what we do
GENDER AND DISABILITY
A48 addresses matters of intersectionality particular discrimination faced at the intersection of gender, sexuality and disability. Being a woman in the Kenyan traditional society is already a ground for discrimination. Now being a woman with disability is even a larger barrier to access to justice where there are attitudinal, communication, legal and physical barriers.
On March 8 2023, International Womn’s Day, A48 launched the report, Warigia speaks, documenting the experiences of womn and girls with multiple disabling conditions during COVID 19 in Kenya and Uganda. This was used to inform Law and Policy reforms in accessing health through Kenya’s Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Bill and Primary Healthcare Act 2023.
An example of intersectionality is a 17 year old girl wrongfully convicted for 5 years in an adult prison as a child in need of child care and protection. Her file indicated neuro developmental diagnosis with little to no recovery and estimated a teenager. We came across her when providing legal aid in a menstrual health talk. She was released at the Chief Magistrate Court. There being no reintegration plan, there were no follow up on access to education, access to a home, family nor access to training or employment support in the absence of family. There are no records of her therefore no access to registration for national ID, basically she doesn’t exist as a person in Kenya.A48 managed to locate her family and reconnected her to them.
ACCESS TO JUSTICE
A48 defines access to justice as removal of all barriers that can hinder persons with disabilities from seeking redress once an unlawful or wrong act has been done to them. This is one of the most important rights and as such should be available to all citizens of a country regardless of their race, health, status, cultural background, social class and any other distinction whatsoever. The government while making laws and policies that is procedural, administrative and substantive laws should accommodate inclusion of persons with disabilities.
A48 provides training for Court user Committees on reasonable and procedural accommodations for persons with disabilities in the criminal justice system. This is because the criminal justice system tends to be the conduit for denial of liberty on the basis of disability when the court orders for mental assessment reports.
The procedure is the discriminatory tool as it requires court ordered assessments to be carried out through Mathare Maximum Prison irrespective whether the person has committed a crime or not. Equally there are no legal or procedural accommodations provided to persons with disabilities in the criminal justice system. The Legal Aid Act of 2016 Sections 35 and 36 do not recognize persons with disabilities as indigent persons for legal aid purposes.A48 is a member of the Court Users Committee, as the right to liberty for persons with disabilities is highly decentralized across various government agencies: Mathare National Hospital, The Ministry of Health, Council Of Governors, Commissioner Of Prisons, National Police, Ombudsman Office, Directorate Of Public Prosecutions, National Council For Persons with Disabilities, Office of the President, Directorate of Social Services and the Kenyan National Human Rights Commission. The Court Users Committees is headed by the Presiding Judge and has mandate to monitor prisons within its jurisdiction thus make it more effective to address law and policy procedural and administrative concerns to access to justice.
INCLUSION IN THE COMMUNITY
When it comes to inclusion in the community A48 uses Advocacy and litigation to remove economic and social barriers that persons with disabilities face in accessing justice. Research and training is the first step, we focus on training caregivers, support persons, womn with disabilities, to know their rights and provide basic paralegal services before interacting with the justice system. For persons with disabilities in the criminal justice system we provide one on one training and legal aid where necessary.
Celebrating our success, we document every release. This is a reminder that inclusion and acceptance is what persons with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities need. At the moment Presidential pardons are still being processed through the Department of Probation and Aftercare services. The first issue persons with disabilities face when released under presidential pardons are required to be handed over to their families, which is not a requirement for other prisoners without disabilities, therefore if he or she is rejected you cannot be released. Secondly, persons with disabilities are required to be under the care of this department for two years upon release. One of the conditions of release is adherence to medication and monthly reporting to a probation officer assigned and there is no requirement to provide housing employment or money to purchase the medication assigned. Which has led to cases of recidivism as not everyone is able to be integrated back to the community.
HEALTH NEEDS: NEEDS ASSESSMENT NOT MENTAL ASSESSMENT
This refers to the conducting of a mental exam to as ascertain one’s mental capacity and not legal capacity. As A48 we advocate for the separation of the two while pushing for legal reforms in line with Article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The violation of Article 12 of the CPRD is the basis for legal and altitudinal barriers that most persons with disabilities face in accessing justice and denial of reasonable accommodations on the same. Recidivism, relapse and death are issues due to lack of healthcare services for those formally incarcerated thus the need to continue with raising awareness on mental health issues, advocacy and litigation and develop a reintegration and health plan for persons with disabilities released from prison.