Osgoode students travel to Kenya to research judicial education

Four students from York’s Osgoode Hall Law School have returned to Canada following a trip to Kenya to research judicial education there. 

Through an agreement between Osgoode’s International Legal Partnership and the Judiciary of the Republic of Kenya, the four students went to research policy options toward the establishment of a National Judicial Institute. The four students, Nikhil Handa, Catherine Nowak, Marty Venalainen and Muneeb Yusuf, will compile a report that will be presented to the Registrar of Kenya’s High Court later this year. The report will contain a number of recommendations for the institute regarding the governance structure, curriculum, functions and course delivery.


 Above: Dola Indidis, Kenyan high court public relations officer (left);
 Muneeb Yusuf;  Marty Venalainen; C.K. Njai, registrar of the Kenyan
 high court;  Catherine Nowak; and Nikhil Handa 

The International Legal Partnership (ILP) is a student-cooperative organization based at Osgoode Hall Law School. Its mission is to provide legal research assistance to developing countries. This summer’s trip to Kenya represented ILP’s inaugural project. ILP is now entering its second year. Its honorary patrons include Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former Ontario premier Bob Rae.

Prior to their departure, the students performed a comprehensive analysis of judicial education models from around the world. They took part in an intensive orientation program that emphasized team building and sensitization training on working in a developing country. The team met with members of Canada’s judiciary including Justice Robert Sharpe of the Ontario Court of Appeal, who had travelled to Kenya on a related mission in 2002. They also met with Kenya’s high commissioner to Canada, who was instrumental in establishing the project.

During their six weeks in Kenya, the four Osgoode students surveyed judicial officers and travelled to three cities to conduct over 40 interviews. Working closely with the registrar of the high court, they met with judicial officers, including a third of Kenya’s appellate judges. They also observed court proceedings at all levels. Working closely with the University of Nairobi’s Faculty of Law, the students met with various professors to learn more about Kenyan legal and judicial education. They also met with civil society organizations including the International Commission of Jurists (Kenyan Section) to gain a deeper understanding of the judiciary’s impact on various societal groups. Meetings with representatives of governmental and non-governmental agencies yielded information on what resources might be available to support an Institute.

The students will be giving a presentation about the work to ILP members and the Osgoode community. More information will be posted to the ILP Web site as it becomes available.