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Lack of infrastructure hampering justice delivery

23 August 2013, 15:32 Ritchie Sakah

West Pokot - Lack of judicial institutions has been cited as a major hindrance to justice dispensation in West Pokot and Trans Nzoia Counties.

Speaking during a stakeholder’s forum held to forge the betterment of judiciary services, West Pokot principal magistrate Washika Mocho noted that the problem was hindering their work as members of the judiciary system and asked the County government to chip in and help them dispense justice at a faster pace to the locals.

“We cover great area. For instance, in West Pokot we have only one court based at Kapenguria which cannot deal with capital offences thus forcing those seeking justice to either seek the services from the Kitale or Eldoret Law Courts and as you know, justice delayed is justice denied,” Washika noted.

In the forum that brought together officials from the Children department, Prisons department, the Kenya Police Service and the Judiciary, it emerged that both Trans Nzoia and West Pokot Counties lacked facilities to cater for juvenile offenders forcing the minors to be mixed with the adults thus introducing them to the criminal world.

Washika said it was unfortunate that such a thing was going on, noting that the rights of the minors were being violated in the process.

“You find that both children and adults were being held at the same penitentiary facilities and thus exposing them to criminal life and may be they were just arrested for skipping school, a move that we are discussing with the County governments to see that bostal institutions are built in each county to carter for such young offenders,” She observed.

She also asked the County governments to build children courts in the two Counties to ease the hearing of children cases.

“It is a challenge when you are presented with a case facing a child and you are forced to ask all the people in court to move out so that you can attend to it when it could have been effectively dealt with by the children courts which are equipped to handle such cases,” She said.

On staffing issues, she said that the Judiciary did not have enough staff to handle the overwhelming work they do on daily basis and are therefore forced to outsource some services.

“We need the government to address the shortage of staff to increase our capacity to dispense justice to Kenyans in a better way,” she added.

The magistrate also noted that illiteracy was also a problem especially in West Pokot County where offenders especially of cultural crimes like female genital mutilation did not understand why they were being prosecuted thus forcing the courts to find an interpreter to explain to them hence slowing down the pace of their work as Judiciary.

“Sometimes you find an elderly woman who will scold you for not respecting her,” She said.

Washika also noted that they are going to hold open days through the Court Users Committee to enlighten locals on their rights as both arrested and general court users.

“We have discovered that during the forum most people fear courts because they think that when you are taken to a court you have to be jailed, a thing we want to demystify,” She noted.

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