It is now obvious that the Judiciary is under attack by individuals and institutions who feel the ongoing reforms have gone too far and now threaten their political and business interests.
The delays in vetting magistrates and judges is one instance. The Judiciary is also under siege from people who fear what the reforms might unearth, as well as politicians who might find themselves locked out of the elections due to integrity issues.
Some matters are in court and so cannot be dwelt on here, but the tone and trend of the attacks on the Supreme Court do not augur well for an institution already identified as a pillar in the ongoing implementation of the Constitution, and which will deal with election disputes if any after the polls on March 4 next year.
A section of MPs and lawyers are clearly fighting for a constituency associated with impunity and responsible for the rot that has denied many a Kenyan justice in the courts. The latter are watching and what they have seen is the ugly face of corruption fighting back; it is not a pretty sight.
Matters in court
At the heart of the campaign is Chapter Six of the Constitution on Leadership and Integrity. The fact that there is a matter in the courts whose outcome might affect the voting patterns of the General Election with regard to the presidential ballot.
When powerful people wish to escape being accountable for their personal conduct and lack of moral probity, they will use any means to achieve their aim.
The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission is rudderless at the moment, leaving the Judiciary as the only guardian of the Integrity chapter of the new Constitution.
The attacks on the head of the Supreme Court and the Judiciary are following a pattern that indicates some politicians and a section of the legal profession are keen on sabotaging the judicial reforms, or forcing them to take a path that they feel will not harm their interests.
In order to understand why the Judiciary is under attack, one has to appreciate its role in the new dispensation, and why it was singled out in both the Justice Philip Waki-led commission of inquiry into the 2008 post-election clashes and the Agenda 4 of the National Accord and Reconciliation Act.
Article 163 (3) (a) of the Constitution states: “The Supreme Court shall have exclusive original jurisdiction to hear and determine disputes relating to the elections to the office of President.”
Article 168 (1) states, among other things that a Supreme Court judge may be removed from office breach of a code of conduct prescribed for judges of the superior courts, incompetence, gross misconduct or misbehaviour.
Is there a plan to force the hand of the Judicial Service Commission to initiate removal of the Chief Justice by way of a petition using “engineered” evidence?
The leader of the African Union Panel of Eminent Persons, Dr Kofi Annan made a special point of meeting with the Chief Justice and other senior officials of the Judiciary to commend them on their work and give them much needed encouragement.
Safety of judges
Appearing on a morning television talk show, the CJ faced a barrage of hostile questioning that clearly did little to enlighten Kenyans on the challenges of judicial reform. But he did say that effect of the ongoing reforms in the Judiciary will be felt in 10 years. For now what has been done is to lay the building blocks that will hold the foundation of the reform agenda.
When this country was on the verge of civil war in 2008 over the bungled presidential ballot, the Judiciary was the one institution that should have saved lives and restored sanity.
It did not, and could not, because it lacked credibility. It was perceived to be non-independent and politically aligned to the incumbent Executive.
The ongoing reforms in the Judiciary are meant to raise confidence levels in the institution as the final port of call in the event of any election dispute.
Evidently this is not what certain political camps want, and the only way to undermine the cleanup effort is to target individual members of the bench and discredit them. They will stop at nothing to intimidate the bench and its leadership.
We are therefore concerned about the safety of all judges and magistrates, including those who have not undergone vetting
** New Addition by Blog-Admin – Judges Vetting Ruling **
** Addition below by Blog-Admin – Mumo Matemu Ruling **