The European Union (EU) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) support the decision of the judiciary to integrate alternative justice systems.
Chief Justice David Maraga recently launched a policy to mainstream customary or traditional forms of justice in Kenya, which has been supported by the EU and UNODC.
The Basic Alternative Justice Systems (AJS) policy and associated policy framework were symbolically released on Katiba Day to mark the 10th anniversary of the promulgation of the Constitution of Kenya. The Constitution obliges the judiciary to promote traditional methods of dispute resolution.
Over the past two years, the EU and UNODC have supported the judiciary and its multi-stakeholder working group on traditional, informal and other dispute resolution mechanisms in Kenya (AJS working group) in formulating the policy and determining the viability and concrete means of integrating the AJS.
Speaking at the launch broadcast live at the Supreme Court, Chief Justice David Maraga said: “Today I am pleased to launch the policy which outlines how we can promote alternative justice systems in Kenya. . The formulation of the policy marks an important step in Kenya’s effort towards the realization, respect, observation, promotion and protection of the right to access to justice ”, adding that“ the policy gives effect to Article 159 (2) (c) of the Constitution, which is the legal and constitutional framework 7 on the multiple dispute resolution systems in Kenya.
EU Ambassador to Kenya Simon Mordue said he hoped the AJS policy would have far-reaching consequences by promoting effective access to justice for all Kenyans.
“What is being launched today is a fundamental policy for Kenya, a policy that will ultimately introduce customary and traditional means of dispute resolution from the periphery to the general public and recognize the legitimate place of alternative systems in the administration of contemporary justice in this country, “said Ambassador Mordue. .
As key partners of the judiciary in the development of this policy, the EU and UNODC have provided extensive support through the Kenya Legal Empowerment and Aid Delivery Program (PLEAD). This included the engagement of several expert consultants who strengthened the working group and assisted in policy and framework drafting processes, organizing more than eight working retreats and discussion forums, and communication support, including video production, graphic design and printing services.
In upholding international norms and standards, UNODC has taken a keen interest in the intent and content of the policy, for example, on aspects such as the protection of the most vulnerable and the nature of cases appropriate for AJS. , including contributing to the debate on cases of sexual violence and gender-based violence.
Kenyans from all walks of life have helped shape the basic policy of the AJS, including the councils of elders, civil society organizations and court users’ committees, and are now expected to play a key role in its implementation. work.
Alternative justice processes (AJS) are the administration of justice by people using their culture, customary law, practices and beliefs to resolve disputes. The AJS is a form of restorative justice, aims to ensure social inclusion, and is generally more affordable, participatory and faster than court proceedings. Alternative justice processes help reduce the burden on the courts and aim to strengthen the links between formal and informal justice systems rather than replacing recourse to the courts.