, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 28 – The recruitment of new judges and magistrates is underway to bridge the staffing gap that has slowed down completion of cases, Chief Justice David Maraga announced on Thursday.
According to Maraga, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) had commenced the process of hiring over forty new judges and at least 100 magistrates to address the shortfall.
“JSC has commenced the process of recruiting judges and magistrates so that they can meet the shortfall and deal with the cases we have,” he said.
He noted that Judiciary was about to attain a gender parity equilibrium with the current male-to-female ratio of its 5,698 staff currently standing at 51.3:48.7.
“We’ve ensured that in the recruitment policy we continue to adhere to the constitutional requirement and we pride ourselves that is well on its way to achieving gender parity in our staff composition,” the CJ remarked.
Maraga who spoke during the release of the 2017/18 State of Judiciary and Administration of Justice (SOJAR) report said the Court of Appeal currently had a shortage of eleven judges, a shortfall that was straining its operations.
“In the Environment and Lands Court, for instance because of the number of judges we have, one cannot get a hearing date this year because the diary is full. The Court of Appeal has nineteen judges against the set minimum number of thirty,” he noted.
The Judiciary posted an 87 per cent competition rate of case backlog dating five years and above.
The CJ stated tremendous progress had been made in the fight against corruption saying a total of 91 graft cases had been concluded between January 2017 and December 2018, 46 of these resulting into convictions.
Maraga promised to ensure some 91 pending corruption cases are expedited and concluded in a timely manner.
In his SOJAR 2017/18 address, the Chief Justice reported the conclusion of over 148,000 cases between January 2017 and December 2018.
“The number of cases which were more than five years old was 170,186. Between January 2017 and December 2018 we resolved a total of 148,877 of those cases and that works to 87 per cent success,” he said.
Maraga noted an additional 611,948 cases were cleared during the same period, the Judiciary now aiming at clearing cases within at most three years.
“As we cleared the cases some graduated to the category of cases that are older than five years. We aim to clear them by the end of this year despite a steady increase in the number of cases being filed,” he said.
President Uhuru Kenyatta who was the chief guest at the SOJAR 2017/18 assured Maraga of his support to ensure the Judiciary was adequately funded to discharge its mandate.
“We had a chat in the office of the President of the Court of Appeal and if his office is anything to go by I wonder how the rest of the offices are. We therefore made a commitment that we would work together to see how we can improve and start work on the construction of new Court of Appeal,” he said.
The Court of Appeal is currently housed at the Supreme Court Building with plans to build premises in Nairobi’s Upper Hill having stalled due to inadequate funding.
President Kenyatta however said on Thursday the planned construction will be revived even as he offered Court of Appeal judges office space at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) as they await completion of new Court of Appeal premises.
“We hope to work with Parliament to ensure work on the new premises commences in the shortest time possible but in the meantime we have offered space at KICC,” he said.