NAKURU, Kenya May 10 – Chief Justice Martha Koome has urged actors in the justice sector to foster rights-based access to justice as she opened the 2nd National Conference on Criminal Justice Reforms.
Koome reiterated the Judiciary’s commitment to enhancing human rights in the criminal justice sector by widening the doorways of justice using Alternative Justice Systems (AJS).
She said AJS was a key component of community-driven justice and a major aid in decongesting prisons and case backlogs in the courts.
Speaking in Naivasha during the start of the three-day conference, the Chief Justice said AJS reflected the realities of people on the ground which was faster and more accessible.
She said the use of non-State justice systems such as councils of elders, extended family members, nyumba kumi, and religious institutions provided a different and sometimes more effective way to enhance access to justice.
“This year’s theme is “Towards a Rights-Based Criminal Justice Sector” and this conference aims at advancing the conversation concerning enhancing human rights in the criminal justice sector,” she said.
CJ Koome who was joined by Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission chairman, Wafula Chebukati and Director of Public Prosecutions, Noordin Haji among other senior officials said the conference allowed sharing of unique experiences and best practices.
The conference was organized by the National Council on the Administration of Justice (NCAJ), which she chairs, and its partners.
She said stakeholders who included different government departments and independent commissions such as the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, National Cohesion and Integration Commission and IEBC had a chance to interact and reflecting on challenges impeding efficient service delivery.
“Through this annual conference, the different arms can collaboratively generate workable solutions,” said the CJ.
She added that the Judiciary had made great strides by establishing a specialized Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Court at the Shanzu Law Courts in Mombasa, with plans for roll out to other parts of the country in the near future.
“The Judiciary has engaged scientists and experienced legal and medical professionals to conduct a gap analysis study to inform key policy directives aimed at ensuring that sexual and gender-based violence cases are handled in the most efficient way possible,” said Koome.
On the forthcoming elections, the CJ said there was need to engage on issues concerning promoting accountability for electoral offences to ensure free, fair, and credible elections.
She added that duty bearers should promote and protect Human Rights during the whole process and ensure that offenders are brought to book.
“The concerned commissions, security arms and the Judiciary will discuss the elections because they are responsible for the core Agencies mandated to support the delivery of free, fair, and credible elections,” said CJ Koome.