Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic that began in Wuhan, China late last year and hit Kenya in the month of March, 2020, the justice system has been worst hit since courts could no longer convene to dispense justice for fearing of spreading the virus among the crowds that characterize court proceedings.
This has had a direct impact on inmates that were awaiting hearings, judgments, bail and bond reviews, change of plea, submissions of defenses among others. A heightened anxiety was created as these inmates could not tell their predicament while the judges remained stranded with their services.
Legal Resources Foundation has been on the forefront of championing for justice for all and in this difficult times, we were quick to find a solution. LRF has in a bid to neutralize the delay occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, has partnered with several court stations around Nairobi and linked the same to detention facilities within the county to establish a video-conference solution.
Through this video-conference innovation, judicial officers are able to hold virtual court sessions with inmates participating remotely from their various detention facilities such as Nairobi Remand And Allocation Prison, Lang’ata Women Prison among others.
Inmates in these facilities have received the innovation with excitement and a sigh of relief; since it has brought back to life their hope for hearing of their matters to their logical conclusion.
LRF is committed to continue with this project with more court stations and detention facilities in the country coming on board so that justice is not delayed despite the Corona virus scare.
While at this, LRF upholds high standards of adherence to the government’s directive on fighting COVID-19. The steps we have taken include: Keeping social distance, adhering to the prisons’ and courts’ internal regulations to combat COVID-19, ensuring our staff wear face masks, use hand sanitizing solutions and wash their hands regularly; we also provide face masks for the inmates appearing in the virtual court sessions.
The step taken by LRF in collaboration with the prisons and courts has proved to be a great step at testing our preparedness and commitment to ensure that justice is done even in the most difficult times. This step has helped to de-congest the detention facilities and clear the backlog that was building up day by day in the courts.