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We will fight graft, deputy CJ hopefuls say

COUNTIES
By Luke Anami | September 28th 2016
Lady justice Fatuma Sichale arrive at Supreme court on 27/September/2016 to be vetted for the position of deputy Chief Justice. Two appellate judges have promised to fight corruption, reduce backlog of cases and streamline operations if appointed Deputy Chief Justice. (PHOTO: EDWARD KIPLIMO/ STANDARD)

Two appellate judges have promised to fight corruption, reduce backlog of cases and streamline operations if appointed Deputy Chief Justice.

Judge Fatuma Sichale promised to introduce a lifestyle audit as a measure of fighting corruption in the Judiciary when she appeared before the Judicial Service Commission for an interview yesterday.

Judge Hannah Okwengu said she would recommend psycho-social measures to handle cases of alcoholism in the Judiciary, as well as investigate cases of sexual harassment.

"I noticed that most cases of corruption emanate from the registry. I would suggest a lifestyle audit of, for example, a clerk who all of a sudden is driving a Range Rover, staying in a leafy suburb and cannot explain the sudden change in his or her lifestyle," said Justice Sichale, who was once a deputy director at the defunct Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC).

The judge admitted there was a missing link between the courts and the anti-graft agency in the fight against corruption.

"The missing link is brought about by the manner in which the anti-corruption commission carries out investigations," she said.

She said the fight against corruption would be handled faster if the commission was granted powers to prosecute.

"It is wastage of manpower and resources to carry out investigations both at the EACC and the courts. If EACC officers were given powers to prosecute, there would be no time wastage," she said.

She added: "The transfer policy that requires a judge not to spend more than three years at one station should be fully implemented so that judicial officers do not get too familiar at their posts, thus resorting to corrupt practices."

She defended her role at the defunct KACC, saying despite the move by Parliament to have them resign, the commission performed well and even did recover assets under her watch as the officer in charge of Assets Recovery.

"During our tenure, we were able to recover assets including land where the northern and southern by-pass is and Grand Regency Hotel, among other assets. Our role and mandate was limited to recovery but what happened after that was beyond us," she said.

In the case of Grand Regency, the hotel now renamed Laico Regency was recovered from Goldenberg architect Kamlesh Patni and handed over to the Central Bank of Kenya whose decision to sell it led to public discontent.

Justice Okwengu said improvement of infrastructure in both Magistrates and High courts would go a long way in reducing backlog of cases.

"There is a need to look into how Magistrate's courts work. Some of the conditions are pathetic," she said. Okwengu a member of the Judiciary ICT Committee and Committee on Criminal Procedure.

She called for the motivation of judicial staff among them judges and magistrates as an incentive to reducing the backlog of cases.

"As magistrates, judges used to have returns to gauge our own performance but at the moment returns are carried out by clerks. I am not sure even judges look at them," Okwengu who has worked in Mombasa, Malindi, Kisumu and Nairobi said.

She said she would employ the use of psycho-social measures to fight alcoholism in the Judiciary.

She denied being too harsh to lawyers appearing before her court.

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