Prisoners in Kenya

During a Balkan summit in Ohrid, Macedonia I met an inspiring person.

Her name is Christine John – a British solicitor. She is travelling on a regular bases to Africa, organizing defense for prisoners- free of charge.

Some years back Christine has been  co-owner of a law firm. One day she has has understood the calling from God about leaving the profitable business and heading in direction to the homeless people in Peru. After consulting with family, Christine gives a one year notice before leaving the English comfort zone.

I was impressed by her self sacrifice and determination visible in her eyes. There was a desire to inform the public about the difficult conditions in Kenya’s prisons:

Government officials claim that almost 90 % percent of the prisoners, don’t deserve to be behind bars.

 

 

 

 

So how does a person end up in prison?  The poor people are most vulnerable.

Put yourself in their position. You get caught by the police for an offence that was done. No evidences, no witnesses. You are arrested, because you are poor and thus easy to manipulate.

Of course you don’t have money to pay for bribes or for bail. So no finances to hire a lawyer. So no money- you stay in jail until the judicial system starts operating – months even years may pass. Finally comes the trial day. Most of the prisoners represent themselves in court. And the statistics show a high persentage of death sentances given to people without lawyers.

So the outcome of the trial is evident: without knowing the procedures, the terms and practices.The accused person is sent to prison. This way the course of a someone’s life is re-directed. Living a horror film in reality.

 

 

British christian lawyers dedicate themselves to helping. They represent free of charge accused people in Kenya, Ruanda, Uganda. Travelling to Africa whenever they are free, taking time off the schedules back in the UK.

I’ve heard a lot of disturbing stories, some of them with a happy end.

For example around 100 women stayng in prison. The judge’s decission was “Not guilty”.

But the document for letting the women go, never arrived from the court to the prison’s administration.

Being held up in someone’s corrupted or negligent hands…

After the persistent work of CLEAR International representatives, these women were free of prison!

 

 

I reminded Christine about the Bulgarian medics, sentenced to death in Lybia.

She knew about the issue and the 8 years of hardships, before being set free.

 

 

Another success for the volunteering lawyers was a success for homeless children on the streets of Nairobi. Providing ID cards, means that these children start to exist in the records of the governmet. This provides health care and a chance to be emplayed after they grow up.

 

The organisation of Kenyan Christian Lawyers is also trying to make a difference.

They have started a copying center. For free there are copied the court decissions of the trials.

 A lot of people, being so poor, can not pay a tax for seeing the court decission.

This way they’ don’t know the exact reasons and based on which part of the law they are inprisoned.

So this copy center is a practical way to help.

 

 

 

Another inspiring example is the Kenyan lawer: Victor Kamau. He is blind, but that doesn’t stop him from practising the profession.

Not being able to see, he has masted in being a great speaker. A great example for his olleagues.

 

I am writing this story to address the subject for human rights.

Also to show a picture to some  Bulgarians who constantly compalin of the conditions on the Balkans.

Hey, there are people on planet Earth that struggle for their lives. Being unhappy because your mobile phone is not new or that the salaries aren’t as high as in European Union? That doesn’t help.

Being grateful of what you have and helping others in a worse condition that you…

That is admirable, noble and an inspiring example!

 

 All photos taken from

CLEAR International website

 

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Prisoners in Kenya

  1. international@lawcf.org 30, юни, 2008 / 14:49

    I wouldn’t want anyone to think this was just Christine John’s idea! The project began in Africa as a project of the Kenyan Lawyers’ Christian Feloowship and later was partnered by LCF UK, for whom I work.

    It is an amazing priviledge to work for the Lord as a lawyer, called by him to serve the poorest in the world!

    Cj

  2. bulpete 30, юни, 2008 / 14:49

    Thanks for the comment, Christine!
    Keep up the good work, with the help from above!

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