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October 17, 2017

Respect rule of law, KNCHR and Gender commissioners tell UhuRuto

Kenya National Commission on Human RIghts vice chairman George Morara and National Gender Equality Commission chairman Winnie Lichuma addressing media at KNCHR offices in Nairobi on July 10, 2017. /JOSEPH NDUNDA
Kenya National Commission on Human RIghts vice chairman George Morara and National Gender Equality Commission chairman Winnie Lichuma addressing media at KNCHR offices in Nairobi on July 10, 2017. /JOSEPH NDUNDA

President Uhuru Kenyatta and DP William Ruto's attacks on the Judiciary continued to draw sharp reactions from constitutional bodies on Monday.

Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and National Gender and Equality Commission faulted the leaders over the attacks which they said threatens the independence of the judiciary.

KNCHR vice-chair George Morara and NGEC counterpart Winfred Lichuma said they are concerned by utterances made by the two during a political rally in Baringo on Sunday.

They said that the latest spat by the executive directed at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission should also end.

The experts said the executive seems to have forgotten that aggrieved parties have the right to approach the court and seek redress.

Uhuru and Ruto warned the judiciary, particularly Chief Justice David Maranga, against making decisions that may jeopardise the August 8 elections.

The claim has been read as a hint that the judiciary is working in cahoots with the opposition coalition NASA.

Morara said similar utterances have also been raised by the Principals of the opposition coalition, NASA.

A three-judge bench comprising Justices George Odunga, Joel Ngugi and John Mativo on Friday stopped the printing of presidential ballot papers by Al Ghurair.

The court further ordered the IEBC to start afresh, the process of procuring the ballot papers.

Morara said the courts, in granting the orders on the ballot printing tender, are well within the framework of the law.

The commissions said that the role of the courts as impartial arbiters of disputes, interpreters of the law and defenders of the constitution require that they be completely separate in authority and function.

"The remarks by the political actors have threatened the decisions that the Judiciary made concerning the printing of ballot papers as well as the decision by the IEBC to challenge the said decision at the Court of Appeal, fall below the letter and spirit of the Constitution of Kenya," Morara said.

"As commissions, we view these utterances as veiled threats to the Judiciary and the IEBC whose effect is nothing but the emergence of excesses of Kenya’s political class."

Lichuma said political actors must be aware that the Judiciary, constitutional commissions and independent offices are no longer appendages of the State or powerful political interests.

She said the constitution has laid down elaborate mechanisms to guarantee the independence of the judiciary and the independent of Commissions in the execution of their mandates and there is a more reformed judiciary that is independent, robust and functional.


"It is, therefore, harmful to see anyone going out of his or her way to threaten the principle of separation of powers as espoused in our Constitution. The political class must respect the independent action by our courts of law as well as officials who hold constitutional offices such as the IEBC," Lichuma said.

She went on: "This, therefore, means that the executive authority must defer to the sovereignty of the people and respond to the national values and accountability mechanisms throughout the constitution. It should not be lost that under the constitution, all Kenyans including the political class must respect the rule of law".

The NGEC boss said the judicial independence must not suffer from the excesses of the political class and pressure must not be exerted on the Judiciary or in the independence of IEBC.



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