Legal experts seek courts reopening

Friday, May 15th, 2020 00:00 |
Kevin Mogeni.

Kenyans continue to bear the brunt of delayed justice as access to legal services has greatly been hampered by closure of courts occasioned by the spread of Covid-19 in the country.

Legal experts are now calling on the Judiciary to embrace the minimum standard operating procedure, that includes limited number of court users, during this Covid-19 period to avert a looming crisis, two months since open court sessions were declared untenable.

On March 15, the National Council of the Administration of Justice resolved to scale down operations in the entire justice sector in order to reduce physical interaction with public during open court sessions.

This prompted the Judiciary to upscale justice delivery through increased use of technology, but according to Kevin Mogeni, the national chairman of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), only a small fraction of Kenyans are able to be served at the moment.

Speaking on K24’s (our sister station) Daily Brief, Mogeni said he is concerned that continued closure of courts was denying Kenyans access to justice and entrenching violation of the Constitution and corruption.

“Why can’t the courts at this time introduce minimum operating standards so that we can observe social distancing as the public is served ... it is evident that there are challenges in delivering online judgements,” he said.

Make pleas

This comes as it emerges that prisons are getting judgements through third parties.

“The situation has locked people from making pleas directly to the courts, a principal which courts have ignored,” he said. 

Kituo Cha Sheria national chairman, Justus Munyithyia who also spoke on K24’s Daily Brief, said Judiciary needs to establish temporary structures in remote areas where technology is a challenge to ensure justice is served to the public as they observe social distancing.

Coast region Law Society of Kenya (LSK) chairman Mathew Nyabena, warned that the Judiciary might be caught up in a crisis of case backlog that will take years to handle. 

“The position of the LSK is that we ask the Judiciary to consider the minimum operating procedure to deliver justice to Kenyans as we observe social distancing and also reduce cases backlog,” he said.

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