Commonwealth legal bodies condemn attacks on Kenya's Judiciary

President William Ruto. [PCS]

Three Commonwealth legal bodies have urged President William Ruto to respect the authority and independence of the Judiciary.

This follows recent public attacks by Ruto following judgments made by the courts in litigation challenging government decisions.

The Commonwealth Magistrates’ and Judges’ Association (CMJA), the Commonwealth Legal Education Association (CLEA) and the Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA) in a statement on Thursday, January 11, said they supported position taken by the Chief Justice, Martha Koome, the Judicial Services Commission and the Law Society of Kenya.

The legal bodies opined a democratic state based on the rule of law cannot exist or function if the government and other state authorities ignore their constitutional obligations and fail to abide by court orders.

“Any measure on the part of the state authorities which is seen as eroding the authority and independence of the judiciary, is a matter of serious concern,” they said.

They also emphasised that any process of investigation must be founded in well-established principles of procedural and other fairness and must be transparent and open and must not be motivated by political or other inappropriate considerations.

Their statement comes even as lawyers plan to hold peaceful demonstrations on Friday, January 12, to protest President Ruto’s attack on the judiciary and his vow to disobey court orders that presumably do not favour government projects.

Law Society of Kenya (LSK) President Eric Theuri said all advocates and legal practitioners will put on purple ribbons during the demos to signify their support for the judiciary and the rule of law.

He said the LSK will also file a petition in the High Court to challenge the president’s remarks and actions that undermine the judiciary.

“We will not allow the executive to interfere with the independence and integrity of the judiciary, which is the last bastion of democracy and justice in this country,” he said.