, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 6 – The Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board Tuesday submitted its final report to President Uhuru Kenyatta in which it proposes far reaching recommendations including formation of an independent disciplinary tribunal to take up its role.
The report recommends a broad structure providing effective access to justice and investment on human capital in the judiciary.
Board chairperson Sharad Rao said the proposed tribunal, to work under the Judicial Service Commission, should comprise members outside the Judiciary to avoid conflict of interest.
Rao said the disciplinary tribunal would receive complaints from members of public on errant judicial officers and make recommendations for appropriate action.
He said although they initially faced challenges and hostility from members of the Judiciary, their work has been appreciated as it has restored confidence to the Judiciary. But he added the Executive had not interfered.
“Since the board was constituted, we have never had any interference from the Executive or any political quarters,” said Rao.
The report gives details on why and how reforms can be carried out in the judiciary. Rao said, “A lot of confidence has been restored to the judiciary as a result of the work of the board”.
President Kenyatta commended the board for conducting its affairs above board.
“You managed to do your job in conformity with your mandate, which is not common in Kenya. You sustained and kept your credibility and nobody has ever challenged your work,” he said.
President Kenyatta concurred with the board on the need to set up an independent tribunal to continue with the work it has been doing saying the integrity of the judiciary system underlines the foundation of the society.
The President challenged the Judiciary to be accountable for its work, saying negative perceptions would erode credibility of its rulings.
“The Judiciary must always understand that they are being watched, everybody must be accountable and judiciary is no exception,” said the President. Judicial system cannot afford to be bias, it has to be a true independent institution,” said the President.
“We need to have an ongoing system that shall keep people on their toes, so that they can know whatever decisions they reach they will be looked at,” he added.
The board was established in 2011 as part of the Judiciary reform process to determine the suitability of all the judges and magistrates who were in office as at the effective date of the constitution to restore confidence in the Judiciary in accordance with the values and principles set out in the Constitution.