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Reprieve for Lamu locals as court reopens

[One of the CUC members Mohammed Abdulkadir during a meeting convened by MUHURI. Photo/MUHURI].

Lamu Law Courts, which closed when coronavirus hit, has reopened.

Last week, a Court Users’ Committee (CUC) that Human rights organisation MUHURI facilitated and convened resolved to open the court.

On September 7, in-person sittings resumed.

County’s health department gave a nod for resumption but in line with the government’s protocols to combat the spread of Covid-19.

The right lobby is working towards installing tents at the Lamu Fort as the court remains an open air.

The court closure resulted in case backlogs according to the CUC.

MUHURI has been pushing for the reopening of the court. It held several meetings over the subject with the CUC.

The Organisation’s Field officer Ali Shee said lack of a court in Lamu East, one of the only two sub-counties in Lamu, exacerbated the situation.

He also said virtual hearings disadvantaged some.

Sexual violence

“Rape and defilement cases in Mokowe were spiking,” Shee said.

The resumption of the court sittings according to MUHURI will speed up cases to allow victims to access justice.

The human rights organisation convened and facilitated the CUC meeting under the Programme for Legal Aid and Delivery in Kenya (PLEAD).

The European Union (EU), through the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Amkeni Wakenya, supports PLEAD.

PLEAD is enhancing access to justice for the poor and vulnerable. It is focusing on legal-aids or street laws.

Justice delayed

MUHURI gathered locals’ concerns over court closure and access to justice through numerous street laws.

“We then presented the issues to the CUC and the committee saw the sense of resuming in-person sessions,” Shee, Lamu PLEAD-focal person said.

[The court in session. Photo/MUHURI].

Last month MUHURI rooted for mobile courts in Lamu’s remote areas.

Shee said most residents gave up trying to access justice ever since the mobile courts stopped in January, ostensibly because of Judiciary budget cuts by the Executive.

Each time a mobile court was in Lamu East, it used to handle an average of three cases, translating to an average of 12 cases in a month.

MUHURI has since urged the government to resume mobile courts in the County.