Michuki: Judges must be accountable

August 22, 2008 12:00 am

, MOMBASA, August 22 – Cabinet Minister John Michuki on Friday joined the raging debate on performance contracting for judges, saying that as public servants the judiciary was accountable to the tax-payer.

The Judges must be accountable to Kenyans on how they perform their duties and not engage in a debate that has no meaning, Michuki stressed.

“The independence of the Judiciary is only on the bench where they decide over cases,” he argued, rubbishing claims that the contracting would infringe on the Judiciary’s independence.

The Minister was speaking to Journalists in Mombasa after officially opening the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG) workshop for Ministers, at the Whitesands Hotel.

Michuki noted that though independent, the judges were also accountable to the government and thus had an obligation to put down their performance structures, goals and achievements.

On Tuesday, the Chief Justice Evan Gicheru stressed that they would not give in to mounting pressure to sign the contracts.

Gicheru insisted that his team was operating professionally, and argued that theirs is a constitutional office that was independent of any scrutiny.

“We are ready to move to court to stop the government from implementing the performance contracts in the judiciary,” the CJ added.

The comments came after Prime Minister Raila Odinga announced that no public servants, including judges, would be exempt from signing the performance documents.

The Law Society of Kenya has also been pushing for a total overhaul of magistrates, saying most of them have been compromised to award hefty penalties in their rulings.

The contracting debate has created a row between the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary on how independent one is to scrutiny and accountability.

On Friday, Michuki urged judges not to blow the issue out of proportion, since all public servants have a duty to outline their performance, and if found to be unproductive, the employer decides what subsequent action to take.

Michuki further said that the performance contracting policy was the only way to exercise accountability and the performance rating of public servants for taxpayers.

The contracts have also been opposed by teachers.


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