MORE HOUSES OF JUSTICE

CJ Koome wants a high court station in every county

Encouraged counties to invest in dispute resolution centres to facilitate determination of cases through alternative means.

In Summary

• Koome says this will ensure continued social transformation through access to justice.

• Expresses concerns that the public in some counties had to trek for hundred of kilometres to access the courts.

Chief Justice Martha Koome addresses the Council of Governors in Nairobi on July 19, 2021
Chief Justice Martha Koome addresses the Council of Governors in Nairobi on July 19, 2021
Image: COURTESY

Chief Justice Martha Koome wants the seven remaining counties to get High Court stations to enhance access to justice.

Koome on Monday said this will ensure continued social transformation through access to justice.

The seven counties are Mandera, Wajir, Lamu, Samburu, Nyandarua, Nandi and Elgeyo Marakwet and are ready to give land for the construction of the court buildings.

Koome expressed concerns that the public in some counties had to trek for hundreds of kilometres to access the courts.

She said the Judiciary has been undertaking reforms to improve institutional organisation and delivery of services in the last 10 years.

“These reforms consist of the introduction of active case management, mediation programmes, improved courtroom information technology, public awareness campaigns and continuing judicial education.

"My intention is to further empower the doorways of justice with support from connected stakeholders,” Koome said during a meeting with the Council of Governors led by chairman Martin Wambora.

Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi, however, proposed that the counties lease buildings for courtrooms, as construction is expensive.

Why don’t you lease? You don’t have to own land, and can pay rent.” Kiraitu suggested.

In 2019, former Chief Justice David Maraga announced that the Judiciary intended to have a High Court in every county to reduce the backlog of cases.

However, that was meant to only happen if the Judiciary is financed to hire more judges and magistrates.

Maraga had also said every subcounty would have a magistrate court. 

Council of Governors chairman Martin Wambora and Chief Justice Martha Koome during a meeting in Nairobi on July 19, 2021
Council of Governors chairman Martin Wambora and Chief Justice Martha Koome during a meeting in Nairobi on July 19, 2021
Image: COURTESY

Koome encouraged counties to invest in dispute resolution centres to facilitate the determination of cases through alternative means.

She also called for the establishment of child protection centres to protect the rights of the vulnerable.

The CJ noted that the county governments are essential pillars of equality, inclusion, participation, deliberative governance, accountability, diversity, unity and transformative social governance.

Article 174 of the Constitution enlivens the objects of devolution, which, if powered by a culture of collaboration as instructed by Article 6, becomes a powerful tool for social change and progression,” she said.

In addition, Koome said justice was a shared responsibility that is strengthened by Article 6 of the Constitution, which provides for devolution and access to services in the country. 

It commands that government entities in the national and county governments must conduct their mutual relations based on consultation and cooperation,” she said.

Together with the governors, Koome discussed appropriation and court fees emanating from county legislation, construction of courts and the role of counties in the Court Users Committees.

Koome proposed that counties should act as secretaries of the CUCs.

In attendance were governors James Ongwae (Kisi governor and CoG deputy chairman) and Francis Kimemia (Nyandarua),  Chief Judiciary Registrar Anne Amadi and CoG acting chief executive Mary Mwiti.