Kenya: CJ Warns of Consequences for Ignoring Court Orders

Chief Justice David Maraga speaks at the Supreme Court (file photo).
7 February 2018

Nairobi — Chief Justice David Maraga on Wednesday broke his silence on the Executive's display of contempt for court orders in the last one week.

Maraga, through his statement, sought to remind government officials and institutions that they are duty-bound to see to the enforcement of court orders.

Where aggrieved, he impressed upon them that there are legal avenues through which they can seek redress.

"Compliance with court orders is not an option for any individual or institution. Neither is it a favour to be doled out to the Judiciary," his statement to the press read.

And where court orders are not complied with, Maraga felt it necessary to add, judicial officers are empowered to penalise the offending parties.

"Judges and magistrates are at liberty to invoke the legal avenues available to enforce those orders."

The thrust of his statement being that constitutional order, without exception, must be safeguarded. "As Chief Justice I want to assure the country that the Judiciary will continue to dispense its constitutional duty with independence and authority."

In the last one week the Executive, in defiance of the court's explicit instructions, has refused to allow back on-air Citizen TV and its sister station Inooro.

It also allowed KTN News, and NTV back on air, days after the courts required them to do so.

In the case of Miguna Miguna, he remained in police custody days after the High Court sanctioned his release.

The Executive's disregard of these orders has earned it the ire of the Ombudsman and the Law Society of Kenya who have expressed fear that it only serves to engender lawlessness.

"We have witnessed the State act in flagrant disobedience of court orders for the restitution of broadcast services and even now the State has acted only in partial compliance therewith. By doing so it is violating the Constitution and exhibiting the characteristics of a dictatorship. Do not lead us into anarchy," Okero told reporters outside the Kisumu Law Courts on Tuesday," the LSK President Isaac Okero told reporters outside the Kisumu Law Courts on Tuesday.

The government's disregard of court orders has also raised concern beyond Kenya's borders with the United Nations and European Union cautioning the Executive against undermining the authority of the courts.

"Do not lead us into anarchy," Okero pleaded with the Executive on Tuesday.

It is not the first time the Chief Justice has had to defend the authority and sovereignty of the courts.

Following the Supreme Court's annulment of his August 8 presidential election victory, President Kenyatta led an onslaught on the Judiciary; warning that he would 'streamline' the Judiciary on regaining power.

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