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Chief Justice pledges commitment to environment

25 June 2014, 10:20

Nairobi - Chief Justice Willy Mutunga said the country was committed to environmental conservation as demonstrated by the fairly progressive national environmental laws and a steady stream of robust pronouncements from the courts.

Mutunga said that the right to a clean and healthy environment was now entrenched in the Bill of Rights.

“Chapter 5 of the Constitution is dedicated to the protection and sustainable management of the environment and natural resources. It details the obligations of every person and the State relating to the environment. The Constitution has very enabling provisions on the standing one needs to bring suits in environmental matters,” he said.

The Chief Justice was speaking on the occasion of the inaugural session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) in Nairobi.

Mutunga told the assembly that in terms of enforcement, the Constitution established Environment and Land Courts to deal with disputes relating to the environment and land use.

“There are currently 16 Land and Environment Courts in the country that are presided over by competitively recruited judges, and the goal is to have at least one such court in each of the 47 counties in the country,” he said.

Mutunga went on to highlight some of the challenges faced in the implementation and enforcement of the environment laws in Kenya.

The first challenge is that of developing and implementing appropriate responses to the growing sophistication of environmental The second challenge, he said, is that there was a dearth of environmental cases being litigated in Kenyan courts despite mechanisms put in place to ease court processes, and the establishment of specialized courts.

“There is a need to train and expose all the institutions and officials responsible for addressing justice, governance and law issues to environmental laws and their enforcement as well as compliance mechanisms,” said Mutunga.

 – CAJ News

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