Judiciary launches alternative justice system in Narok County

Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu has launched the Alternative Justice System (AJS) County Action Plan (CAP) model and suite for Narok County to reduce case backlog and expedite the resolution of disputes in local courts.

AJS, she said, will promote dispute resolution including reconciliation, mediation, arbitration and traditional dispute resolution mechanisms.

She observed that CAP identifies a number of justice challenges in the county among them multiple forms of gender-based violence that include sexual violence, which are prevalent across the county but often normalized, underreported, and concealed.

Mwilu stated that a key challenge damaging the legitimacy of AJS mechanisms is that of gender equality, equity and justice, saying some AJS mechanisms, both in composition and process, disfavor women and girls and fail to accord them the rights due to them.

However, to deal with such ills, she said, it is necessary to ensure that the existing forms of AJS in the county are constitutionally compliant and operate within the outer boundaries set out in the Constitution.

“We must abandon the assumption that AJS practitioners, especially elders who come from communities in which harmful and discriminatory cultural practices occur or are prevalent, are disinterested or incapable of shifting beliefs and practices to comply with constitutional requirements,” she reiterated.

The launch was held at TM grounds in Narok town and attended by Narok Governor Patrick Ntutu, Kajiado Governor Joseph Ole Lenku, Justice Professor Joel Ngugi and Narok County Assembly Speaker Davis Dikirr.

The Lady Justice continued that the judiciary’s obligation to promote AJS is being actively pursued under a human rights framework anchored by the duty to respect, protect and transform.

“There is increased recognition amongst AJS practitioners that there can be no legitimacy where the composition, operations and decisions of these mechanisms are unconstitutional or result in rights violations and discrimination,” said the lady justice.

Governor Ntutu said the County Government will donate land and build three courts at Olkurto, Angata Barikoi and Loita areas to ease suffering for the people who travel long distances to seek justice in a court of law.

Ntutu reiterated that the county government sponsored the process because he is interested in seeing justice delivered to the people at a faster rate.

“I request all the cases still lying in court to be withdrawn and taken to AJS. Some of these cases have dragged for very many years,” he said.

On his part, Governor Lenku said his county was among the first counties to launch AJS in the county saying it has helped the residents get justice faster than the formal court way.

He said since Kajiado launched the programme, over 200 cases have been registered through AJS out of which 140 cases have been resolved amicably.

“The system leaves a win-win situation. It is less costly as people do not have to travel long distances to resolve their issues,” he said.

Mzee Maranga Otuni praised the system saying it will bring justice to the less fortunate and vulnerable people in the society.

“In AJS, people will come confidently. No one will be coerced to give any amount of money in order to get justice. The panelists will deal with the case in a very objective manner so that everyone can get justice,” he said.

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