• April 19, 2024
  • Last Update April 19, 2024 7:23 AM
  • Nairobi

ODPP to Embrace Diversion and Plea Bargaining to Address Cases Backlog

Uasin Gishu

Friday March 15, 2024,

KNA by Ekuwam Sylvester

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP) held a consultative forum in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu to help find lasting solutions to address backlog of cases both at law courts and high court in Uasin Gishu.

Speaking when he presided over a conference that brought together various stakeholders from the National police service, advocates, prosecution team and others, themed; ‘Criminal Justice Administration and Adjudication of Cases in Uasin Gishu County’, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Renson Ingonga revealed that there were over 7000 pending criminal cases both in the magistrate and high courts.

He indicated that they must find ways of hastening the criminal trials and one of them is through Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), where parties in a conflict, may sit down and talk and agree on solutions to solve their cases without going to court, hence reducing time and cost as compared to when the case goes before the court which is a long process.

He noted that in the ODPP they embrace diversion and plea bargaining which is in essence the alternative justice system called ADR.

DPP Ingonga pointed out that there is a need to sensitize the members of the public to understand and embrace ADR because it will be easier for them to use it if the people understand and are ready to embrace it.

Additionally, ADR can happen even at the police station, if the parties in a case can sit down and decide to solve the case without going to court, which is acceptable according to the DPP.

“Before going to court, a case can come to us and we see that these are close people from one community, no need for them to go to court, they can speak and we talk to them to agree. That is called diversion, before it goes to course, you can agree and find a solution,” he explained.

“Plea bargaining is on case which has already gone to court, people are already in court and we see that they have agreed on each other, we say let us reduce these charges for instance it is a big offence we make it small offence and when they agree we conclude the case there to enable both sides get justice on time,” noted the DPP.

Ingonga noted that there are cases which are exempted from plea bargaining and ADR like those on terrorism, defilement and others.

Uasin Gishu governor, Jonathan Chelilim lauded the harmonious relationship between the county the judicial system which is reflected in the establishment and gazettement of two new courts in Moiben and Turbo sub counties to bring services closer to the people which will help reduce case backlog in the courts.

The courts will be equipped with modern amenities, including internet connectivity, ensuring that our residents no longer need to undertake a tough journey in search of justice.

“Our aim is to bring justice closer to the people, to reduce the burden on our citizens, and to expedite the resolution of cases,” noted the governor.

The establishment of these courts in Moiben and Turbo will significantly alleviate the challenges faced by law enforcement officers in transporting people to distant areas for legal proceedings, saving time and resources, and ultimately leading to the swift conclusion of cases.

He affirmed his administration’s support for the ADR Mechanism which he said empowers community leaders, such as chiefs and village elders, to play a more active role in mediation and conflict resolution.

“As members of the Court Users Committee (CUC), we are strong proponents of the Alternative Justice System (AJS). This system, rooted in our traditions and values, holds immense potential in resolving disputes swiftly and fairly,” noted Chelilim.

He hinted that, through the CUC, they are able to provide training and support to the community leaders, enabling them to effectively mediate conflicts and render fair judgments.

“One such example is the ongoing resolution of a decades-long land dispute in Kesses Sub County. Through the Alternative Justice System, we are making tangible progress towards granting title deeds to the involved parties,” he added.

He further pointed that, they are prepared to allocate additional spaces within the sub-counties to ensure that justice is accessible at the grassroots level.

Governor Chelilim called on the office of the Chief Justice to consider deploying more judges and magistrates to Eldoret, which is on the verge of receiving a charter to become the fifth city, to help boost access to justice up to the grass root level.

On his part, Justice Reuben Nyakundi, the presiding judge, Eldoret High Court, acknowledged the DPP for answering his call to come to help find lasting solutions to the overwhelming backlog of cases in Eldoret courts in order to ensure residents get justice on time.

“We have had discussions to find a lasting solution to the problem, so that the people in this region may get justice as per the constitution. The constitution states that if a case is started it should last for a specified period but sometimes, we find that in our courts a case may take up to 6 or 7 years in courts without judgement, which is worrying,” said Justice Nyakundi.

He outlined various reasons that may cause case delays like lack of witnesses for example on murder cases, missing case files among others.

He further commended the introduction of an e-filing system in the judiciary which he said will help hasten expedition of justice as case files will be accessed online as compared to when everything was done manually which sometimes caused delays as files got misplaced from time to time.

Courtesy; KNA

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *