Kenyan judges earn praise internationally: “Judges in Ghana told me they want to be like Kenyans”

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Kenyan judges earn praise internationally: “Judges in Ghana told me they want to be like Kenyans”

Judges in Ghana envy their counterparts in Kenya in as far as making judgments and judicial independence are concerned.

According to Prof. Luis G. Franceschi, Assistant Secretary General of the Commonwealth, judges in many countries across the world quote Kenyan judges’ judgments.

Speaking during the Annual Judges’ Colloquium in Mombasa, Prof. Franceschi recalled how a certain forum with Ghana judicial officers saw them singing praise for Kenyans.

“Judges in Ghana were telling me they want to be like Kenya, many countries quote your judgments. You have institutionalized something others don’t have, that is judicial independence,” he said.

Prof. Luis G. Franceschi, Assistant SG of the Commonwealth, speaking during the Annual Judges’ Colloquium in Mombasa County on Wednesday, September 6, 2023.

The Annual Judges’ Colloquium kicked off on Wednesday, September 6 in Mombasa. The event runs through Friday, September 8.

This year’s theme is ‘The Judiciary’s Role in Realizing the Social Transformation Promise of the 2010 Constitution: Looking Back, Holding Ground and Forging Ahead’.

Kenyan judges at Annual Judges’ Colloquium

Supreme Court of Kenya Judge William Ouko (top left) moderates a panel session on The Dynamics of Judicial Independence; Reflections from Africa during the Annual Judges’ Colloquium 2023.
The panelists include, Hon. Justice Othman Mohamed Chande-Chief Justice (Emeritus) of the United Republic of Tanzania, Hon. Justice Andrew Nyirenda-Chief Justice (Emeritus) of the Republic of Malawi and Hon. Justice Moses Chinhengo-Judge, Republic of Zimbabwe.

CJ Koome’s rallying call

During the opening day of the conference, Chief Justice Martha Koome emphasised that the role of judges is not merely to interpret the law, but to infuse it with the spirit of social transformation.

“Let us hold our ground by affirming what we have done right and forge ahead by courageously tackling what remains to be done

“We need to be aware that the litigants we serve are an enlightened lot; scrutinising determinations on every issue and the findings of other courts on the authorities cited,” CJ Koome said.

Koome further said that a country may have a robust legal system, clearly defined laws, and meticulously crafted rules. However, if its not administered with a sense of justice and compassion, it risks becoming an empty shell devoid of purpose and humanity.

On her part, Deputy CJ Philomena Mwilu urged all stakeholders to work towards the realisation of Social Transformation through Access to Justice (STAJ) vision.

Historic ruling

In 2017, the Supreme Court of Kenya entered the history books when it nullified then-President Uhuru Kenyatta’s election win, becoming the first in Africa.

The six-judge bench – led by ex-CJ David Maraga – ruled that the election was not held in strict conformity of the law, ordering a new vote to be held within 60 days.

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