Chief Justice Martha Koome has commended courts and counties that are working towards ensuring citizens get easy access to justice through the Alternative Justice System (AJS) in Court Annexed Mediation whereby people sit down as families and relations to solve disputes amicably.
He singled out the great working relationship between the Eldoret Law Courts and the Uasin Gishu County Government for the efforts made in this regard.
Koome pointed out that Justice is not a stand-alone service and is no longer a preserve of the judiciary and lawyers but also for the county and national governments and the people at the grassroots.
She AJS has done a lot in terms of delivering justice and through it, people are empowered to know and claim their rights and how to solve their own problems, because they know how those problems came about, especially with family matters.
“Most of the backlog we are having (in courts) is in succession. A father died, uncle, mother, and other family members disagreed; we as members of the same family should sit down and solve the issues, I have never understood why a brother and sister or a mother and children would take each other to court, it is not right,” said the Chief Justice
She said that through the AJS, the Judiciary is trying to build unity in the families and communities when they encourage people to sit down and reason with one another.
“My appeal to families is to have harmony, create peace, create understanding in the family because when they take each other to court that really shows that members of the family are not talking to one another. That is what is translated into disharmony in the community,” Koome appealed
The CJ reiterated the need to include the youth and never leave them behind because they are key stakeholders as partakers of justice and fairness.
To promote access to justice, she regretted that Uasin Gishu being huge had only one court forcing people to travel long distances to access justice adding that sometimes they fail to get the justice they deserve.
She assured the residents of the construction of magistrate courts in Turbo and Moiben Sub counties.
“The report I got is that Uasin Gishu, a huge county with many resources, had only one court here in Eldoret, people traverse long distances to come here in order to access justice. Justice is like any other service, no one should be subjected to the indignity of traveling distances and even sometimes they do not get the justice they deserve,” alluded the CJ.
The CJ thanked the leadership of Eldoret law courts working with the county government to come up with a plan to devolve judicial services. In addition, she thanked the county administration for their support in providing the necessary infrastructure.
CJ Koome noted that magistrate courts in Turbo and Moiben will oversee the Alternative Justice System through court-annexed mediation where people are encouraged to talk and solve their own problems especially family cases in succession, land matters, and when they enter into an agreement brought to court where it is adopted as the judgment of the court.
She revealed that they have presented to parliament all the 290 constituencies with areas where there’s a need to open a magistrate court.
Uasin Gishu Governor Jonathan Chelilim acknowledged the CJ’s efforts in ensuring justice is accessed by the residents of Uasin Gishu, noting that the county has many cases dealing with land and that through AJS, the people will be able to get justice on time instead of waiting for a long time due to backlogs in court.
He affirmed his administration’s commitment to work together with the judiciary through the provision of the necessary infrastructure to enhance easy access to justice by the people.