Legal aid for prisoners in Kenya and Uganda

A Kenyan man hugs a woman, with several other smiling people standing around behind him

Morris Kaberia celebrates after being released from prison (via Face2Face Africa)

Face2Face Africa recently published an interesting profile of the African Prisons Project, which provides legal aid to prisoners in Kenya and Uganda.  Many imprisoned people can’t afford a lawyer or effectively defend themselves without assistance.  APP runs legal advice clinics in prisons, and also offers a bachelor of law (LLB) degree through the University of London’s remote study program.

The state of legal aid in Kenya is patchy.  The Department of Justice formed a pilot legal aid program in 2007, and it also proposed legislation to expand the program around 2015.  However, the state of implementation is unclear, with many articles mentioning an action plan for activities, but few actual activities.  Private organizations like Kituo Cha Sheria and Namati also provide some legal aid.  I haven’t been able to find statistics on the proportion of Kenyan court cases where defendants have legal representation, but anecdotally the percentage still seems low, so there do appear to be gaps left to fill.