How New Legal Training Helps Prosecutors in Kenya Battle Against Criminals & Violent Extremists in Court

Topics: Access to Justice, Government, Leadership, Legal Education, Thomson Reuters


A new article on Thomson Reuters’ Answers On website details how Kenya has become a frequent target of attacks from violent extremists for many reasons and how this ideologically motivated violence in various forms has been an inescapable part of everyday life for many Kenyans.

Among the main reasons for this is that Kenya is allied with the U.S. and Israel in the international fight against violent extremism; and many attacks are a form of retaliation against the establishment, in 2011, of an ongoing military presence in Somalia. Between 2008 and 2015, the Somali-based Al Queda affiliate Al Shabaab perpetrated 272 separate attacks in Kenya, and more than 600 people in Kenya have been killed since 2012, according to the article.

The article also points out that despite the frequent violence, Kenyan authorities have refused to allow insurgents to prevent them from building a strong democracy based on civic values and respect for the rule of law. Indeed, the fighting in Kenya isn’t just about politics and territory—it’s about fundamental principles of society.

New Training for Legal Professionals

As part of this, Thomson Reuters has been helping Africa’s emerging democracies build the foundation for a civil society through its work with the non-profit groups, Lawyers Without Borders and Books For Africa, for the past decade. The company provides Lawyers Without Borders (LWOB) with free printing services for its training materials, as well as resources and facilities to help LWOB create and distribute e-learning modules for educating African lawyers about the principles of effective jurisprudence. And in 2010, Thomson Reuters and Books For Africa joined forces to create the Jack Mason Law & Democracy Initiative, an ambitious program that provides up to 10 complete law libraries a year to African law schools, courts, bar associations, and other legal organizations.

You can hear a special podcast featuring Sharon Sayles-Belton, vice president of government affairs at Thomson Reuters, discussing with Peter Vincent how he became engaged in this effort, why this work is so vital to this region, and what the future holds for programs like Books for Africa and Lawyers without Borders in Kenya and beyond.

One of Kenya’s biggest challenges, however, has been marshaling the resources necessary to effectively prosecute the perpetrators of deadly violence in its courts, the article reports. Overwhelmed jurists, scant resources, corruption, and ongoing violence all combine to make it difficult for legal professionals in Kenya to do their jobs, so even if suspects are arrested, trying and convicting them can be difficult.

In an effort to help Kenyan lawyers and law-enforcement officials prosecute these challenging cases, Thomson Reuters Special Services (TRSS) — a division that works with governments around the world — was recently invited to work with Lawyers Without Borders to help train Kenyan legal professionals in the delicate art of investigating, assembling, and prosecuting successful cases against those who commit acts of violent social disruption within its borders. Twice in 2018, former-TRSS General Counsel Peter Vincent has been to Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi, to conduct training sessions for the Kenyan School of Government under the auspices of an LWOB grant. The training is designed to teach Kenyan prosecutors how to teach themselves, says Vincent, and in the future will be woven into the school’s curriculum.

“A core of about 30 prosecutors has already been trained and certified,” says Vincent. “This core of certified counter-terrorism trainers will make up the faculty at the Kenyan School of Government, where all new and less experienced prosecutors will receive similar training as part of their general prosecutorial education.”

You can read the full article on Thomson Reuters’ Answers On website.