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LSK invites public views on judicial nominees

NAIROBI, Kenya, April 12 – The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) will in the next seven days collect views regarding the suitability of candidates who have been shortlisted for various judicial positions before presenting their findings to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), next week.

The LSK has invited members of the public to scrutinise those nominated for the positions of Chief Justice, deputy Chief Justice, judges of the Supreme Court as well as those of the High Court.

While speaking to journalists on Tuesday, LSK Chairman Kenneth Akide said the exercise, which had been authorised by the JSC secretary, was aimed at ensuring a free and transparent selection process.

"It\’s very urgent and we just have seven days. The Registrar of the High Court has told me that the LSK must submit its report to her by latest Tuesday next week. And we intend to comply," he said.

The society will collect the information through its provincial offices countrywide.

Mr Akide also asked Kenyans to be candid and forthright while submitting their views arguing that they should factor in Chapter Six of the Constitution.

"We welcome views not just what makes the candidates unsuitable, which is what Kenyans like doing, but we also want views on what, particularly, makes the candidates suitable for the positions that they have presented themselves for," he said.

Some of the qualities being sought are high moral character, integrity, impartiality, high professional competence, good communication skills, fairness and good judgment. Those who qualify for the positions of Chief Justice and deputy Chief Justice must have served as superior court judges for 15 years, be distinguished academics, judicial officers or legal practitioners.

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The LSK further pledged to treat the information it gathers with confidence maintaining that it would only be used to assist the JSC attain its objectives.

"What we are saying is that the request by the JSC to us is firmly anchored in the law and the LSK is a pillar in the issues touching on judicial reforms and the administration of justice," he said.

Mr Akide further rejected calls to the JSC to shortlist at least three names for the positions of Chief Justice and deputy Chief Justice before presenting the recommendations to the President. He said that the commission was at liberty to pick out any number of candidates for the positions.

"The constitution does not compel the JSC to present three, two or one name. So it is a choice it can exercise and as you may know they have said that they intend to present one candidate for these positions. They are within the law," he said.

The society also lauded the works done by the JSC so far in short listing the candidates. Mr Akide noted that the commission had promoted gender equality in the process and facilitated competitiveness.

The JSC has already selected 10 candidates for the positions of Chief Justice. They will be interviewed between May 3 and May 12 after which a nominee will be selected. The nominee\’s name will then be forwarded to the President who will make the appointment after Parliament\’s approval.

Court of Appeal Judges Riaga Omollo, Samwel Bosire, Alnashir Visram and Joseph Nyamu have been short-listed for the position of Chief Justice. High Court Judges Mbogholi Msagha, Mary Angawa, Kalpana Rawal and Kihara Kariuki and lawyers Lee Muthoga and Dr Willy Mutunga have also been selected.

The Commission had received applications from 12 candidates and dropped the names of Isaac Azania Bryant and Edward Torgbor of Ghana.

A further eight names were shortlisted for the position of deputy Chief Justice. Only one of these names is male. Among those whose names were dropped for deputy CJ included that of High Court Judges William Ouko and Nicholas Ombija.

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