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Nanjala Christine

Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Kenya


International Conventions and instruments underlines the responsibility of Governments to implement sustainable, quality controlled, legal aid programs that deliver legal aid services without discrimination to all citizens. Access to justice is thus a concept widely acknowledged and accepted but continues to draw debates on its applicability. In Kenya legal aid services have become synonymous to access to justice. From a human rights perspective, provision of legal aid services can be looked at as an affirmation and recognition of the rights of the poor, bringing about equality before the law. It should however be observed that the nexus between the provision of services and the realization of human rights cannot be clearly pointed. Bearing in mind the importance of access to justice and in turn legal aid as an element of access to justice this paper seeks to explore the key determinants of effective legal aid services as provided by legal aid projects in Kenya.  The discourse begins with a background and definition of legal aid in Kenya. The legal provisions that encapsulate and strengthen the case for legal aid at the national and international arena are captured herein. Premised on these legal provisions have governments and civil society acted so as to enhance access to justice in Kenya. Funding, capacity of legal aid service providers, accessibility and awareness are some of the key elements that impact on legal aid service delivery. The four aspects are discussed in detail with some comparison from neighboring states. The paper concludes by observing that indeed the four aforementioned aspects have a bearing on legal aid service delivery. It goes on to recommend that service providers engage in public awareness and literacy campaigns to ensure legal literacy. It further urges the government to develop a legal and policy framework for legal aid; expand legal aid service provision to cater for alternative forms of justice; integrate paralegal into the justice system so as to enhance capacity of service providers; consult with law society of Kenya and offer incentives to advocates to engage in pro bono services and to mobilize resources for legal aid activities.

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