Have you ever heard of the Children’s Service Week?
by Constance Ndeleko
The first ever Children’s Service Week was launched at the Milimani Children’s Court in April 2016. The objective of the Service Week was to apply strategies to help courts deal with heavy case backlog. The strategies were also to enhance speedy resolution of cases to ensure children spend as little time as possible in the justice system as required by Law.
The very successful service week that saw many children exit the justice system and commence rehabilitation within record time, inspired the Justice Koome led NCAJ Special Task Force on Children’s matters to organize a National Service Week for Children in November of 2016. During the week, courts nationwide sat to hear cases involving children either as witnesses or those in conflict with the law.
Following the National Service Weeks, the Children’s Task Force identified 6 ‘hotspot’ court stations with heaviest backlog of children’s issues and conducted service weeks in April and May of 2017 in the hotspot areas namely; Lodwar, Narok, Bungoma, Kitale, Kilgoris and Shanzu.
The Chief Justice in his 2018 State of the Judiciary address acknowledged the contribution of the service weeks in reduction of backlog. Over 3000 cases were handled and concluded as a result of the service weeks.
The 2018 round of service weeks started early July in Ngong Law Courts. Kilifi Law Courts just completed their service week (22-27 July 2018).Malindi will be 6-10 August followed by Nakuru 13-17. Meru and Lamu will have their Service Weeks in September.
The Service Weeks are organized by the US Department of Justice in conjunction with the NCAJ Task force on Children’s Matters and the various Court User’s Committees. Advocates, Mediators and Paralegals receive on job training and participate in resolution of cases through mediation and plea bargaining. Volunteers may also provide counseling and psycho social support to children and their parents during the service weeks.