The CRADLE’s Legal Aid Program is the core program of the organization.
The primary objective of the program is to:
- Enhance access to justice for children;
- Provide healing to children who are traumatized through psycho-social support.
Projects and Activities
The program meets its objectives through several initiatives including the following:
- Legal Advice and Representation Children are offered legal advice and court representation in the Legal Clinic. This is done nationally. The CRADLE also runs a special program in the Nairobi Children’s Court where it maintains a duty advocate and has established a Child’s Desk and a Teddy-Bear Clinic for children to enhance access to justice for children. Cases dealt with under the Legal Aid Clinic include cases of children in conflict with the law, child protection cases and family law matters.
- Impact Litigation The CRADLE has taken several impact litigation cases on child rights. This includes the case of RM, a 2-year old child who sued the government for discriminating against children born out of wedlock. This constitutional reference matter was dismissed by the constitutional court. The matter is to be taken for appeal to the Court of Appeal in Kenya. The CRADLE also brought a suit in the High Court Bungoma seeking several orders including the need to provide legal aid to children who are in conflict with the law and the need to comply with the provisions of the Children Act in relation to children in conflict with the law. The High Court ordered the lower courts to comply with the provisions of the Act. In another impact litigation case, The CRADLE successfully sought an order from the High Court of Kenya, compelling the courts not to mete out mandatory detention for children facing capital offences. The case involved a 12-year old girl who was charged with the murder of a 2-year old child.
- Self Representation In some instances, parents are trained to represent themselves in court especially over matters that are relatively simple. A manual has been developed in this regard for family law.
- Referrals There is a referral system to other organizations and institutions in relation to matters The CRADLE can not handle such as divorce matters. Referrals are to organizations such as FIDA, ANNPCAN (K), CLAN, COVAW, Kituo Cha Sheria, CREAW etc.
- Fact-Finding Missions and Rescues This process assists in pre-trial preparations through undertaking social investigations, pre-trial preparations including evidence collection, collation and compilation. Where necessary, children are rescued from potentially harmful environments to a place of safety.
- Pro bono Scheme Training: Through this scheme, pro bono lawyers are trained in three phases in collaboration with the United States International University professors (for the 3rd Stage) and training manuals have been developed in relation to the same. The first phase is on public interest lawyering; the second phase is on child rights and involves training on international conventions and national laws on child rights. The third level is on child psychology and the law. The lawyers subsequently offer free legal services to children. So far, over 150 lawyers have been trained. Regional Pro bono Committees: The CRADLE has also established regional pro bono committees in enclaves including Mt. Kenya region, Coast region, Western region, North Rift region, South Rift region, Nairobi region, Eastern region and Nyanza region. The Annual East and Southern Africa Regional Conference: This forum seeks to share and consolidate experiences between the national committees and other lawyers from the region. It has been held for the last four years. For example, the 3rd conference was held on the 3rd December 2005, focusing on the theme ‘Violence and Exploitation Against Children, with a Focus on Trafficking’, paying attention and focus to the just concluded United Nations Study on Violence Against Children. The event was officially opened by the Vice President of Kenya and Minster for Home Affairs Hon. Mr. Moody Awori and officially closed by the Honorable the Attorney General of Kenya. Pparticipants included different organizations including Save the Children, Uganda that presented a paper on “Children’s Voices on Violence against Children in Uganda” ; a member of Parliament from Uganda; Margie de Monchy of UNICEF ESARO; Hon. Mbeo of the East African Legislative Assembly; Uganda HURINET; and National Organization for Legal Assistant (Tanzania), amongst others. The forum also works as the meeting for the Regional African Juvenile Justice Network (RAJJNet) that was formed during the 2003 Regional Conference An Award Scheme and A roll of honor : This was established to honor outstanding pro bono lawyers and committees. It is awarded annually. The award recognizes in particular diligence, commitment to work, consistency and innovation. They awards are under three categories: Gold, Silver and Bronze. Past award winners include Justus Munyidhya from Mombasa, Mrs and Mrs Paschal Mbeche from Nakuru, Anne Kiusya from Machakos and Nishi Pandit from Kisumu. The CRADLE also offers international, regional and national training opportunities for best performing lawyers. The inaugural award winner, Mr. Justus Munyidhya was recommended for and attended the Pro-democracy scholarship offered by the Les Aspin Centre of Governance and Marquette University, Wisconsin, USA. Others have attended conferences in Ethiopia and South Africa on behalf of The CRADLE where they act as goodwill ambassadors. Children’s Voices on Access to Justice : The CRADLE holds 2 children conferences annually. One is primarily for child survivors of abuse and the 2nd is open to children in participating SHALL schools. This is often a conference within the Pro bono conference. The participants get the opportunity to listen to children discuss about their perspectives on different issues under discussion. This is often through an interactive question and answer session with them.
- Judicial Reforms The organization contributes to structural reforms through informal consultations with judicial officers and to comprehensive and strategic reforms through GJLOs and other reform processes.
- Psycho-social Support This is offered through individual and group therapy for children and their parents; home and Institutional Visits to children who are placed by The CRADLE in other institutions such as GOAL (K) and WRAP. Educational support is given in limited cases.
- Mobile Legal Clinics The CRADLE ensures that children access justice through Mobile Clinics especially in areas where access to justice is limited through mobile legal clinics and bazaars.
The primary objective of the program is to:
- Work towards a child-friendly legislative and policy framework;
- Ensure the legislative and policy framework conforms to international standards;
- To enhance access to justice for children;
Under this program, The CRADLE runs the following projects:
Read more: Policy and Legislative Advocacy
Under this program, the CRADLE is currently undertaking the following activities: The Resource Centre,The Gender Parity and Access to Education Study and The UN Study on Violence Against Children
Read more: Research, Monitoring and Documentation
This is an outreach program on child rights that seeks to:
Networking and advocacy runs through all of The CRADLE’s four programs. In addition to hosting the Juvenile Justice Network and the Regional Africa Juvenile Justice Network, The CRADLE is also a member of the following networks:
Read more: Networking, Lobbying and Advocacy