18 December 2012

Kenya: Poll-Related Cases Will Be Expedited - Chief Justice

Nairobi — Chief Justice Willy Mutunga now says that any political cases that are filed over the forthcoming elections will be determined before the March 4 polls, as the Judiciary seeks to beat tight deadlines.

Mutunga told journalists on Tuesday that the courts had set up a system that would give the cases a priority ensuring that they are heard and determined expeditiously.

He said the courts were prepared for the task noting that the suitability of the candidature of Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Eldoret North MP William Ruto was already being contested.

The High Court has already certified the matter, which was freshly filed by the International Centre for Peace and Conflict, as urgent.

"We are prepared to hear any disputes that arise. If you have noticed we have fast tracked all political cases so that the moment they are filed we get Judges to hear them because we don't want to get to elections when these matters are still pending," he said.

The civil society also wants those with pending criminal cases barred from seeking any elective posts in the upcoming elections.

Mutunga spoke after the swearing in ceremony of 23 Kadhis including the Deputy Chief Kadhi and two principal Kadhis.

He however noted that there was no female Kadhi in the country and urged the Muslim community to explore the probability.

"The Constitution allows them to be but it's not an easy thing because there are those who say it can't happen while others feel that it should happen so rather than divide a community over the issue we want participation so that they can reach a consensus," he said.

Mutunga also revealed that the Kadhis who would be posted to Meru, Homabay and Lamu would be required to provide mobile courts to make it convenient for those at the grassroots, who could not travel long distances but required judicial services.

"The judges in Meru will be going to Lodwar and Marsabit to hear cases. This is very important to us because you can imagine somebody in Moyale going all the way to Meru to go and file a case. It does not make any sense," he said.

The CJ also lauded the performance of the Kadhis Courts noting that they resolved a total of 5,563 cases last year including 2,212 newly filed cases although they are understaffed.

Kenya only has 35 Kadhis, including those who were sworn in on Tuesday.

"The Kadhis in office also ate into the backlog of pending cases. What these statistics mean is that Kadhis are able to assure Kenyans that their cases can be solved within six months," he said.

He added that there was a great demand for Kadhis Courts in Migori, Kakuma, Hola, Marsabit, Mandera, Wajir, Eastleigh, Ijara, Kibera and Kitui.

"While we know there is this demand we plan to increase the number of Kadhis in Mombasa, Malindi, Kwale, Nyeri, Homabay, Bungoma, Nakuru, Eldoret, Nyeri Marsabit, Isiolo Moyale, Wajir, Hola, Lamu and Garissa," he revealed.

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