Thursday, Dec 18th 2014

I will abolish death penalty, Omamo tells DCJ interview

Wednesday, February 20, 2013 - 00:00 -- BY JILLO KADIDA

THE second day of interviews for the Deputy Chief Justice raised the thorny issue of whether the death penalty should be abolished. Lawyer Rachel Omamo said she will seek to remove the death penalty if she becomes Deputy CJ and a Supreme Court judge.

She said that the Supreme Court to be innovative in dealing with the policy and moral issues around the death penalty.

Omamo, a lawyer for the last 27 years, believes that the constitution should be interpreted in a pragmatic manner rather than allowing the wording to strictly dominate her decision making.

She believes in the right to life so she would rule in favor of abolition of death penalty. She was asked by Attorney-General Githu Muigai on what legal basis would she peg her decision to abolish death penalty.

“The duty of court is to uphold the bill of rights. Interpret the law in a way that furthers bill of rights and one of the most important right is right to life and taking it through statute is not furthering the bill of rights,” replied Omamo.

She emphasized the need for the Supreme Court to dialogue with the grassroots level to gauge where to go on questions such as abortion, the death penalty and homosexuals.

In her view the court should participate in judicial activism insofar as it leads to human development. “If you are being an activist who lifts the down trodden to access justice, you are doing something worthwhile,” she said.

Omamo has served as an ambassador for Kenya to Portugal and France. She described herself as a natural thinker who act as a catalyst for deeper intellectual thinking at the Supreme Court.

Omamo is among five candidates shortlisted for deputy CJ. The other four are Appeal Judge Kalpana Rawal and lawyers Joyce Miguda Majiwa, Lucy Muthoni Kambuni and Okawa Phoebe Nyawade. A total of 13 applied for the job, including eight High Court and Appeal judges.

The position became vacant after a tribunal recommended that Nancy Baraza leaves judiciary for gross misconduct. The former Deputy CJ threatened a security guard with a gun on December 31, 2011.