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Melly advises on selection of judges

By | November 19th 2009

By Ngumbao Kithi and Maureen Mudi

Blanket condemnation of the Judiciary would not serve the interests of justice and national focus should be institutional reforms to the judicial system.

The Standard Group Deputy Chairman and Strategy Advisor Paul Melly also dismissed as a fallacy wholesale condemnation of judicial officers as corrupt, incompetent and susceptible to manipulation.

"We should not make the same mistake we did during the purge on Judiciary by Justice Aaron Ringera’s team (in 2003) only to realise later not much was achieved and that there were possibly ulterior motives for the removal of judges,’’ he said.

Mr Melly told a panel of lawyers and judicial officers meeting under the aegis of International Commission of Jurists 50th Annual Conference special attention should be given to institutional reforms to the office of the Chief Justice.

"Whereas it is good to advertise the position of judges we should bear in mind the most competent people may not necessarily apply. We should encourage peer nomination in the Bench as judges know who are in the profession have the attributes and level of dignity required of a Judge," he said.

He added: "There are those who are competent and incorruptible who may not apply because of their distinguished positions and standing in society because they think if they fail to get the job, they may feel disgraced or dishonoured."

Speaking at the conference at Mombasa Continental Hotel, Mr Melly argued the reality and monstrosity of post-election violence would not have been revealed to Kenyans were it not for the media.

He argued discrepancies and competition would still have been fierce if there were no media coverage.

"The media coverage in 2007 elections and post-election violence was drawn to Kenyans through their ears and lenses. The world attention was drawn to catastrophic images through television and newspapers," he said.

Melly said it was unfortunate that violence emerged, many innocent people were hurt, killed and thousands displaced.

"The outcome would still have been contested in the no winner, no loser scenario," he said.

Melly said The Standard was the first newspaper in its front-page editorial to call on the then protagonists to share power and create positions of a prime minister and two deputies as none could govern alone.

He said without Press freedom, human rights would be undermined, corruption would thrive, democratisation would suffer, and leadership would become autocratic.

Melly said the international community witnessed the deteriorating situation and humanitarian catastrophe after the elections that left Kenyans equally shocked.

"It is collective local and international pressure and robust media that forced our leaders to work together in the Grand Coalition Government," he said.

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