National Alternative Justice System (AJS) Conference Advocates Inclusive Solutions to Accelerate Access to Justice

The third National Conference on the Implementation of Alternative Justice Systems (AJS), organized by the National Steering Committee (NaSCI-AJS), took place at Kabarak University, in Nakuru County from June 4th to June 7th, marking the first time the event was held outside Nairobi. The conference, under the theme “Accelerating People-Centered Justice in Kenya: Engaging, Expanding, and Retooling AJS,” brought together a diverse group of participants including judicial officers, academic experts, civil society representatives, state officials, and members of indigenous communities.

Participants follow discussions at the AJS Conference.

Chief Justice Martha Koome, leading the initiative under the Social Transformation Through Access to Justice (STAJ) framework, emphasized the critical role of Alternative Justice Systems in promoting cohesive and peaceful communities. In her opening speech on June 5th, she highlighted the importance of Article 159 of the Constitution, which supports AJS as a method to provide affordable, flexible, and effective justice solutions, thereby reducing congestion and backlogs in the courts.

“The NaSCI-AJS has sustained this movement, which has now come to fruition. AJS is an affordable, flexible, and effective process in reducing congestion and case backlogs in our courts,” said Chief Justice Koome.

She underscored the significance of county-based actions and collaborations in enhancing the justice system across the country.

ActionAid Kenya and its partners from Taita Taveta County played a pivotal role in the conference by participating in panel discussions, where they contributed ideas on innovative measures to ensure justice remains people centered. The organization emphasized the necessity of collaborating closely with grassroots actors, including cultural and religious leaders and organized social action groups, to facilitate effective and inclusive justice mechanisms.

“As an organization, we believe justice should be accessible and affordable,” stated Pauline Atieno, ActionAid Kenya Local Rights Programme Coordinator in Taita Taveta County. “The Alternative Justice System (AJS) embodies these principles, offering a transformative approach to dispute resolution.”

Pauline Atieno, Local Rights Programme Coordinator for ActionAid Kenya in Taita Taveta County, shares her insights during a panel session

Drucilla Ngele, a chief from Mbololo, Voi, Taita Taveta County, shared her experiences with AJS, stating,

“I have handled 14 land disputes, 25 child neglect cases in my area, amongst other disputes, and I appreciate that the judiciary recognizes my efforts as an alternative justice for justice seekers.”

The event also featured submissions from various sectors, showcasing the integration of cultural diversity in handling justice cases. This diverse representation aimed to highlight and reinforce the theme of “People-Centered Justice in Kenya,” showcasing how different communities approach justice in ways that resonate with their cultural practices.

The conference concluded with various actors exhibiting their cultural approaches to justice, reinforcing the idea that justice systems should be inclusive, accessible, and reflective of the people they serve.

Author:  Pauline Atieno, Local Rights Programme Coordinator – Taita Taveta. 

Edited by Ezra Kiriago ,Communications Coordinator ActionAid Kenya.

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