Judiciary menace is tainting image of Kenya's reform process
24 October 2013, 11:56
Many decisions made of late have been based on the fact that Kenya is on a reform agenda. With the promulgation of a new constitution the country is being viewed as a destination for investors as well as non-governmental organizations that wish to set up presence in the East African region.
Since 2010, the country has made great strides like appointing of new heads of the judiciary, vetting of many senior state officers and punishing corrupt acts vehemently. The icing on the cake was the election of two senior principles into office in a peaceful manner. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back as investors have now set sights on Kenya unconditionally save for the minor terror attacks that force periodic travel advisories.
However, for a society to be conducive for investment, there must exist a sound legal structure that is free from corruption, impunity and inequality. This was going well until the squabbles begun between the chief registrar and the top governing body; the Judicial Service Commission. The two camps have been at it ever since the first chief registrar of the judiciary was sent on compulsory leave pending alleged misconduct and improper financial dealings.
Recently, the judiciary has been marred with controversy over its committed fight against graft and the battle seems to be spilling over. Kenya is now in the process of assuring the whole world that its justice system is reformed or at least is in the process of reforming, and chaotic scenes such as those currently being witnessed are surely straining our efforts of rehabilitating our legal system.
The country is embarking on efforts to have the two key principles; President Kenyatta and Deputy President Ruto to have their cases deferred or referred. Frantic efforts have been made in luring the UN Security Council to pass a decision to have the cases of the two, alongside radio journalist Sang’s cases, brought back home. These numerous efforts and calls might just be null considering what is happening currently. UN Security Council will obviously base its decision on the security situation and ability of the judiciary to handle the cases in an efficient and effective manner.
After the presidential elections, a petition was lodged at the Supreme Court which serves as the senior most court of the country. The decision the bench arrived at did not go well with some members of the public and this punctured the inflated trust that the public had in the judiciary. However, with the expedition of cases, the public soon regained its trust in the once highly rotten department. Efforts to restore public confidence are at stake as the current melee being witnessed is tainting the image of the JSC as well as the whole judiciary.
Chief Judge, Willy Mutunga, was among the most preferred candidates for the post of president of the judiciary as well as head judge. Madam Gladys Shollei and the JSC commissioners were also highly preferred to head the judiciary in its quest to reform the department. Nevertheless, the preference is dying out slowly as the dirty linen continuously spills onto the visual line of the public. Currently, the black cloud hovering over the JSC and the former registrar of the judiciary is slowly building into dissatisfaction in the operations and transparency of the legal system. The ethics and integrity of the senior officers also hangs in the balance.
Looking at what is at stake, someone or somebody needs to intervene and clear the air before it becomes excessively foul. It is obvious that there is some heavy information that is being withheld with the notion that the judiciary is independent. Of course the judiciary is independent but the limits of this independence are slowly being breached.
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