Chief Justice Martha Koome has taken a stand to address the growing criticism directed at the Judiciary, particularly following accusations of corruption and deliberate interference in government projects, notably voiced by President William Ruto.
The Chief Justice’s response, outlined in an internal memo and a subsequent public statement, sheds light on the challenges faced by the Judiciary and emphasizes the importance of upholding the rule of law.
CJ Koome, in the internal memo addressed to judges and Judiciary staff, condemned recent remarks that touched on matters currently under deliberation in court.
She expressed concern that such comments could serve to intimidate judges and influence the outcome of court rulings. Emphasizing the need for judges to carry out their duties in accordance with the law and without any undue influence, Koome assured them that the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) would protect their independence.
The Chief Justice pointed out that challenging a court decision should be done through proper legal channels, such as appealing or seeking review in a higher court.
She underlined the fact that attacks on judges and judicial officers, especially on matters pending before any court, violate the sub judice imperative, which is a foundational national value and principle.
Koome stated, “Such attacks or comments when made on matters which are pending before any court also violate the sub judice imperative which is a rule of law derivative and therefore a foundational national value and principle of our nation, as stated in Article 10 of the Constitution.”
The CJ also addressed President Ruto’s allegations of corruption within the Judiciary. Koome urged that such allegations should be presented to the JSC and not discussed in public events.
She pledged to engage with the Executive and the Legislature to obtain information on the corruption claims and work towards addressing them through the appropriate channels.
“Declarations of corruption in public events and activities without corresponding procedural reporting mechanisms expose an institution such as the Judiciary to public suspicion and distrust,” she emphasized in the memo.
In a separate public statement released in her capacity as the Chairperson of the JSC, Koome continued to express concern about the vilification of judges who issue orders perceived as unfavorable by the government.
She reminded the public that both the Judiciary and the Executive are equal arms of government, and judges will continue their mandates without fear or favor, regardless of attempts at intimidation.
“The JSC assures all Kenyans that any allegations or complaints of misconduct or corruption by any judge or judicial officer will be dealt with firmly and swiftly in accordance with the Constitution. The JSC has a proven record of taking action against any judicial officer who is found to have breached the Judicial Code of Conduct and Ethics or engaged in corrupt practices,” stated Koome.