The High Court in Machakos has sensitized Chiefs in the County on alternative dispute resolution and their role in administration of justice with regard to succession and land matters.
During a two-day workshop attended by area County Commissioner Matilda Waswa, Deputy and Assistant County Commissioners, Machakos Court Users Committee (CUC) members and Chiefs from the County, High Court Judge Pauline Nyamweya and Environment and Land Court Judge Oscar Angote said Chiefs were the first contact in succession and land matters at the local level hence the need to build their capacity to equip them with knowledge on how to help the court expedite such matters.
Justice Nyamweya said Machakos CUC identified Chiefs as a strategic group owing to their role as key implementers of justice in terms of enforcement of law and order in criminal cases and as arbitrators as well as a key group that supplement the traditional systems with regard to dispute resolution.
They enable many Kenyans who cannot afford or have limited access to the formal legal system depend on customary norms and institutions, including that of the Chief, for dispute resolution, access justice.
“They are also considered as authoritative and impartial providers of information to the Court which may be required in decision making on matters affecting citizens within their areas of jurisdiction, particularly in succession and land disputes,” explained the judge.
She identified high fee, geographical location of courts, complexity of rules and procedure and the use of unfamiliar legal terminologies and language as some of the factors that impede access to justice through the formal court system.
Lady Justice Nyamweya said that the importance of customary dispute settlement and justice systems stems from their use in the regulation of important aspects of daily life, such as access to land and natural resource management, and family issues such as inheritance and marriage.
She explained that alternative dispute resolution mechanisms in the context of participatory justice delivery such as arbitration, mediation and conciliation provide affordable legal assistance and redress with minimal involvement of the formal court procedures adding that they are also flexible, informal and leave room for parties to find their own lasting solutions to their problems while fostering personal relationships, and result in mutually satisfying outcomes.
“Eventually, participatory justice delivery should result…