by Shikuku Obosi, Inclusion International’s Regional Coordinator for Africa
The Open Society Foundations (OSF) through its Eastern Africa (OSIEA) and Human Rights Initiative convened a two-day workshop at the Panafric Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya on 4th and 5th November 2014.
The convening was the beginning of a process to identify OSF’s partners that are interesting in shifting from baseline surveys and citing of challenges to advocating for and establishing interventions toward achieving access to justice for disabled people. The convening also served to link Bizchut, the Israel Human Rights Center for Persons with Disabilities, with the contexts and potential OSF partners in East Africa toward establishing strategic interventions, including developing tools and strategies to improve organizations’ recording of cases, increasing reporting of cases to the police, or creating supports or accommodations to facilitate participation of persons with disabilities during investigation and trial.
Participants included over twenty activists and lawyers from five organizations working on access to justice in East Africa, including representatives of Inclusion Africa’s national member organizations from Kenya and Zanzibar, and Inclusion Africa’s Coordinator Shikuku Obosi.
At this meeting, each participating organization in East Africa narrated specific cases they had received or handled, key systematic or procedural hurdles they had encountered, and the status of each case. From these narrations and other areas identified for discussion, there was a facilitated conversation on the major challenges that disabled people, especially those with intellectual disabilities, face in the justice system with the aim of generating strategies of how organizations can best address these challenges.
Following the meeting, OSF will identify partners from among the participants to develop a two-year project to address barriers that persons with intellectual disabilities face in accessing justice.