18 May 2011

Kenya: Much Maligned Judiciary Got Its Act Together Last Year

Nairobi — The much maligned Judiciary has disposed of the highest number of cases in four years.

Often blamed for failure to determine cases faster, the Judiciary closed more than 100,000 files last year than it did four years ago in 2006, according to the Economic Survey 2011 whose results were released on Tuesday.

Also, according to the survey report released by Planning minister Wycliffe Oparanya, 509,394 cases were disposed of in various courts countrywide in 2010, some 50,000 more than those that were determined in 2009.

But the figure still left 688,760 cases pending in courts, a number that the three newly proposed justice officials are likely to be confronted with if their names receive a nod from Parliament.

Dr Willy Mutunga and Nancy Barasa have been recommended for Parliamentary approval for the positions of Chief Justice and deputy Chief Justice respectively.

Mr Keriako Tobiko's name was also among the three names tabled by House Speaker Kenneth Marende in Parliament on Wednesday. Mr Tobiko is proposed for the position Director of Public Prosecutions.

According to the report, the number of cases disposed of last year was a big increase from the 396.084 cases determined in 2006.

The report attributed the improved determination of cases to a move by the Judiciary to embark on various projects aimed at speeding up delivery of justice and facilitating ease of access to court records.

"This was achieved through digitisation of court records in the high court divisions of Nairobi Law Courts and Milimani Commercial Courts," says the report.

It shows that there was a decline in the number of cases filed and pending in the magistrates courts last year.

The number of cases filed by high courts reduced while the total number of pending cases in high courts slightly increased from 106,898 in 2009 to 107,748 in 2010.

The report said the government had continued to implement governance reforms in line with Agenda Four of the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation process established to seek solutions to the 2007 post election violence.

According to the survey, the number of judicial officers in courts increased from 338 in 2009 to 414 in 2010 representing a 22.5 per cent rise.

The number of magistrates increased from 281 to 358 in the same period. At the directorate of public prosecutions, the number of registered murder cases increased by 14.6 per cent last year compared to 2009.

The murder cases went up from 893 in 2009 to 1,023 last year. The highest number of registered murders was recorded in Nakuru (133) followed by Kisii with 123 cases. Nairobi was third with 108 murder cases registered.

Female prisoners

According to the report, the number of female prisoners aged 16 and 17, as well as people aged above 50 and above went up.

During the year, convicted prison population declined from 108,032 to 88,631 people. There were 7,185 people aged 50 and above who were convicted last year.

People sentenced for one to two years accounted for 68 per cent of the total population, most of whom were men. But the number of offenders serving probation sentence increased from 13,788 in 2009 to 15,933 last year.

The report says: "There was an increase in the number of persons serving probation service who committed offences related to corruption."

Offenders who were serving probation sentence and whose numbers went up were those accused of theft of motor vehicles, bicycles and theft of stocks.

But offenders who were serving community service orders declined by 49.5 per cent, according to the report. The report said 187,203 aliens were registered last year.

Locally, the report said, the number of applicants for new identity cards increased by 52 per cent last year compared to 2009 -- from 611,742 to 930,768.

Of the applications last year, 632,219 were successfully processed representing a 67.9 completion rate. The highest number of applicants of new identity cards came from Nairobi followed by Central Province.

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