18 May 2017

Kenya: Uhuru's Challenge to the Judiciary

President Uhuru Kenyatta has challenged the Judiciary to bold in dealing with corruption and issues on women empowerment and gender.

Mr Kenyatta also assured the Judiciary that the government would give it full support as he made a strong case for support of women and girls.

Addressing an international conference of women judges in Nairobi on Thursday, President Kenyatta asked political parties and lawmakers to consider gender representation and the support for the proposed law on two-thirds gender rule, saying economic freedom must not know gender.

"You are equal to the challenges that face us today," the President said during the official opening of the conference at Safari Park Hotel.

"We, as Africans of the present generations, are equal to the historic task of lifting up our nations and peoples... I will urge the legislature and the political class that occupies it, to be similarly engaged with your great mission -- particularly on the issue of gender in representation, and the two-third rule," he added.


He called on the Judiciary to be bold to handle corruption related matters as well as abuse of justice especially to women.

"We are passing laws, we are crafting legislation, but we must aim to do more to implement the fine ideas and sentiments that they express," Mr Kenyatta told the 15th Africa regional conference for the International Association of Women Judges, the second to be held in the country since the formation of the lobby 26 years ago.

He also congratulated judges Effie Owour, Joyce Oluoch who was elected Vice President of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2015 and Court of Appeal's Roselyn Nambuye for being the founders of the Kenya Women Judges Association (KWJA) which has hosted their counterparts from other countries.

And on a light note before ending his address to the over 300 women judges who are attending the conference which kicked off on Wednesday, the President wooed their colleagues from Kenya to support him in his second presidential bid.

"I persuade and encourage you to vote for people who cherish this ideas," He also asked the visiting judges to tour Kenya as well!


Attorney General Githu Muigai, Chief Justice David Maraga, Judiciary's Chief Registrar Anne Amadi, KWJA's chair Hannah Okwengu and IAWJ's President Susana Medina accompanied him. Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and High Court judges were present besides selected magistrates.

Chief Justice Maraga on his part, said that there is still need to ensure gender parity despite already existing efforts.

He pointed out that the judiciary has an impressive gender composition than other arms of the government.

He also stressed on the need to shun all kinds of barriers to block women from attaining leadership and influential positions.

"It is vital that we promote women's participation in electoral politics and leadership generally, the law has a responsibility to protect the weak and it is my opinion that judiciaries should embrace the principle of responsibility to protect in this regard," said Chief Justice Maraga.

He also pointed out that it is still a sad reality that sexually gender based violence is prevalent in many countries in Africa and has consequently resulted to feminization of poverty.


He also lauded efforts by his predecessor, retired Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, for initiating gender parity within the judiciary.

Currently, out of the 4,326 judiciary employees, 2,032 are women making the ratio of men to women to stand at 53 percent to 47.

As at 2015, there were no female judges in the Appellate Court which now has seven out of the 20. At the High Court, there are 66 women judges and 91 men.

There are also 422 total magistrates, out of which 214 are male while 208 are women.

Countries represented in the conference include Zambia, Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria, Cote D'Ivoire, Benin, Mexico, South Africa, Argentina, Ghana, Trinidad and Tobago as well as Botswana.


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