The Nyamira Court has lauded stakeholders’ collaboration and concerted efforts to expedite child matters in court, thus enabling them to access timely justice.
Nyamira Resident Magistrate Benaya Okongo observed that since the initiation of an implementation framework of close collaboration with line stakeholders for speedy investigations of child matters, the outcome has been very commendable.
“One of our main strategies in the initiated implementation framework was the provision of children’s protection units at all police stations within the county where children can freely record their statements with the help of officers at the station without intimidation and can undergo trauma counseling privately without interference from other adults who are likely to coach them to give false information,” the magistrate explained.
“The children’s department has been very cooperative and instrumental in giving quick reports about children who have a matter in court, whether they are the complainants or are in conflict with the law. This enables the court to know the real status of the child in court and take immediate interventions that ensure they are safe as their matters continue in court,” Mr. Okongo added.
The magistrate highlighted that the child protection units have enabled children to record timely statements before they are watered down by interest parties out to deny them justice.
Okongo thanked partner non-governmental organizations that provide safe spaces and take care of children in need of care and protection until they finish testifying.
On his part, Nyamira South Sub County Children Officer Billy Adera said most children are greatly intimidated and scared by the police station environment, which makes a majority of them unable or shy away from recording true statements about the matter at hand.
The child protection units, he noted, provide private, conducive, and safe spaces where they can stay, play, and record accurate statements as they wait to be presented before court.
The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) officials in Nyamira provide pro bono legal representation for children with matters in court.
Doing so ensures that the matter before the court continues uninterrupted up to its conclusion without unnecessary adjournments.
Mr. Abudo Duba, from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP), said they have also introduced diversion of children cases. He explained that diversion is an alternative court process where some cases are resolved without proceeding to court, and it is provided for in the new Children’s Act.
“Diversion is speedily gaining ground and has greatly reduced the number of cases taken to court, though not all cases are diverted. Capital criminal offenses and sexual offenses are some of the cases where diversion is not guaranteed,” explained the ODPP.
They were speaking during the Nyamira Children Court Users Committee meeting.
By Deborah Bochere