Effective 10th May 2016, the Legal Aid act No. 6 of 2016 of the laws of Kenya is enforceable. The only challenge being that it is a money bill and now stakeholders are lobbying for budgetary allocation in the next budget.
Acording to the act section 9.
(1) The Service shall be governed by a board which
shall consist of— Establishment of Board of Service.
(a) a person appointed by the President from among persons qualified to be appointed as a judge of the High Court, who shall be the chairperson;
(b) a judge of the High Court nominated by the Chief Justice;
© the Principal Secretary in the Ministry for the time being responsible for matters relating to justice;
(d) the Principal Secretary in the Ministry for the time being responsible for matters relating to finance; the Principal Secretary in the Ministry for the time being responsible for the interior and coordination of National Government;
(f) the Director of Public Prosecutions or his representative;
(g) one person nominated by the Law Society of Kenya; (h) one person nominated by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights;
(i) one person nominated by the Council for Legal Education;
(j) one person elected by a joint forum of Public Benefit Organizations offering legal aid to the public, including women, youth and children;
(k) one person nominated by the National Council of Persons with Disabilities; and
(l) the Director.
This means paralegal practitioners have a slot in the board, Is this an opportunity for PASUNE (Paralegal Network in Kenya) headed by legal resources foundation and Kituo cha sheria some of the veterans in paralegal work in Kenya.
What I love about this bill is the fact that it obligates the service under its functions in section 7. (1)
The functions of the Service shall be to—
(f) provide grants in aid for specific schemes to various voluntary social service institutions, for the implementation of legal aid services under this Act;
This gives room for funding from the government which for long paralegal practitioners have been craving for. This avenue could be easy channel for funding for politically correct lines of operations where the paralegal projects supplements the duties of the government for example in prisons where as for those working with marginalised communities it may be a little tricky for them. I remember during my visit to the Zola advise center in Soweto Johannesburg one of the advise centers that receives funding from the government one of the concerns was the independence of the advice center.