What you need to know:
- Discipline is paramount everywhere, but more so at the Judiciary, which sits in judgement of others.
- The threshold for the officers’ conduct is high.
The question about judicial reforms has consumed the public’s mind for years. Remarkable gains have been realised since the enactment of the Constitution in 2010 that fortified the institution, expanded its scope and bolstered its role in the nation’s life.
The creation of the Supreme Court, institutionalising a competitive process of recruitment of judicial officers and giving the institution wider latitude in arbitration of public matters are some of the advances made.
However, challenges still abound. At the heart of the reforms is the desire to enhance administration of justice. What has happened is that some successes have been realised but, deep down, fundamental lapses remain.
Some of these are institutional and administrative and, therefore, not curable merely through constitutional guarantees. Yet they negatively affect the courts’ performance.
Chief Registrar of the Judiciary Anne Amadi has laid bare some of the administrative maladies in court. Away from the political, structural and other extraneous issues, the Judiciary is suffering due to staff misconduct.
Cases abound of corruption, sexual harassment, drunkenness, absenteeism, lateness, insubordination and manipulation of court documents by staff. This explains the cause of the perennial case backlogs, mistrials and misadventures in courts.
Which is not to condemn everyone and the institution wholesale. Most judicial officers are upright and execute their duties with utmost dignity and a high level of professionalism but some are unethical. The latter should be dealt with conclusively.
It is, therefore, encouraging that the Judiciary management has seized itself of the matter and sacked 174 wayward judicial offices in the past three years.
The courage by the judicial officials to expose this rot is, indeed, a step in the right direction. Discipline is paramount everywhere, but more so at the Judiciary, which sits in judgement of others. The threshold for the officers’ conduct is high.
Acting Chief Justice Philemona Mwilu and the entire Judiciary leadership have a gargantuan task of tackling such vices at the institution. Judicial reforms must start with thorough in-house cleansing.