Kenya: Omtatah in Court to Compel President Kenyatta to Submit Names of 41 Judges to Parliament

Nairobi — Human rights activist Okiya Omtatah now wants President Uhuru Kenyatta compelled to submit the names of 41 judges to Parliament for approval.

In an urgent suit filed at the Employment and Labour Relations Court, Omtatah wants the latter to determine whether nominee's for appointment as judges should be presented to the August House for vetting before the President can appoint them.

According to Omtatah, the High Court acted in vain by declaring that President Kenyatta has no power to review or reject names forwarded to him by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).

This, he says, is because it has no jurisdiction to resolve Labour disputes under the Constitution.

He argues that judges as public employees, all disputes with regard to their employment ought to be determined by the Labour Court.

"The jurisdiction over all employment disputes including that of judges lies with the Labour Court and not the High Court" he states.

Under Article 132 (2) of the Constitution, the President , Omtatah claims, shall with the approval of National Assembly appoint or dismiss a State or Public officer whom the Constitution requires to empower or dismiss.

There has been a tug of war between President Kenyatta and Chief Justice David Maraga who forwarded the names of the judges.

In declining to make the appointments, President Kenyatta is said to have relied on advise from the National Intelligence Service (NIS), which faulted some of the judges as having integrity issues.

But Maraga argues that the President has no authority, in law, to fail to appoint the judges as recommended by JSC. Maraga says failure to appoint the judges is to blame for stalled cases in court.

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