Chief Justice Martha Koome Responds to Criticisms, Defends Judicial Independence

In a robust response to recent attacks on the Judiciary, Chief Justice Martha Koome has issued a statement condemning the criticism leveled against the legal arm of the government. Notably, President William Ruto accused the Judiciary of corruption and intentional delays in crucial government projects.

In an internal memo addressed to judges and Judiciary staff, CJ Koome expressed concern over remarks that touch on ongoing court deliberations, emphasizing that such comments could potentially intimidate judges into biased rulings. She urged the judiciary to uphold the law and perform their duties without succumbing to any undue influence, assuring them that the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) would protect their independence.

“My Office and the Judicial Service Commission have made it clear to the other arms of government and the general public that the proper way to challenge a court decision is to appeal or seek review in a higher court,” stated Chief Justice Koome. She emphasized that attacking judges undermines the constitutional order and violates the sub judice imperative, a fundamental national value.

Addressing allegations of corruption within the Judiciary, Koome asserted that such claims should be presented to the JSC rather than discussed in public events. She pledged to engage with the Executive and the Legislature to obtain information on corruption allegations and address them through proper channels.

“When State or public officers threaten to defy court orders, the rule of law is imperiled, setting the stage for anarchy to prevail in a nation,” warned CJ Koome. She highlighted that defying court orders breaches public trust in state and public officers, emphasizing the importance of upholding the Constitution.

In her capacity as the Chairperson of the JSC, Chief Justice Koome released a separate public statement expressing concern about the vilification of judges who issue orders unfavorable to the government. Stressing the equality of the Judiciary and the Executive as two separate arms of government, she affirmed that judges would continue their duties without fear or favor.

“If a citizen obtains a court order against the State and it is deliberately ignored or disobeyed by State officials, the right of access to justice is undermined,” stated the JSC boss. She assured Kenyans that allegations of misconduct or corruption against any judge or judicial officer would be promptly and firmly addressed 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,” Chief Justice Koome concluded in her statement, emphasizing the commitment to maintaining the integrity of the Judiciary.

The statements from Chief Justice Koome reflect a strong defense of the independence and integrity of the Judiciary, urging adherence to legal processes and the rule of law while responding to public criticisms and allegations.


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