In order to fulfil its mandate, the taskforce adopted an unconventional framework relying on several methods captured below:
- Identification and mapping of AJS actors: The Task force aimed to document as much as information as possible on the prevalence and workings of AJS in Kenya. This also included a comparative study of AJS systems in other jurisdictions to draw best practices from the challenges and successes noted in those contexts. Ultimately this information shall be contained in a repository that shall be publicly accessible and disseminated as widely as possible. In this respect the workings of the Taskforce were supported by the JTI which has offered financial and other resources to the Taskforce. The Strathmore University also offered additional support through the provision of a rapporteur who has documented and prepared reports for all convenings.
- Capacity building workshops/testing TORs: The Taskforce held a series of workshops across the country where they tested their interpretation of the ToRs. The aim of these workshops was to ensure that the methodology and work plans adopted by the Taskforce are in line with what the general public perceives such function to be.
- Development of curriculum questions: Based on the ToRs and the outcomes from the capacity building workshops around the same, the taskforce developed a set of curriculum questions that guided a series of cross-country meetings. The objective of these meetings was to map the various AJS typologies and gain a deeper understanding of the need for such a system. These questions are the basis on which the policy issues enumerated below are founded.
- Analysis of constitutionality of AJS: The taskforce also adopted a research component to their methodology and undertook a mapping exercise of the various justice mechanisms across the country. The constitutionality thereof was assessed to respond to the Constitutional imperative to ensure the accessibility of justice, within the context of judicial function.
- Specialized convenings e.g CSO and academics: The taskforce conducted a series of convenings with different stakeholders and practitioners in AJS in order to map out and understand the main actors in the area and to further understand how these systems function on the ground. These convenings have taken several forms including brainstorming conferences involving amongst others the judiciary, civil society members, academics, elders, Court User Committees members and members of the provincial administration. One of the main aims of these convenings was to generate more knowledge on AJS. To this end curriculum questions were developed to guide the various dialogues and guide the discussions on AJS and how to mainstream these systems within the formal justice space. Thus far there are still a number of specialized convenings that are outstanding including the convenings with, The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Constitutional Commissions and Independent Constitutional Offices, Judicial officers – judges and magistrates, The Ministry of interior, the police service, chiefs and elders, The Ministry of Finance, The Department of Justice, The Council of Governors and County Attorneys, The Law Society of Kenya and The Media. Responsibility for these convenings has been allocated to the various taskforce members. The challenge in this respect remains with the funding of such initiatives, as the taskforce does not have an allocated budget to carry out these activities.
- Visiting learning areas including urban formations: the taskforce also visiting several learning areas to develop a deeper understanding of how justice is accessed in Kenya outside of the court room space and processes. This included visiting various urban formations, alongside the country wide field visit, to understand these typologies and how they may fit within the broader AJS umbrella.
- Interacting with court annexed pilots: The taskforce through the JTI also engaged in several capacity building workshops for court stations that wanted to commence Court Annexed AJS Pilots. The aim of these workshops was to enhancing the capacity of the CUC members and other stakeholders in designing a workable court annexed AJS. These workshops were consultative and practical and aimed to inculcate a sense of ownership in these court-annexed pilots.
- Facilitating second generation pilots: The judiciary instituted court annexed pilots which divert certain matters for resolution through negotiation, which may be formal or informal. These pilots were documented, with the best practices drawn from the successes and challenges of these pilots. Based on the lessons learned, there are second generation pilots that are to be established which will ideally reduce the case-backlog in the courts and a state recognized alternative dispute resolution forum.
- Piloting and Benchmarking: This entailed the benchmarking of various national, county and International practices of traditional and “informal” justice systems. Activities under this included the “adoption” of several court-annexed AJS Pilots, which have been observed over time with final outcomes and results to be documented and included in the repository referenced above. It is hoped that these already functional court-annexed pilots will give a glimpse into how AJS might ultimately be mainstreamed within the justice system.
- Elders Exchanges: In a bid to expose the different actors involved in alternative justice systems to the different models and typologies of AJS, a series of exchange visits were organized with the support of the JTI. Though these exchanges, it was hoped that there would be a cross fertilization of ideas which would help forge models that are responsive to human rights considerations.
It is hoped that through these overlapping activities a National Model or models of AJS would be used across the country as a way of improving access to justice. This would also go some way in bridging the gap between the current (formal) justice systems in line with the lived realities of most Kenyans. It is accepted that these formal and state-sanctioned procedures and institutions are only one aspect of the complex landscape of access to justice. Most Kenyans resort to AJS to resolve their everyday problems, recognizing and mainstreaming AJS is an effective and realistic way to ensure that the legal system is in line with the lived realities of the people.