As soon as Kenya confirmed its first Coronavirus patient mid March, the Judiciary took measures to ensure delivery of justice for all countrywide continued despite the pandemic. While elsewhere in the continent whole justice systems were being shut down, the decision to keep the country’s wheels of justice turning was lauded
Now well into the third month of implementation of such measures as online trials, open-air court sessions and reduction of bail terms to free up jails, challenges are emerging with the poor being the most affected.
“Covid-19 (curb measures) present a big challenge as they ignore what had become a common slogan; that no one should be left behind,” says Beatrice Njeri, a senior legal officer at the Centre for Rights Education and Awareness.
Speaking during a recent Webinar organised by the International Commission of Jurists and the lawyers hub, Ms Njeri was referring to the fact that in courts litigants are represented by lawyers and others do it themselves.
It is this latter group that largely comprises the poor who can’t afford to hire lawyers that is at greater risk of being left behind during this crisis. While lawyers have been logging on Zoom to represent their clients, Ms Njeri reckons that that is a luxury the poor can’t afford especially with recent studies showing they are the most economically battered by the pandemic.