JSC interviews re-ignite debate on mercy killing

Debate on whether to allow terminally ill persons to take away their lives dominated interviews for three judges and a law scholar seeking to join the Court of Appeal.

High Court judges Hedwig Ong’udi, Hellen Omondi, Joseph Sergon and Prof Nickson Sifuna had varying opinions on whether they would allow euthanasia or mercy killing, for a bedridden, terminally ill person given the precedence set by some countries.

Justice Ong’udi and Justice Omondi said they respected the constitutional right to life and would not allow mercy killing while Justice Sergon said euthanasia needed more examination.

Past decisions

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“I know euthanasia is not permitted by law in Kenya but my view is that the debate should be subjected to litigation,” said Sergon.

A number of countries have legalised euthanasia for terminally ill patients.

The judges also faced questions on their past decisions, with Sergon denying claims he mishandled a defamation case against anti-corruption crusader John Githongo filed by former minister Chris Murungaru.

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The judge said he was fair in his decision to award Murungaru Sh27 million after considering all evidence and listening to both sides.

Lady Justice Ong’udi defended her work at the Anti-Corruption Division, stating that corruption cases are not easily won because investigating agencies present weak evidence.

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Lady Justice Omondi defended her decisions on inheritance, saying the gender of a person should not be a consideration when dividing parents’ properties among the children.

Prof Sifuna, who teaches law at Moi University, said his experience as a scholar made him suitable for appointment and proposed that Judiciary should hire bloggers to help them counter negative publicity on social media.

JSC is seeking to appoint 11 Court of Appeal judges from the 35 shortlisted candidates.

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High CourtCourt of Appealeuthanasia