NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 11 – The Judicial Service Commission has faulted the proposed Judiciary Ombudsperson structure under Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) law review process saying the changes will entrench executive control on the institution.
Chief Justice David Maraga, who heads the commission on Friday said a President-appointed Ombudsperson as proposed in the BBI will increase the number of executive appointments from four to five and will thus entrench executive influence on Judiciary.
The President currently appoints four members of the JCS; Attorney General, one person nominated by the Public Service Commission, and one woman and one man to represent the public, not being lawyers, with the approval of the National Assembly.
“The unusually heavy tilt towards Executive representation in the JSC compared to other Commissions has the potential danger of entrenching Executive authority in the JSC and by extension, in the Judiciary,” Maraga cautioned.
BBI Steering Committee, in its final report, proposed the creation of the Judiciary Ombudsman who shall be appointed by the President with the approval of the Senate, a move that has been widely criticized by among other leaders, Deputy President William Ruto.
Maraga, noted that the move will cause duplication of mandates between the office of Ombudsperson and the commission and risks conflict between the two resulting to a Constitution quagmire.
“The risk of parallel complaints being instituted with the JSC as well as the Ombudsman and the possibility of different decisions being arrived at is real. Of greater concern is the fact that there already exist other alternative channels such as the office of the Judiciary ombudsman and the Commission on Administration of Justice through which the public can voice complaints,” he added.
JSC, therefore recommended that the structure of the Ombudsperson as proposed in the BBI be abandoned and instead have an office holder appointed and answerable to the JSC which will take action on any complaint raised by members of the public.
Under the current dispensation, The Deputy Chief Justice is the Judiciary Ombudsman under a mechanism which seeks to accelerate grievance management under the Office of the Chief Justice.