Justice for one is justice for all.
Breaking down barriers; Access to Justice in East Africa
Do you know what’s the most important aspect of any society? Justice. It’s the bedrock that upholds the values and principles of fairness, accountability, and equality. And in East Africa, the justice system is no different. The goal is to provide fair and accessible justice to all, regardless of their background or socio-economic status.
Efforts have been made to harmonize and integrate the justice systems of East African countries under the East African Community (EAC) framework. The East African Court of Justice (EACJ) was established to handle disputes among member states and individuals. But, as with any system, there are still challenges to ensuring access to justice for all. Corruption, limited resources, and inadequate infrastructure are just a few of the hurdles that need to bead dressed.
The rule of law demands adherence to principles such as the supremacy of the law, equality before the law, accountability to the law, fairness in its application, separation of powers, participation in decision-making, legal certainty, avoidance of arbitrariness, and procedural and legal transparency. However, the implementation of these principles can sometimes result in miscarriages of justice. That’s where the procedural justice system comes into play.
Different parties have different perceptions of justice. The prosecution may view a conviction as justice, while the defense and the accused may view exoneration as justice. But, ultimately, it’s the procedural justice system that ensures fairness and equality for all parties involved. It’s important to explore and improve this system to ensure that the principles of the rule of law are upheld and that justice is served fairly.
The issue of fairness raises the question of whether justice is accessible to all individuals without discrimination. The principles of natural justice encapsulate the right to a fair hearing and the prohibition of bias, which are enshrined in the constitutions of Kenya and Uganda. It’s crucial to acknowledge that fundamental human rights and freedoms are inherent and cannot be denied to anyone.
But, unfortunately, the cost of legal services remains a significant barrier to accessing justice for many people in the region. Even with provisions for pro bono legal services, the system is prohibitively expensive. More support is needed to ensure that vulnerable groups have access to legal aid.
Eventually ensuring access to justice for all individuals, regardless of their socio-economic status, is vital to creating a fair and just society. The justice system in East Africa has made significant strides, but there’s still work to be done. By addressing the challenges and improving the procedural justice system, we can uphold the values of fairness, accountability, and equality for all.