20 February 2013

East Africa: Lawyers Condemn Threats to Kenya's Chief Justice

Photo: Uhuru Kenyatta Campaign
Uhuru Kenyatta addresses supporters at a Jubilee rally in Mpeketoni.

Lawyers from the East African community have condemned alleged threats to Chief Justice Willy Mutunga ahead of the general elections.

In a joint statement, Law Society of Kenya (LSK) Chairman Eric Mutua and East Africa Law Society (EALS) President James Mwamu said that the threats cannot be taken lightly.

"The CJ and the Judiciary cannot be held ransom...we shall ensure that the rule of law reigns supreme and the culprits are brought to book," Mutua said.

Mutua regretted that a CJ can be threatened by a proscribed sect barely two weeks to the elections adding that "Investigations must be launched and the public assured that culprits have been prosecuted before March 4,"

EALS President James Mwamu called on the National Security and Intelligence Service to investigate the matter to restore confidence to voters before the polls.

"President Kibaki should order thorough investigations over the matter and the suspects be arraigned in court...justice must be seen to be done," Mwamu said.

He also urged the Judiciary to stand strong and resist against retrogressive forces stating that "The independence of the Judiciary has come a long way and it cannot be brought to its knees by a proscribed sect,"

Mwamu said that the Constitution provided for fundamental rights that catered for every citizen - including the CJ.

Similarity, a civil society organization the Rights Promotion and

Protection (RPP) Centre has released a statement saying it is "apprehensive" over the alleged threats made towards the judiciary.

"Noting that the  judicial power and authority of the judiciary is derived from the people, it  smacks utter arrogance and ignorance of individuals being used by the dark  forces to try and silence the institutions that can guarantee fairness and  freeness in a democratic process, especially in relation to disputes related to  elections," RPP said.

The group has also demanded investigations into the issue adding that all those involved should be held accountable.

At a press conference held earlier today, Chief Justice Willy Mutunga said that he has received a threatening letter against judges, ambassadors and himself stating that the letter "warns against an adversarial ruling on the Presidential and Deputy Presidential candidacy of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto"

The CJ also revealed that he was asked by an immigration officer at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to seek travel clearance from the Head of Civil Service Francis Kimemia a day after the letter was posted.

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