Three western diplomats have backed the Judiciary in calls for President Uhuru Kenyatta to expedite the appointment of 41 judges proposed by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).
In an op-ed, US ambassador Kyle McCarter, British High Commissioner Jane Marriot and their European Union counterpart Simon Mordue said that there is need for the Head of State to appoint the judges to vacant positions as part of efforts to better the country’s justice system.
“Resolve the delay in the appointment of judges to vacant positions. Where there are substantial allegations of corruption, these should be swiftly and transparently addressed, while not delaying the appointment of other judges, ” the diplomats said in a message to mark World Day for International Justice.
“On this International Justice Day, we reaffirm our commitment to supporting Kenya’s justice system. Your recent election to the United Nations Security Council is an opportunity for us all to strengthen a just, rules-based international system.”
On June 8, Chief Justice David Maraga called out President Kenyatta over what he termed as refusal to swear in the 41 judges as proposed by the JSC in 2019.
Addressing reporters, the president of the apex court revealed that the head of state has disobeyed two court ordered requiring him to swear in judges in 14 days a move he said had frustrated the Judiciary’s delivery.
For instance, the president of the judiciary said, a land case filed at Milimani courts today will be heard earliest in 2 years.
“If you file a land case in the environment and land court at Milimani in Nairobi today, the earliest your case will be heard is in 2022. The Court of Appeal has only 15 Judges serving the republic with a case load of 7,315 as at 31st March 2020,” he stated.
Maraga said that efforts to resolve the issue amicably with the head of state had proved futile as the president had refused to meet him.
A day after Maraga’s rant, Attorney General Kihara Kariuki lashed out at the CJ saying the president will not be pushed to appoint judges with questionable conduct.
The envoys said that to better the country’s justice system, there is need for the Executive and the Judiciary to work together, independently but cooperatively saying “Dialogue is essential”.
The three called on the government to strengthen collaboration among all agencies that work across criminal justice so cases flow efficiently.
“Conducting trials on a day-to-day basis would also greatly speed case resolution and better serve all stakeholders in a case, including witnesses, ” they said.
They also called on the President to “continue and deepen reforms in the National Police Service to strengthen professionalism, capability and accountability”.