In 2007, the Government of Kenya, through the defunct Ministry of Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs, now the Department of Justice in the Office of the Attorney General established the National Legal Aid and Awareness Programme (NALEAP).
The main aim of setting up NALEAP was to create awareness with the Kenyan public about legal aid; and provide legal advice and representation mainly to the poor, marginalised and vulnerable in the Kenyan society.
Legal aid is a human rights issue, and the goal of NALEAP was to create a practical, affordable and effective legal awareness and legal aid service delivery scheme that would increases access to justice for all.
The NALEAP programme facilitated the development of the draft Legal Aid Bill, which was later enacted into law as the Legal Aid Act, 2016 thereby laying the foundation for the establishment of a structured and sustainable National Legal Aid Service in Kenya with the mandate of mainstreaming the provision of legal aid services in Kenya.
The Legal Aid Act, 2016 envisages the provision of services including but not limited to:
- Legal education, legal aid, advice and litigation to children in conflict with the law and those in contact with the law either as witnesses or victims;
- Training in self representation to capital offenders, especially those accused of Robbery with Violence;
- Mediation and counseling in Family matters;
- Alternative Dispute Resolution, with an emphasis on mediation. (In this, the Service also trains elders on mediation).
Section 5 of the Legal Aid Act 2016 establishes the National Legal Aid Service with the mandate to:
- Provide legal aid services to indigent, marginalized, and vulnerable persons;
- Establish a legal aid scheme to assist the indigent to access legal aid;
- Promote legal literacy and legal awareness;
- Support community legal services by funding justice advisory centers, education, and research; and
- Promote the use of alternative dispute resolution methods that enhance access to justice.