President William Ruto today graced the annual state of the judiciary report and used the occasion to address accusations of capturing the operations of the Judiciary.
The president has been accused by Azimio La Umoja leader Raila Odinga after Ruto appointed the six judges that were rejected by his predecessor, Uhuru Kenyatta, immediately after assuming office in September.
Odinga dismissed the appointments as a ploy to control the Judiciary and took issue with the president’s promise to increase the Judiciary fund by Ksh.3 billion every year, saying he was interfering with its independence.
Critics have also questioned his presence at many Judiciary functions since assuming office, the latest ones being the launch of the annual state of the Judiciary report last month and Monday’s release of the Administration of Justice Report by Chief Justice Martha Koome.
Speaking on Monday at Safari Park Hoterl, Ruto said it is time the criminal justice system reforms were enhanced in the country as this will will help catch up with best practices and respond to the “common sense of basic fairness”.
Delays in cases, he regretted, are more prejudicial than the eventual penalty on conviction. “The prejudice is compounded where the accused turns out to be not guilty. Custodial sentencing should not be default conviction especially where petty crime is involved,” he said.
The President explained that the use of technology, alternative resolution, diversion and alternatives to prosecution could help achieve justice without burdening the criminal justice system. Even with the prevailing budgetary challenges, he pledged that the Government will mobilise sufficient resources to facilitate access to justice.
He commended the National Council on the Administration of Justice for its emphasis on the enhancement of access to justice by vulnerable groups. Present were Chief Justice Martha Koome, Attorney General Justin Muturi, Director of Public Prosecution Noordin Haji, Chief Registrar of the Judiciary Anne Amadi, EU Ambassador to Kenya Henriette Geiger, Danish Ambassador to Kenya Ole Thonke, among others.
Ms Koome said different arms of Government must endeavor to cooperate for public good. “The Judiciary, Execute and the Legislature are inevitably interdependent; they must work together because they serve the same people,” she said.
Mr Muturi lauded the ongoing transformation in the country’s justice system. “The Judicary that I served long time ago was one that left the administration of justice to one’s maker,” he observed.
On his part, Mr Haji said the country’s justice system was leveraging on technology to improve service delivery.