with a success rate of 80%.At least 60% of judgments were executed between June 2015-june 2016.
(5) Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR):
With a view of enhancing family unity and mutual respect, FIDA Kenya initiated and runs a mediation program under which it seeks to avail its clients the opportunity to amicably resolve disputes through mediation. This is a voluntary process that allows parties in dispute to come up with their own tailor-made solutions to their differences. The sessions are conducted by trained in-house mediators being staff and external mediators drawn from different professional backgrounds. The success rate of this intervention has risen from 70%-79% between June 2015-june 2016.
FIDA Kenya has been sensitizing and creating awareness to the general public on the usefulness of mediation as an alternative dispute resolution mechanism that is both faster, cheaper, less adversarial and more oriented towards mending relationships in communities.
(6) Engagement with the Informal Justice Systems
FIDA Kenya recognizes the role played by informal justice systems (IJS) in delivering justice to local communities and is keen to ensure that the systems uphold the principles of human rights in their adjudication and work under legal provisions in the Constitution.
(7) Psychosocial Support
This is a program provided by FIDA Kenya that helps to empower women both physically and emotionally to face life’s challenges and to determine coping strategies. This is implemented through individual and group therapy sessions in line with budgetary provisions. The clients are incorporated into the organization's existing legal aid services to seek further solutions to their problems. Growths in internal coping mechanisms enable survivors to take up risks to better their lives.
(8) Partnerships and linkages
FIDA Kenya is alive to the fact that the work it does cannot be accomplished single-handedly. It is our belief that there is strength in numbers and we are therefore continuously seeking to identify and work with strategic partners who share our vision towards securing social justice for women. Our networking partners include Kenya police service, land office, judiciary and other organizations. This partnership has enabled more indignant women to access justice.