Court users in Lamu East are set to benefit from better access to justice and timely execution of cases after the European Union offered of a Kshs 10 million boat to enable the judiciary effectively run mobile court system.
The Kshs 10 million MV Adil boat was acquired by the office of the ODPP through the United Nation’s Office on Drugs and Crime Programme for Legal Empowerment and Aid Delivery.
The mobile court system is a fixture in Lamu judicial circuit, with court officials expected to regularly travel to far inaccessible areas of Pate, Faza and Kiunga to hear and determine court cases for residents who cannot afford to travel to Lamu Island for their cases to be heard.
The MV Adil boat aims at improving the frequency with which these court sessions are carried out with court officials now having their own boat rather than being forced to hire private ones.
Speaking during the launch and handover of the MV Adil at the KPA Lamu jetty the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Hajj stated the new boat will aid in addressing the delivery of justice to residents of Pate, Faza, Kiunga and Kiwayu to ensure justice was not delayed.
“Due to the logistical challenges posed by Lamu’s geographical nature, the boat is a welcome add-on aimed at improving the justice delivery especially in Lamu East,” Hajj stated.
He further acknowledged that justice delivery in Lamu East needed to be improved, leading to the ODPP to partner with the European Union to deliver a boat aimed at alleviating justice delivery in Lamu.
“This boat is part of the ODPP’s plan aimed at ensuring that no Kenyan seeking justice feels marginalized and unable to access justice within our courts,” he stated.
He further noted that the boat signals a commitment to cooperate and collaborate across the criminal justice system in addressing justice delivery challenges.
Sentiments echoed by Malindi High Court Judge Reuben Nyakundi who stated that the boat is a game changer in terms of aiding tackle Lamu East case backlog.
“Geographically, Lamu and Tana River counties pose unique challenges that need to be addressed by innovative initiatives such as frequent mobile courts that are better aided when judicial officers have access to their own boat facilities,” Justice Nyakundi stated.
Acting European Union Ambassador Katrin Hagemann whose organization facilitated the ODPP with the boat stated that the MV Adil boat initiative will increase Lamu court’s operational capacity.
“The boat is part of the European Union’s wider initiative in Sub Saharan Africa to improve access to justice operational capacity regardless of where one lives,” the diplomat stated.
Lamu Court Users association member Sheikh Mohammed Abdikadir also commended the ODPP and the EU for the facilitating the boat that will aid in providing better access to justice for Lamu East resident and urged that the boat be always facilitated by way of fuel constantly.
“For the access to justice initiative to succeed here in Lamu, the ODPP needs to ensure that the boat is always fuelled and not end up a white elephant initiative due to lack of fuel resources,” Sheikh Abdikadir stated.
Haki Africa Programme Coordinator Hussein Khalid, further urged the ODPP to ensure that the boat stays operational at all times to ensure that its full impact is felt in areas where residents have not had the pleasure of accessing justice reliably.
By Amenya Ochieng