NAIROBI, Kenya, March 10 – Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Martha Karua wants an audit system in the judiciary as part of reforms to make the department effective.,
Ms Karua maintained that serious reforms were required and auditing the judiciary would ensure measurable targets are reached.
“It has to be audited for quantity and quality because we can push people to work and they give us substandard work. It (auditing) has happened in Rwanda and it is working,” the Minister said.
“When we say measurable targets, it doesn’t mean the Executive goes there to measure for them, it means the judiciary contracts other jurists to evaluate the performance. And once everybody knows they are under the spotlight, people tend to behave,” she added.
Ms Karua said cleaning up the justice system entirely depended on all arms of the government.
“There are reforms that can only be done politically by the two principals (President Mwai Kibaki and PM Raila Odinga), those that can be done legislatively by Parliament and others that can be started by Cabinet,” she stated adding “so it is not for me alone to implement.”
She was responding to questions from journalists after opening a conference on forensic investigations of gender based violence where she also admitted that previous attempts to change the judicial system were inadequate citing the 2003 judicial reforms by the then Narc government.
“Even if I say I have implemented a thousand things, we are still clogged. The radical surgery was only good for shock therapy which lasted for a very short time and it was back to business as usual,” she stated.
“They were well intentioned but we needed more thought on how to sustain; how to hold each officer to account and that is the current debate going on.”
At the same time the Minister admitted that the government had failed in properly addressing cases of sexual violence.
Ms Karua said despite most sexual violence cases resulting from political upheaval, the issue had not been given the prominence it deserved.
“It is therefore important that as a society we take the fight against gender based violence a notch higher and start addressing the impunity that goes with it. Emphasis should be placed on the protection and safeguarding on the rights of the vulnerable in our society,” she said.
The Minister said although the government had undertaken some key reforms to protect the innocent and bring to justice those implicated, lack of knowledge among key implementers and the victims of what was expected of them had been a setback.
“Survivors of gender based violence may be empowered by a strong criminal justice system that addresses gender based violence seriously and that perpetrators may be weakened by legislation that condemns gender based violence and an effective criminal justice system that will not tolerate acts of gender based violence or breed impunity.”
Attorney General Amos Wako who was also present said he had received a total of 58 files on gender based violence during the post election crisis investigated by the taskforce on sexual offences act but in all the cases police had recommended closure for lack of evidence.
“I have nevertheless appointed a team of prosecutors to peruse through the files and recommend appropriate action,” the AG said.
“I am the first to admit that this is just but a tip of the iceberg, they may not be all the cases. Part of the reason is lack of witnesses because of the displacement of persons and I think as the country regains peace, witnesses will be available.”