East Africa is ready for justice innovations – HiiL

The Innovating Justice Nairobi event took place the 21st April 2016 at the Strathmore University with Chief Justice Willy Mutunga and Manu Chandaria leading the discussion on justice innovation and the readiness for East Africa to take up such innovations. With more than four billion people estimated not to have adequate access to justice, the current systems was blamed for being slow, impersonal, hard to understand and too expensive thus locking out a majority of the citizens from accessing justice.

Other key players at the 2016 Innovating Justice Nairobi were the Acumen Fund, Coca Cola, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and Code for Africa.

On his part, Chief Justice Willy Mutunga noted that Justice Systems are not supplying what they should. “Only replicating existing procedures and models from elsewhere is likely to undermine trust in the justice system and will probably impede economic development, and will certainly not close the access to justice gap. New, innovative approaches to rule of law are needed to complement the more traditional approaches.”

His remarks were complimented by Manu Chandaria who was concerned about the plight of small business owners and the impediment of the 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.”

During the event, the morning was occupied by exclusive workshops for justice entrepreneurs conducted by LegalZoomBAKE and Strathmore’s Centre for Intellectual Property and IT Law.

Some of the solutions highlighted to ease the pressure on the formal justice systems include apps and online education to make populations more aware of their rights; social media technology which can provide insight into potential violations and be used to create more transparency; online platforms which can provide access to legal documents and availability of data to monitor efficiency, effective and accountability in various sectors.

Although the justice systems are traditionally funded, speakers explored the possibility of new and sustainable models to provide scalability and spill-over of such innovations.

The Nairobi Innovating Justice event brought together entrepreneurs, innovators, the legal fraternity and academia. These discussions are meant to set a foundation for the creation of the Justice hub in East Africa which is expected to start early next year.

HiiL is a not-for-profit institution based in The Hague, International City of Peace and Justice. It  partners  with NGOs, governments and legal entrepreneurs to improve rule-making and conflict resolution processes.


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