NAIROBI, Kenya Feb 24- President Mwai Kibaki on Thursday assured that his Government was ready to abide and always respect judicial pronouncements to ensure promotion of the rule of law.
Speaking when he officially opened the new Milimani Law Courts at Upper Hill in Nairobi, the Head of State affirmed the Government’s commitment to protecting the stature of the Judiciary even in the budgetary allocations to facilitate it in discharging its constitutional mandate.
President Kibaki affirmed that a strong, independent and incorruptible judicial system was a key pillar to national stability.
The President said: “My Government and indeed any future government and all the citizens of this country must always respect the judgments and pronouncements of the Judiciary. This is an absolutely important tenet for the promotion of the rule of law.”
The President, however, urged the judiciary on its part to not only deliver judgments fairly and expeditiously but also to faithfully interpret the law.
“On their part, the citizens of our country expect from the Judiciary, fair and expeditious applications and interpretations of the law. Confidence building is a two way path. A strong, independent and fair judicial system, devoid of corruption is a key pillar of national stability,” the President said.
He further noted that enormous resources would be required to install important facilities and the newly created judicial structures such as the Supreme Court, the Office of the Deputy Chief Justice, and Secretariat for the Judicial Service Commission and adequate court facilities in all the 47 counties.
With regard to the ongoing reforms, President Kibaki expressed satisfaction with the achievements realized so far and pledged his government’s support to the Judiciary in its transformation process as envisaged under the new Constitution.
“I would like to state that the Government will continue to support the Judiciary as it implements the reforms under the new Constitutional dispensation,” the President said.
He acknowledged that the envisioned judicial renewal would not only minimise the cost of litigation but would also make dispute resolution predictable for citizens, investors and consumers of judicial services.
In order to achieve a robust Judiciary, the President noted that a faithful process of vetting the judges and magistrates should be set up but added that it must in itself be an embodiment of justice.
The Head of State said: “I am happy to note that the National Assembly is about to conclude the passage of the relevant laws which will be used in the process of renewing our Judiciary. This is an important step, in the implementation of the Constitution. Natural justice must apply to this process so that we end up with a robust Judiciary which will grow from strength to strength.”
Assuring of his government’s commitment in the modernization of the Judiciary, President Kibaki praised the ongoing expansion of judicial facilities countrywide and termed the project a milestone which heralds many benefits in the administration of justice.
“My Government is committed to funding the modernization of the Judiciary. I am particularly pleased that this Courthouse incorporates the digitization and automation of court proceedings and processes. This is an important milestone, which will bring about numerous benefits to the administration of justice,” remarked the President.
“Some of these benefits include: reduction in the time spent by counsel, litigants and judicial officers in looking for files, hasten the processing of court records for appeal purposes, enable judicial officers to prepare and deliver their rulings on time, allow parties to access the details of their cases including status online; and reduce the costs and time of litigation,” observed the President.
The newly refurbished building comprises of 56 courtrooms and a similar number of chambers thus providing suitable working space for judges and magistrates.
He appreciated that adequate court facilities not only greatly reduce the backlog of cases being handled by the Judiciary but also speeds up determination of the cases thus facilitating national development.
“In addition to this new Courthouse, I am aware that the Judiciary has initiated several projects aimed at enhancing access to justice, in many parts of our country. I encourage the Judiciary to work tirelessly to ensure that every Kenyan can easily access the corridors of justice when they need to,” he added.
Commending the project implementers, President Kibaki advocated for courtroom designs that give an expression of and embraces the values of fairness and impartiality.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga who also graced the occasion warned land grabbers to keep off public resources, especially land, which are set aside for future expansion of government institutions including law courts.
Mr Odinga said the government had consented to a request by the Registrar of the High Court Lydia Achode that the adjacent Forodha House owned by the Customs Department be allocated to the Judiciary.
Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo congratulated the Principals in the grand coalition government for the leading role they have played in the implementation of the Reform Agenda in the country.
Mr Kilonzo at the same time praised parliamentarians for passing the Judicial Service Bill which, he said, was critical to the introduction of Information Technology and delivery of e-Judicial services.
The Minister hinted that the Draft Bill on establishment of the country’s Supreme Court would be ready for tabling in Parliament soon.
Outgoing Chief Justice Evan Gicheru in his farewell speech took pride of the introduction of direct banking of court fines in the High Courts and Magistrates courts in the country.
"We have made preparation to the KRA and the Treasury to consider allowing us introduce direct bank in the collection of fines forfeitures so as to reduce the losses that we are experience through conspiracies between judicial officers, Lawyers and District treasuries," he said.
Mr Gicheru said that they will need about Sh250 million to fully furnish and equip the facility to its full operational status.
Law Society of Kenya Chairman Kenneth Akide who also paid tribute to the legislators for passing the Judicial Service Bill further urged them to support a proposal to establish a High Court in each of the 47 counties in the country.
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