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Improving accountability through citizen participation: Court User Committees and women’s self-representation in courts

30.08.2013  07:35
As part of the Drivers of Accountability Programme Danida has supported the International Commission of Jurists Kenya (ICJ-K), and the Federation of Women Lawyers - Kenya (FIDA-K). ICJ-K’s purpose is to protect basic human rights and promote democracy and the rule of law throughout Kenya, whereas FIDA-k is focussing on eliminating discrimination of women through the provision of legal aid to all women.

The ICJ-K has expanded the access to justice through citizen-driven Court User Committees. ICJ-K has been targeting the Court User Committee (CUC) for Eldoret law courts to strengthen the policy dialogue between the public and the Committee. Working together with two local organisations, Eldoret Initiative on Conflict Resolution (ELDICORE), and Kenya Transparency and Accountability Network (KETRAN), they have been studying the causes for delays in decisions of cases in the Uasin Gishu court. This has produced a constructive interaction between the public and the Judicial Officers. The efforts of the CUCs, Alternative Dispute Resolutions (ADR) as well as the establishment of a gender desk in every police station in Uasin Gishu has led to children cases being minimised as well as gender-based violence cases being significantly reduced. Further due to the success of the Eldoret CUC the Kapsabet Law Courts in Nandi County and the Law Courts in Iten are now at the first stages of introducing CUC and local ADR structures.     

Federation of women lawyers (FIDA) is working to expand access to justice for indigent women. FIDA-K has managed to train over 240 women in self-representation in cases mostly regarding divorce and custodian maintenance. FIDA themselves are estimating that self-representation cases have a success rate of 85%, with the highest success rate in custody cases. FIDA-K has further over the past year managed to train the Council of Elders in Meru, Luo, Nyakach, Abagusii, Bukusu, Bakhayo, Kamba, and Kalenjin on gender, human rights, land, ADRs and mediation. This has led to the incorporation of women to the Council of Elders in Bukusu and Bakhayo and the Women’s League of the Council, fully headed by women elders at the Nyakach Council of Elders.

These two examples illustrate how the Drivers of Accountability Programme by supporting local organisations facilitate the involvement of local actors and promote better governance in Kenya through citizens’ participation.  

The Drivers of Accountability Programme (DAP) is a joint cooperation between the Danish International Development Agency (Danida), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID). The programme is promoting better governance in Kenya and is focussing on enhanced accountability and political stability. The support from DAP is focussed on three areas:   

1. Reduced impunity for elected representatives, officials and public institutions .

2. Key constitutional and electoral reforms will be implemented by the next general elections and the majority of legal provisions by 2014.

3. Responsiveness of service delivery will be enhanced and underpinned by an increase in citizens’ participation in decision-making.


To read more about the Drivers of Accountability Programme.


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