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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Legal Literacy in Kachare Boys Reformatory Centre


Kachere Boys Reformatory Centre was originally built in the 1960s as a remand centre.  While over the past two years significant strides have been made in improving conditions at Kachere, sleeping and sanitary conditions remain sub-standard. Kachere was originally built with a capacity for 70 persons.  While writing this post today I am saddened to say that there are 202 boys being held at Kachere, 33 are awaiting trial (16 of who are answering charges of homicide) with the remainder serving sentences for a variety of offences from simple theft to robbery and homicide.

Ruth facilitating training
The vast majority of the boys held at Kachere have never had access to a lawyer to assist them in their criminal case. Recently we have begun to work more closely with the paralegals from the Paralegal Advisory Institute Services (‘PASI’) who visit Kachere regularly to assist on aspects of the boys’ legal defence. In the past PASI have held legal literacy programmes in Kachere to educate the boys about court procedures, what they can expect when standing before a court and the steps that they should take to improve their access to justice.  Last week we facilitated a ‘legal literacy programme’ with PASI.  The programme was delivered by Mr Alex Nkunika, paralegal with PASI.  Mr Nkunika has many years of experience in delivering programmes of this nature with vulnerable youths.  His interaction with the boys was excellent.  The use of theatre to demonstrate the importance of accuracy in everything they say before a Magistrate or Judge was a clever way of imparting this important message.  Mr Nkunika was able to assure the boys that in the absence of a lawyer it is within their abilities to tell their ‘stories’,  clearly demonstrate the importance of telling the truth and show the importance of this in accessing justice in their case.

As a result of this intervention it is hoped that more boys will be empowered to advocate for their own rights and find the voice to demand access to justice!

By Ruth Dowling BL

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