What you need to know:
- Chief Justice David Maraga, while opening the modern Isiolo court building on Friday, announced that the judges will be provided with space at the facility to attend to matters pending before the Nyeri court.
- Mr Maraga, who was accompanied by Judiciary Chief Registrar Anne Amadi and Meru Presiding Judge Alfred Mabeya, also directed courts to ensure cases are finalised in as little time as possible so that justice is not delayed.
Isiolo County’s residents will no longer travel to Nyeri to track their cases before the Court of Appeal as the judges will visit to hear the matters locally.
Chief Justice David Maraga, while opening the modern Isiolo court building on Friday, announced that the judges will be provided with space at the facility to attend to matters pending before the Nyeri court.
“[This will] ensure residents do not incur expenses traveling to Nyeri and Nairobi for the services,” Mr Maraga said.
He added that plans were underway to establish at least one magistrate’s court in all sub-county headquarters in the country to ensure Kenyans access court services with ease.
High courts will also be built in the five counties without them.
Mr Maraga, who was accompanied by Judiciary Chief Registrar Anne Amadi and Meru Presiding Judge Alfred Mabeya, also directed courts to ensure cases are finalised in as little time as possible so that justice is not delayed.
He said the Judiciary, though facing financial constraints, had, by December 2018, managed to conclude 135,000 of the 170, 0 cases that had taken longer than five years.
“Only 35,000 cases are remaining. We would have completed them were it not for financial constraints,” he said after unveiling the building’s plaque.
The Supreme Court president also hailed Isiolo elders involved in the Alternative Justice System for emerging the best countrywide and noted the need to replicate the system in other counties.
Mr Maraga gave the elders five motorcycles donated by the Legal Resources Foundation to help ease their movement as they help with the administration of justice in remote areas.
The AJS has helped with the speedy conclusion of local cases especially those that are civil in nature.
Mr Maraga asked the public to consider settling petty and civil cases by involving elders as this reduces the backlog in the courts.
“About 90 per cent of disputes do not reach the courts so there is a need for Kenyans to embrace alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, which is recognised in the Constitution,” he said.
The modern Isiolo court building has eight courtrooms, 12 chambers and High Court sub-registry offices.
The CJ also announced that Meru land judges will visit Isiolo to hear cases and directed the transfer of all such cases from Meru to Isiolo ahead of the deployment of permanent judges.
He said, however, that the deployment of a judge to handle rampant land cases in Isiolo will depend on how fast President Uhuru Kenyatta approves the appointment of 41 judges.
Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dullo appealed to the Head of State to expedite this, noting the cases are alarming and need quick interventions.
“Land cases have been taking too long to conclude so the deployment of a judge to Isiolo will help in their quick determination,” Ms Dullo said, and called for a higher budget for the Judiciary.
While noting the existence of many land grabbing cases, National Council of Elders chair Phares Rutere said the quick resolution of the disputes will promote peace.
Isiolo North MP Hassan Odha said residents in the far-flung Garbatulla and Merti areas struggle to access justice due to lack of magistrate’s courts.
“They have been traveling to Meru for the services and cover over 250 kilometres to Isiolo town, where there is a magistrate’s court,” he said.
The Isiolo magistrate’s court, under Chief Magistrate Samuel Mungai's leadership, was praised for hearing cases online in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
CJ Maraga said a magistrate will be sent to Garbatulla to help with the administration of justice and that mobile courts will continue to operate in Merti Sub-county.
The court officers will be provided with a vehicle to ease their movement in Garbatulla and Merti, he added.
Regarding the 41 judges, he said 20 were handling land cases and that one of them had been assigned to Isiolo.