NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 7 – The National Council on Administration of Justice (NCAJ) is set for an overhaul after the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) approved a new secretariat structure.
Chief Justice David Maraga said on Thursday the new secretariat will be headed by an Executive Director to be enlisted soon in a move meant to “build the capacity of the secretariat to reflect the role and mandate of the council.”
“The Judiciary undertook an organizational review including structures of the NCAJ secretariat. The JSC has approved this structure and further approved the hiring of a substantive Executive Director of the NCAJ and key secretariat officials,” the CJ announced.
In his opening remarks at the 20th NCAJ in Naivasha, Maraga said the strengthened secretariat will enhance the delivery of the council’s mandate which includes formulating and implementing reforms in the justice sector.
He said the multi-agency council will spearhead key reforms that will enhance efficiency in the ongoing war against corruption.
“It is my singular believe that challenges facing the justice sector can only be addressed when we come up with practical solutions on how to address the challenges we face,” the CJ underscored.
Maraga urged the council consisting of 11 State actors including the State Law Office, National Police Service, and the Prisons Service to work closely in a bid to enhance efficiency in the justice sector.
While noting improvements particularly in commercial courts that in 2017 catapulted the country 12 places up in Ease of Doing Business rankings, Maraga said the Judiciary will do more to consolidate the gains.
Kenya’s Ease of Doing Business ranking rose significantly to position 80, the determination of some 93 cases pending at the Commercial Division of the High Court alone facilitating the release of Sh1.1 billion, tied up in litigation, to the economy.
“This is partly attributable to some of the reforms including the fact that we’ve embraced alternative dispute resolution. However, this progress is threatened by lack of effective collaboration in the sector,” Maraga cautioned.
“Perennial challenges such as delays in the hearing of cases are creeping back and my serve to reduce investor confidence,” he warned.
Attorney General Kihara Kariuki, Police Inspector General Joseph Boinnet, Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti, his public prosecutions counterpart Noordin Haji, and Chief Executive Officer of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission Twalib Mbarak were among those attending the meeting in Naivasha.
The meeting convened to discuss challenges impeding the ongoing anti-corruption purge came a week after the Judiciary announced the roll out of an ambitious case management scheme that will see corruption-related matters concluded within five months at most.
Responding to Capital FM News on new measures adopted during a meeting he held with the country’s top judges on Friday last week, Maraga said most graft cases will be concluded within three to five months based on cooperation by prosecutors and other parties involved.
“There was a request whether or not these cases should not be given a timeline like six months. I’ve sat with those magistrates and we’ve assessed the kind of cases we have,” he said.
“Some (cases) with the cooperation of all the partners can be finished in three months, others can take four to five months but others with huge documents will take a little longer,” the CJ elaborated.
Other measures adopted during the meeting attended by among others Court of Appeal President Justice William Ouko and High Court Principal Judge Justice Lydia Achode included extended working hours for magistrates and judges in anti-corruption divisions.
Justice Ouko said CJ Maraga had already mandated judicial officers to expedite hearing of corruption cases by extending working hours whenever necessary.
“The Chief Justice has given written mandate to all the magistrates in the anti-corruption court to sit beyond normal court hours in order to fast-track the cases. All magistrates in anti-corruption court will undergo sensitization and training in Active Case Management techniques,” a communiqué read by the head of the Court of Appeal outlined.
Maraga also reshuffled top judges on Monday, naming Justice Weldon Korir Presiding Judge of the Constitutional and Human Rights Division of the High Court in Milimani.
Korir who was prior to the reassignment High Court judge in Malindi took over from Justice Chacha Mwita.
Mwita’s colleague in the Constitutional and Human Rights Division Lady Justice Wilfred Okwany was transferred to the Commercial and Tax Division of the High Court, Justice Aron Makau moving from the Commercial and Tax Division to the Constitutional and Human Rights Division.
Justice Reuben Nyakundi was moved from the High Court in Kajiado to Malindi, with Justice Mwita moved to Kajiado to take up Justice Nyakundi’s place.