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Jurists want NIS probed over threats to judges

NATIONAL
By James Wanzala | October 25th 2021

ICJ -Kenya Chair Kelvin Mogeni addresses the press in Nairobi. Left, ICJ-Kenya Programme Manager Julie Matheka. [Edward Kiplimo,Standard]

Jurists want the country’s spy agency investigated over undue pressure, threats and intimidation of judges and judicial officers.

Addressing journalists in Nairobi, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ-Kenya) said it had received several complaints from judges and magistrates, on phone tapping, being followed to their homes, transfers and unlawful searches due to past rulings.

They said the trend peaked during adjudication or after delivery of important decisions.

“This is more so when the decisions are perceived to be unfavourable to the Executive arm,” said Kelvin Mogeni, the ICJK chair. The claims come days after High Court, in a judgement last Friday, directed President Uhuru Kenyatta to appoint the remaining six nominees as judges within 14 days.

In June, the President appointed 34 of the 40 nominees presented by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).

The Friday decision further stated that in the event of inaction from the President within the 14 days, it would be presumed that his power to appoint them expired and the six shall be deemed duly appointed.

It further directed that Chief Justice and the JSC shall be at liberty to take necessary steps to swear the six judges.

“We welcome this judgement and particularly its direction regarding the consequences of dereliction of duty by the President. As we speak, there is no stay granted by the High Court or Court of Appeal to stay the implementation of that decision. There was also an application by the Attorney General to stay that decision pending hearing at the Court of Appeal, which was also denied,” said Mr Mogeni.

He said it was regrettable that the Executive required the intervention of the court for them to undertake what they were mandated to do. “We wish to remind the Executive the Constitution, in Article 160, guarantees independence of Judiciary and insulates the institution from control,” he said.

Mogeni said when they received the complaints, they wrote to NIS Director-General Major-General Philip Kameru on October 8. The letter was copied to Chief Justice Martha Koome, chair of JSC, Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi and MP Kigano Muturi, who chairs the Justice Legal Affairs Committee.

The NGO said the Judiciary’s independence must be jealously guarded and upheld by refraining from interfering in its work and by compliance with its decisions or rulings.

The ICJK wants the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to probe the claims, and Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to prosecute those threatening the judges. 

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