20 February 2013

East Africa: Lawyers Outraged At Chief Justice Threats

Director of public prosecutions Keirako Tobiko has directed Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo to probe allegations of attempts to intimidate ... ( Resource: Kenya's Top Prosecutor Reacts to Alleged Judiciary Threats

Nairobi — East African lawyers have condemned alleged threats against Chief Justice Willy Mutunga ahead of the general election.

Law Society of Kenya (LSK) chairman Eric Mutua and East Africa Law Society (EALS) president James Mwamu said the coercion should not be taken lightly.

Mutua regretted that a CJ could be threatened by a proscribed sect, at a time when the highly anticipated election was only 11 days away.

"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.

"Investigations must be launched and the public assured that culprits have been prosecuted before March 4."

Mutua said that independence of the Judiciary was envisaged in the Constitution and should be protected by all means.

Mutunga revealed on Wednesday that he had been threatened over the integrity case that involved Jubilee presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta and running mate William Ruto.

He disclosed that the threats were contained in a letter from the dreaded Mungiki sect that warned him of dire consequences.

"We (LSK) shall stand firm, defend public interest and ensure that the Constitution reigns supreme," Mutua said.

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

He noted the gains that the Judiciary had made as part of the larger reforms envisaged by the Constitution saying they should be upheld.

"The independence of the Judiciary has come a long way and it cannot be brought to its knees by a proscribed sect," Mwamu said.

The EALS president also urged the Judiciary to stand strong and resist against retrogressive forces.

"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.

Mwamu also argued that the Constitution provided for fundamental rights that catered for every citizen including the Chief Justice.

"Let us prevent the law of the jungle from taking charge ahead of transitional elections that are around the corner," Mwamu said.

He and Mutua said that the CJ said had invested heavily to reform the Judiciary in the last one and a half years for him to be cowed by threats.

"The Judiciary should not flinch in interpreting Constitution as required...no group or individual should bully the Judiciary," Mwamu said.

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