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Muturi wants AG office delinked from PSC

National
 Attorney General Justin Muturi when he appeared before the Senate Health Committee to deliberate on the management and use of the Kenyatta University Teaching Referral and Training Hospital (KUTRRH) by KU medical students.  [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Attorney General Justin Muturi is now pushing for his office to be delinked from the Public Service Commission (PSC), over claims that his office was being side-stepped by government in key decision-making.

Muturi on Tuesday told MPs that the PSC had failed to employ and retain enough state counsels.

This the AG said was the reason the government loses court cases on several occasions.

He was speaking when he appeared before the National Assembly Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) to give submissions on the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2023 which is currently before the House team and proposes the delinking of his office from PSC.

The Bill has also proposed the setting up of an advisory board that will be in charge of the recruitment of the senior Solicitors General and state counsel without involving the PSC.

Muturi told the committee that the number of staff – from the Solicitor General to the lowest ranked State counsel- at the State Law office had decreased from 1,066 officers in 2020 to 523 currently.

He attributed the mass exodus at the State law office to poaching of workers by independent offices such as Parliament, the Judiciary, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP) and even the PSC itself which he said offers a better salary.

The AG regretted that despite his predecessor Kihara Kariuki and the immediate former Solicitor General Kennedy Ogeto writing to PSC several times to increase the number of State counsel, they had gotten no response. 

“The State Law Office is understaffed and demoralised. Whenever we want to send the counsels to counties to offer services to the people the PSC says no. The ministries are requesting for counsels but then we have a limited number,” said Muturi.

"The connection with PSC has never worked well for the Attorney General’s office. We need to be allowed to show what we can do with a fully constituted workforce. The state requires enough competent state counsel who are well remunerated to enable the country to properly deal with technical international agreements touching on oil and gas, carbon credit trading and climate change among others,” he argued.

The AG explained that lack of enough state counsel meant that Kenyans could at times not access services such as registration of marriages and urged the committee to approve the Bill to allow his office to recruit staff and determine salaries.

The committee also heard that despite Muturi recommending an in-post of five senior Solicitors General and 13 deputy Solicitors General at the State Law Office, PSC went ahead to appoint the five senior Solicitors General and posted them to various government establishments including State House albeit without the input or consultation of the AG.

The 13 deputy Solicitors General are also yet to be recruited.

This, AG noted, was contrary to section 21 of the Office of the Attorney General Act which states that the Attorney General “may in consultation with and on the recommendation of the PSC appoint such number of state counsel as may be.”

Muturi is now seeking for the amendment of sections 13, 21 and 22 of the Office of the Attorney General Act to delink the PSC from the appointment of deputy Solicitors-General, state counsel and their remuneration.

Section 13 of the Act stipulates that the Attorney-General may, in consultation with, the PSC, appoint such Deputy Solicitors-General as the Attorney-General may consider necessary for the proper and efficient discharge of the functions of the Office.

The Bill seeks to delete the words “in consultation with PSC” from sections 13 and 21 of the Act. It also seeks to delink the PSC from the terms and conditions of service of the officers.

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