BY MWAKERA MWAJEFA
More than 150 judges will from today (August 19) converge in Mombasa County for their annual conference to discuss a range of issues ranging from judicial accountability to its independence.
Chief Justice David Maraga will officially open the colloquium themed, ‘Balancing Judicial Independence and Accountability’ at the Sarova Whitesands hotel.
The four-day conference will be attended by judges of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, High Court, Environment and Land Court as well as the Employment and Labour Relations Court.
Some of the topics slated for discussions are balancing the scales of justice, judicial independence, accountability and integrity in the changing face of Kenya, global warming and climate change, emerging jurisprudence and a critique of the judicial approach on sexual offences and the age of consent among others.
Apart from this, the judges will also be exposed to the changing character of judicial review jurisdiction under the Constitution of Kenya 2010, the remedy of reinstatement, the balancing and competing interests and emerging jurisprudence, and the jurisdictional question relating to charges and mortgages among other topics.
Those expected to give keynote addresses are Dr Fred Ojiambo and Prof Albert Mumma will share experiences on administration justice in the country.
The judges will interact with the Ministry of East African Community and Regional Development principal secretary and the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) governor, Kenya Revenue Authority commissioner-general as well as from the leadership of the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) and the Kenya Human Rights Commission among other stakeholders.
Meanwhile, the CJ has raised concern over the rising defilement cases and wants religious leaders and village elders to intervene through mentoring the young people to stop the vice in the country.
He said that in the many prisons he had visited throughout the country the number of young people serving time for defilement or awaiting trial was far too many pointing at a serious problem that society must address.
Speaking in Nyamira County during the official opening of the new law courts building on August 16, 2019, Justice Maraga said an inordinately high number of cases heard at the station (86 per cent) were criminal with only 14 per cent being civil matters.
According to him the criminal matters revolve around violence emanating from land disputes and defilement.
“We are actively encouraging disagreeing parties to use Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms as much as possible instead of taking the law into their hands or always resorting to the courts,” he said.
He added that through the ADR involved parties could talk things over guided by people who know the issues at hand better than the courts and seek a solution that was mutually acceptable to all.
Local leaders requested the Chief Justice to deploy an Environment and Land Court (ELC) judge in Nyamira to deal with the large number of land matters, to which he agreed and said he will post one from the recently-recruited ELC judges to the station.
The CJ said mediation would also be entrenched at the Nyamira law courts to help deal with succession matters expeditiously.
He praised the World Bank for supporting the constructing the new court through the Judicial Performance Improvement Project (JPIP).
Like all the new courts being built, the Nyamira facility provides a room for lactating mothers, therefore complying with the Health Act 2017, Section 71 which requires facilities such as these to have stations where lactating mothers can feed their babies. The Judiciary has incorporated lactation facilities in 29 stations so far.
COURT OF APPEAL
Law Society of Kenya Nyamira chair Momanyi Ounga urged the Judiciary to put up a court in Manga and Nyasiongo, and a Court of Appeal circuit in Kisii.
The CJ said the Judiciary uses statistics to determine where to prioritise construction of new courts.
However, he set up a team to evaluate whether Manga and other suggested locations deserved a court station.
Nyamira Governor John Nyagarama thanked the Judiciary for taking justice closer to the people saying that increasing the number of courts will translate to justice for all. Nyamira High Court presiding Judge, Justice Esther Maina urged members of the public to embrace mediation while the Nyamira County Commissioner Amos Mariba, said the new court will reduce the distance covered while transporting prisoners.