Published on 27th September 2016 by

Inside Out (2014): For most people that encounter the Kenyan judicial system, the experience ends in a lengthy jail sentence. Now, thanks to a pioneering project, the prisoners are fighting back against these injustices.

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“You find a lot of people in detention do not even know why they’ve been arrested… they just cannot afford a lawyer”, says Aimee Ongeso, who works for Justice NGO. In Kenya’s underfunded, overused and disorganised legal system, most of its defendants are illiterate and impoverished. In a vicious cycle, prisons are stretched to their limits and as Aimee explains, “justice has become more expensive, just like petrol, or like buying a loaf of bread. The price of justice keeps going up”. Moreover, many inmates are in prison purely because they were unable to pay for a legal defence. But one prison officer has taken an extraordinary step to solve this seemingly impossible problem. Wanini Kireri’s policy of encouraging ‘paralegals’ revolves around the idea of teaching inmates to operate within a courtroom themselves. Together they work on each other’s cases and where possible they set each other free. As Helen, an inmate and paralegal, states, “to get somebody that you assisted being released, you feel good – it is the best.”

ABC Australia – Ref. 6287

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