Judges and Magistrates call upon President Kenyatta to appoint judges to clear case backlog

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From R-L: KMJA Vice SG Hon . Mukhtar Salat, KMJA Chair Justice Jacqueline Kamau, KMJA SG Derrick Kuto, VP Hon Everlyn Olwande, (behind) KMJA treasure Hon Ben Mark Ekhubi and Vice treasure Hon. Charles Ondieki during a press conference at Milimani Law Courts

The Kenya Magistrates and Judges Association has called upon President Uhuru Kenyatta to appoint the nominated judges to help clear case backlog.

Led by the association’s Secretary General Derrick Kuto, KMJA said that one of the pillars for Sustaining Judiciary Transformation (SJT) blue print is “action on case backlog.

“Despite their small numbers, judges and magistrates have been burning both ends of the candle to reduce case backlog, ” said Kuto.

This, he added has the net effect of slowing down the administration of justice.

KMJA noted that unlike in the old constitution, Article 172 of the new Constitution changed the framework of appointment of judges by removing the direct power of appointment from the President to an Independent State Organ being the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).

The association stated that JSC advertised, short listed and interviewed applicants for various positions which upon selection, their named were forwarded to the President.

“Regrettably four months down the road, the President is yet to appoint the nominees,” Kuto noted.

KMJA president Hon Jacqueline Kamau said that this delay is affecting Wanjuku and not the judges and magistrates.

“Apart from the delay, Wanjiku does not understand why there is delay, they will blame the judiciary,” Kamau added.

Kamau also noted that there is no time limit in the constitution for the President to appoint the judges but is expected that after the nomination they be appointed.

She however said that she could not comment on an affidavit by the Chief Registrar of the Judiciary Ann Amadi stating that President Kenyatta has issues with some of the judges that is why there is a delay.

Noting that JSC is the only Commission where the executive is represented, the SG said that it nominated 41 members for appointment by the President, 11 to the court of appeal while 30 to the Environment and Lands Court and Employment and Labour Relations.

The executive participated in the process since it was represented.

Kuto added that statistics show that there are about 400,000 cases of being filed per year against the diminishing number of judges and magistrates.

“By way of example, countries like England and Wales with a popular of 58 million has 3,210 judged and 22,000 Lay Magistrates which explains why case completion period is shorter while Kenya has less than 700 of them,” he added.

The association called upon the President to stay true to his oath of office by appointing the judges.