Six Kenyan Judges currently serving on the bench, were recently denied appointment to higher courts by the President. The Kenya Magistrates and Judges Association calls this ‘shocking turn of events’ in a recent statement ‘baffling, unfounded and patently unconstitutional’.
Judges for Judges, the Commonwealth Magistrates’ and Judges’ Association (CMJA), the Commonwealth Legal Education Association (CLEA) and the Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA) urge the Kenyan President to respect both domestic law and international applicable standards in the appointment of judges, to ensure the independence of the judiciary: cornerstone of the rule of law.
The President of Kenya has rejected six out of forty Judges recommended for appointment by the Judicial Services Commission, because they allegedly did not meet the required threshold for appointment into the country’s superior courts. There has been wide condemnation of this move, since it is seen as politically motivated to subvert the independence of the judiciary and the role of the Judicial Services Commission.
The President initially delayed the appointments for nearly two years due to ‘integrity concerns’ about certain nominees, without providing any further information on what these issues were to the then Chief Justice or the Judicial Services Commission.
The six rejected were Justices Korir, Muchelule, Ngugi and George Odunga (Court of Appeal), Ochehe Harisson (Employment and Labour Relations Court), Evans Makori, and Judith Omange (Environmental and Land Court).
It should be noted that two Justices were part of the High Court bench of five judges who recently rejected provisions in the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Bill, put forward by the President and which would have altered the basic structure of the constitution. Whilst the President claimed he was asking for these on behalf of the people, the constitutional amendments proposed in the bill have been seen as increasing the powers of the Presidency and that of the government unjustifiably.
Judges for Judges and the three Commonwealth Legal Associations urge the President of Kenya to comply with the recommendations of the Judicial Service Commission and thereby to respect the authority of the judiciary and of court orders in line with the Kenyan constitution and with Kenya’s international obligations. The Kenya Magistrates and Judges Association calls upon the President to immediately gazette the six that were left out.
The statements can be downloaded in full by clicking on these links: