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Mobile legal aid clinic launched to enhance justice

The National Legal Aid Service (NLAS) has rolled out mobile legal aid clinic to enhance justice for vulnerable and marginalized groups.

The initiative supported by the European Union (EU) through the Programme for Legal Empowerment and Legal Aid in Kenya (PLEAD) targets to provide legal aid to indigents and vulnerable citizens who cannot afford services of advocates to seek redress in court.

Twelve counties where PLEAD is being implemented are set to benefit from free legal services following the launch of the mobile clinic in Kisumu on Tuesday.

NLAS Board Chairlady Mrs. Grace Thuku said the initiative was in line with the agency’s mandate to make legal aid services accessible, affordable, accountable, transparent and efficient.

Speaking during the launch of the clinic at Kaloleni and Obunga in Kisumu Central Sub-County, Thuku said State Counsels attached to NLAS will review cases presented by the various complainants and offer free legal advice.

Cases that can be resolved at that level through mediation and other alternative dispute mechanisms, she said, shall be handled while others shall be pursued further to ensure that the victims who hitherto could not afford to hire advocates get justice.

“This is the first clinic we are having. We have brought the National Legal Aid Service (NLAS) offices from Nairobi to sit here in Kisumu to meet the people where it hurts,” she said.

The team, she said, will also take the clinic to Nyalenda B and Ahero on Wednesday and Thursday before moving to other counties under the program.

NLAS, she said, was determined to enhance access to legal aid in the country adding that regional offices had been opened in Kisumu, Eldoret, Nakuru and Mombasa to bring services closer to the people.

Additional offices, she said were set to be opened in other marginalized areas of Tana River, Lamu, Isiolo and Marsabit. Lack of resources, she said remained the biggest impediment towards enhancing access to legal aid in the country, lauding partners who have joined hands with the government to sustain the services.

Godia Mudavadi, State Counsel in charge of Kisumu said most of the issues raised during the clinic bordered on succession, land, child neglect and eviction.

“Land remains an emotive issue in this area. Most of the cases have dragged on in court for years because we did not have enough magistrates. The judiciary has since gazetted magistrates to head land matters and we hope the cases shall be expedited,” he said.

Ann Wainaina, State Counsel based at the NLAS head office said more vulnerable Kenyans continue to benefit from legal aid adding that the mobile clinic will serve to create awareness on the services.

In the last one year alone, she added, NLAS has handled over two million cases, an indicator that the demand for legal aid in the country was huge.

NLAS is a body corporate at the State Law Office established under the Legal Aid Act 2016 and is mandated to among other things facilitate the provision of legal aid services in a coordinated manner to the indigent, vulnerable and marginalized citizenry.

By Chris Mahandara

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