Historic African Court in Lodwar to serve as Alternative Justice Systems suite
LODWAR, Kenya, August 30, 2023
The historic African Court located in Lodwar town has an extraordinary past linked with Kenya’s independence heroes.
The building, adjacent to the Lodwar Law Courts, will now serve as the Alternative Justice Systems suite, as the Judiciary embraces a multi-door approach to the delivery of justice.
The Ekukwo A Ateni AJS suite has been inaugurated by Chief Justice Martha Koome, who said that institutionalising traditional justice mechanisms, was not merely offering an alternative, but was a way of celebrating Kenya’s heritage.
“The AJS offers more than just a resolution to disputes. It offers reconciliation; it looks beyond the symptoms and addresses the very roots of conflicts, ensuring a harmonious society,” the Chief Justice emphasised.
She acknowledged that the people of Turkana have long upheld these traditions, and urged them to view the AJS suite as a symbol of the Judiciary’s commitment to preserve and promote this wisdom. “Embrace it, not as a new initiative but as a tribute to our age-old values and practices.”
She however cautioned the community and other partitioners of AJS that issues related to the defilement of children do not fall within the remit of Alternative Justice Systems.
“Therefore, when you come across an incident of defilement of a child, you must refer such cases to the police and the courts, for it to be dealt with as a criminal offence,” CJ Koome cautioned.
Speaking at the event, Turkana Governor Jeremiah Lomorukai said he will work closely with the AJS management committee to ensure proper training of AJS teams across the county.
“This will ensure this system serves all residents effectively while reducing the geographical distance as residents seek justice,” the Governor emphasised.
He expressed appreciation for the establishment of a court in Kakuma and for running a mobile court system that has improved access to justice in parts of the county.
“We urge you to increase courts in Turkana to at least every sub county,” he urged the Chief Justice.
Mukuruweini MP John Kaguchia thanked the Judiciary for inviting the National Assembly’s Justice and Legal Affairs Committee to Kakuma and Turkana saying: “ Our participation has enabled us to better appreciate matters relating to access to justice in these areas. Our Committee will be true champions for access to justice in Parliament,” he said.
The Chief Registrar of the Judiciary Anne Amadi told the people of Turkana that the stalled new court building would be finalised this Financial Year.
“I am glad to report that the construction of the new (Lodwar) court building will continue this financial year following the resolution of issues that had resulted in the delay, and the allocation of funds,” Amadi said.
The Judiciary also rolled out the electronic filing of cases, making Turkana the ninth to embrace e-filing across the country.
“The world around us is rapidly evolving. Digital innovations are continuously reshaping every sector of our lives. The Judiciary, the guardian of our constitutional democracy, has not been left behind. Embracing the promise of technology, we aim to redefine how justice is dispensed in our country,” CJ Koome said.
She assured that assistance desks would be set up at our court stations and Huduma Centres to ensure that every Kenyan, regardless of their technological expertise, finds a helping hand when they seek justice.
“We are pursuing a collaborative approach, through which we are working with other actors in the justice sector to ensure that no one or institution is left behind. In this regard, the Judiciary’s e-filling system is already integrated with the Uadilifu system of the ODPP reflecting our aspiration for an integrated and efficient justice ecosystem.”
Chief Justice Koome said the quest for enhanced service delivery would require collaboration, especially with County Governments in the area of land provision for developing physical infrastructure to house courts in constituencies that do not have court stations.