NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 9 – Judges will be posted to newly established High Courts in 14 counties from September 1.
The new stations will increase the number of High Courts in the country from 17 to 34.
“This brings the number of High Court stations in the country to 34, a 100 percent increase,” Chief Justice Willy Mutunga said Thursday.
He explained that prior to his appointment as Chief Justice in 2011 there were only 17 High Court stations in the country.
The new High Courts will be in Turkana (Lodwar), Marsabit, West Pokot (Kapenguria Law Courts), Baringo (Kabarnet Law Courts), Tana River and Taita Taveta (Voi Law Courts) counties.
The others are in Laikipia, (Nanyuki Law Courts), Nyamira, Siaya, Tharaka Nithi (Chuka Law Courts), Migori, Kitui, Bomet and Kajiado counties.
However the posting of the judges will not be permanent. “A further re-organisation to increase or reduce the number of judges in any station may occur depending on the evolving nature of the caseload situation in that station.”
The new courts will fasten court processes and also take justice closer to people as explained by the Chief Justice.
Mutunga further announced changes in the organisation and posting of new judges to improve judicial services in the country.
“These postings are informed by empirical data, such as caseload for each station/division; the need to reduce long distances citizens have to cover to access courts. It is unconscionable that 52 years after independence, many of our compatriots have to cover nearly 800 kilometres to reach their nearest High Court station,” he said.
Whereas the changes are in line with constitutional rights, they are also in support of devolution geared at taking services close to people.
The new measures taken by the judiciary will also seek to decongest overloaded courts in the country.
“I have adopted a decongestion and de-concentration strategy, where stations hitherto serving several counties, and therefore bearing huge caseloads drawn from such large catchment areas, have now been split by establishing new High Court stations in several neighbouring counties,” he explained.
Before their posting, the 14 judges will work to clear a backlog of 30,000 cases that had accumulated even before Kenya’s independence.
The judiciary announced that the 14 judges had cleared 13,267 cases out of the 30,000 in 10 most overloaded stations.
Despite the new changes, Mutunga was disclosed that the country has only 15 Environment and Land judges.
“This is certainly not enough given the volume of land litigation,” he explained.
However he said that the Judicial Service Commission will start hiring more judges to resolve recurrent land and environmental matters that has led to delays in some courts.