East African Innovators have been urged to come up with innovations that will transform the Justice system, making it more accessible, especially to the poor. As it stands, a majority of the population have no access to legal system, especially in Africa, with figures standing at over four billion globally. 50 per cent of East Africans are estimated not to have adequate access to justice, with the current systems blamed for being slow, impersonal, hard to understand and too expensive; thus locking out a majority of the citizens.
Speaking at an Innovating Justice conference organised by Dutch legal firm Hiil, LegalZoom and the Bloggers Association of Kenya and hosted by Strathmore University Law School, Chief Justice Willy Mutunga admitted that the Justice system in Kenya is far from fully performing as it should. He, however, noted that the Western aren’t working all that well either.
“I believe we can add a lot more value to what justice system can do for citizens through new technologies, cutting edge knowledge on conflict resolution, and new forms of organisation,” said Mutunga.
The CJ added that Kenya, with its innovation hubs and technology hubs, can be a leader when it comes to justice innovation while entrepreneurs can make a difference and should feel empowered to innovate the justice system.
According to Mutunga new approaches will enable accessibility to justice and especially for a country like ours, where we are in the middle of a widely supported transformation process and where we have a lot of room to develop new things.
“Apps and online education can make large populations aware of their rights and give them access to the right information at the right time to enforce them,” he said.
His remarks were complimented by Dr Manu Chandaria who was concerned about the plight of small business owners and the impediment of slow and bureaucratic justice systems to the smooth operations of the small and micro businesses. “We have not seen regulations into these sectors bringing about a better way of operation. We still continue to witness oppression of small business owners and something must be done quickly to arrest this situation.”