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Koome wants 'good' inmates released to decongest jails

By Joackim Bwana | Jan 18th 2022 | 2 min read

Chief Justice Martha Koome (centre), Principal Judge Justice Lydia Achode (left) and Justice David Majanja during a past judges event at Sarova Whitesands, Mombasa County. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

Chief Justice Martha Koome has asked judges to decongest prisons by reviewing the sentences of convicts with good conduct and are legible for community services.

She told judges to visit prisons and review files of inmates who can do community service and be productive to society.

“All the resident and presiding judges across all stations should visit prisons and see how you decongest the prisons, review the sentences and look at those with good conduct and are legible to do community service,” said Ms Koome.

While addressing judges in Mombasa during the 17th annual High Court leaders conference, the CJ cited corruption and delays in delivery of judgment among major hurdles in the Judiciary.

“The enemy within us is corruption, lack of transparency and accountability and bribes and not being able to deliver judgment within the set timelines,” said Koome.

She noted that there has been continued complaints of allegations of misconduct by judges and judicial officers that bring the integrity of the Judiciary into doubt. 

“You must bring allegations relating to breach of the code of conduct and corruption to the attention of the Office of the Chief Justice or the Judicial Service Commission JSC for action. This will enable us to investigate and deal conclusively with such cases and enhance public confidence and trust in our judicial system,” said Koome. 

She asked the judges to pass the resolution to employ more judges to enable her bring it before the JSC, so to address the shortage of High Court judges who are currently operating at almost half capacity.  

“I know every judge is doing the work of two judges if not more. I will need your help to push a resolution at the JSC from your deliberations that you need more judges recruited urgently,” said Koome.  

A the same time, she said the quality of the justice system is threatened with persistent complaints about delay in concluding cases.     

“We have now set our benchmark for expedited delivery of justice by ensuring that no court case stays in a trial court for more than three years, and no more than one year on appeal,” said Koome.    

She said that there are very low numbers of merit resolutions when compared to the number of cases handled which leads to clogging and a backlog of matters that require substantive dispute resolution.

She said analysis of the data has revealed that in some court stations, missing files account for about 16 per cent as the reason for the adjournment. 

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