21 June 2011

Kenya: Mutunga Sworn in, Vows to Clean Up the Judiciary

Chief Justice Willy Mutunga took office yesterday with a vow to restore public trust in the judiciary and rid the institution of corruption. The CJ, who was sworn in alongside his deputy Nancy Baraza, and the Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko at State House, said that the Judiciary must henceforth earn the public trust by how it conducts its affairs.

Speaking after being sworn in, Justice Mutunga said the Judiciary must become an institution of service for the people. "It should no longer be possible to speak about corruption and the Judiciary in one breath," said the CJ.

He further reminded Kenyans that it is their responsibility to monitor, report and ensure that the Judiciary is accountable. "As a country, we now stand on a constitutional frontier from which we expect to put tyranny, oppression and exploitation, opacity and impunity on the back-foot, while making strides towards freedom, opportunity, and transparency and liberty, Justice Mutunga said. He pledged to uphold dignity and respect for the Judiciary and the judicial system.

He warned his fellow judicial officers that the judiciary would no longer be used to settle political scores and serve commercial interests. "In return for the independence the Constitution of Kenya secures for us, we as judges must guard against becoming captives of political, commercial or other interests," the CJ said.

He said he had instructed all judicial officials serving under him to discharge their duties diligently and ensure that courts remained reachable to Kenyans at all times.

The CJ assured Kenyans that courts will remain accessible to all citizens at all times to ensure that they get justice whenever they need it. He called upon the other arms of the Government to respect, preserve and protect the separation of powers as mandated by the constitution.

He cautioned that failure to observe and respect the constitutional design of separation of powers will not only imperil "our nascent democracy but also be an unforgivable assault on the sacrifices and aspirations of the people of Kenya".

While acknowledging the great contribution of the Law Society of Kenya, to the progress of the country's democratization, he invited their support in the difficult exercise of restoring the public confidence.

Earlier at State House during the swearing in ceremony, President Kibaki said the ceremony marked a turning point for the Judiciary and urged the three to live to the expectations of the country. He also urged Kenyans to support the appointees as they endeavour to reform the judicial system.

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