CJ insists Kenyan courts able

July 23, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya Jul 23 – Chief Justice Evan Gicheru said on Thursday that the Kenyan Judiciary has the capacity to deal with post election violence cases,  and downplayed fears of manipulation.

Speaking after opening a Judges and Magistrates Symposium in Nairobi, Mr Gicheru cautioned against relying on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to deliver justice, saying it may take too long.

“We have the standards; we are not any less than The Hague in trying our citizens for offences committed in this country. The only problem is it might take quite a bit of time but The Hague is not going to take any short time anyway, it may end up forever,” the CJ said.

“But here I know we have the staff, the judges; people who are competent to handle any (case) in this country.  That’s why we are judges otherwise we would be going home.”

The Chief Justice spoke as debate raged in Kenya over the best way to handle perpetrators of last year’s post-election violence. Sharp divisions have emerged across the political leadership, with some supporting the establishment of a Special Tribunal while others prefer the cases to be handed over to the ICC in The Hague.

Justice Gicheru was vehemently opposed to the “whole issue of crossing our borders and going to Europe where you are going to spend maybe 100 years before you can get any solution.”

He said a local solution should be sought, including pursuing justice through the normal courts.

The Waki Commission that investigated last year’s chaos recommended the establishment of a Special Tribunal, citing lack of public confidence with the present judicial system.

Those opposing a local trial have expressed fears that the process would be manipulated by politicians.

“No politician is involved in any way in the running of the courts nor do they interfere with the affairs of the courts. It might have happened in the past but not now,” said the Chief Judge.

He said the judges can no longer blame other people or institutions for their shortcomings or when they fail in carrying out their duties.

“We cannot keep using the excuse that certain individuals want to sway cases towards a certain way. That changed when I took office.  I emphasised that judges and magistrates must perform their duties in accordance with the law and any of them who is facing obstacles should come to me and I will deal with the situation. But we cannot tolerate the selective application of the law,” he said.


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