CJ MARAGA BRIEFED

Judges worried as staffer gets Covid-19 at Milimani

Senior official in the Family Court tested positive for the virus but courts were not shut down.

In Summary
  • Judges made a resolution to conduct of mass testing and the courts to be closed for two weeks.
  • However, despite sending the communication to the CJ on Monday nothing had been done by Tuesday.
Milimani law court
Milimani law court
Image: FILE

Judges at Milimani are worried after an officer tested positive for coronavirus on Monday but the Judiciary is yet to shut down the courts.

A source who did not want to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter on Tuesday informed the Star that after a senior staffer at Milimani's family division court tested positive judges called an urgent meeting.

The judges then resolved to conduct mass testing and the courts to be closed for two weeks. The resolution was sent to Chief Justice David Maraga.

 
 
 
 

However, despite sending the communication to the CJ on Monday nothing had been done by Tuesday and the staff were worried. 

The Star failed to reach Judiciary registrar Anne Amadi for a comment on the situation.

A report by the Health ministry seen by the Star in June declared some courtrooms in Milimani  unsafe.

The report is categorical that some courtrooms should not be used at all in their current status, until their natural lighting and ventilation is adequately provided for.

For example, courtroom number 7, together with the children prosecution registry, are not appropriate to serve because of both size and ventilation.

“The court management is encouraged to come up with comprehensive structural maintenance works to specifically address the serious natural lighting deficits in all courtrooms,” the health officials said.

The courts generally are in a dilapidated state, with some having leaking roofs and others broken doors.

 

For example, courtroom number 19, though adequately ventilated, had pools of rainwater on the floor, defective roof and its ceiling was sagging during the inspection time.

 
 
 

“Increase the size of openable window space at police prosecution registry to allow adequate flow of fresh air into the room to not only reduce the risk of Covid-19 but also other respiratory communicable infections such as tuberculosis,” the report reads in part.

The report discourages the use of magistrates' and judges’ chambers for court proceedings because of inadequacy in size and ventilation.

Customers visiting the courts should be screened so only those who must enter the building are allowed access, it says.

Also recommended is rearrangement of court registries, offices to accommodate the specific number of people specified during inspection and in a pattern that was agreed upon. Some courtrooms, the officers said, can accommodate 12 people, while  others can only accommodate three.

The Judiciary is expected to maintain a daily register of people who access each courtroom, office and registry. This is for ease of contact tracing in the event one tests positive in court.

Court leadership was advised to embrace modern technology of conducting court proceedings through Skype, Zoom or video conferencing during this period of Covid-19 and in the future.

A week ago, three staffers at Makadara court tested positive, forcing the Judiciary to close it for two weeks.

Chief Registrar Anne Amadi  directed magistrates and staff to proceed on self-quarantine.

During the break, the premises will be disinfected as the staff seek medical attention.

The Milimani law courts were shut down last Thursday and Friday for fumigation.

The Mombasa courts had been shut down due to Covid-19 cases but resumed operation last week.

In March, the CJ ordered a scale-down of court activities for two weeks to contain the coronavirus spread.  

He also suspended workshops, conferences and foreign travel for justice officers except in very critical cases.

However, lawyers demanded that courts resume sittings to ensure the administration of justice is not hampered.

Court sessions resumed last month with strict preventive measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19. 

Edited by Henry Makori