More than 40 chiefs from six Nakuru sub-counties have benefited from legal aid training.
The administrators were drawn from Nakuru West, Subukia, Naivasha, Molo, Bahati and Rongai.
“The main objective of the training is to impact skills to the chiefs to enable them mitigate in human rights cases, gender-based violence, and resolve other family problems amicably within their jurisdictions,” said Dr Ruth Aura on Wednesday.
Dr Aura, who is also the Egerton University Dean of the Faculty of Law, said the project seeks to strengthen the justice system among the administrators.
“Some of the residents, due to poverty, are unable to access justice but, once we empower the chiefs with legal aid knowledge, they will help bridge the justice gap at the grassroots,” said Dr Aura.
She said such courses are critical since Kenya is evaluated on its response to the needs of its citizens at international forums.
“The chiefs have an important role to play in ensuring the poor are not marginalised and blocked from accessing justice and that is why we are giving them legal training,” said Dr Aura.
Dr Aura said the university is committed to taking the law to the people. She said high fees charged by lawyers has made legal services inaccessible by the poor.
“Some of the issues affecting the residents could be resolved through alternative dispute resolution approaches, that is why we are partnering with chiefs who are always in touch with the people,” said Dr Aura.
Ms Valerie Kutima, a law lecturer at the university, said that with legal aid skills, chiefs will be able to tackle some of the problems without going to court.
“Many residents will access justice as chiefs will use their barazas to disseminate information relating to legal matters such as succession, land disputes and gender-based violence among other challenges,” said Ms Kutima.
Nakuru County Administrative Officer Mary Mwangi urged the chiefs to make good use of the training as it will enhance their skills to deal with daily legal issues in their locations.
During the training, held at a Nakuru hotel on Wednesday, the chiefs narrated some of the challenges they face in the course of their duties.
They cited insecurity, lack of powers to arrest drug peddlers, and proliferation of illicit brews.
“Chiefs are killed while others injured in the line of duty but nobody speaks about these attacks. We are human beings and our rights should be respected and protected,” said a chief from Elburgon.
The exercise was sponsored by Egerton University, Amkeni Wakenya and the United Nations Development Programme.