Chief Justice Martha Koome wants six remaining counties to get High Court stations to ensure continued social transformation through access to justice.
CJ Koome told members of the Council of Governors led by the Chairman Martin Wambora that members of the public were on some instances forced to walk hundreds of kilometres to access courts in some parts of the country.
The counties lacking High Courts are Nyandarua, Samburu, Lamu, Wajir, Mandera and Elgeyo Marakwet, and Nandi according to Wambora, who confirmed the counties were willing to provide land for the court buildings.
The Chief Justice who met with members of the CoG in Nairobi Monday afternoon, explained that the Judiciary has been undertaking reforms to improve institutional organisation and delivery of services over the past 10 years.
“These reforms consist of the introduction of active case management, mediation programs, improved courtroom information technology, public awareness campaigns and continuing judicial education. My intention is to further empower the doorways of Justice with support from connected stakeholders,” the CJ said.
CJ Koome encouraged counties to invest in Alternative Dispute Resolution centres to allow for resolution of cases using alternative means as well as child protection centres to protect the rights of the vulnerable.
She siad that County Governments are essential pillars of equality, inclusion, participation, deliberative governance, accountability, diversity, unity and transformative social governance.
“Article 174 of the Constitution enlivens the Objects of Devolution which if powered by a culture of collaboration as instructed by Article 6 becomes a powerful tool for social change and progression,” she told the meeting.
The CJ made it clear that justice was a shared responsibility that is buttressed by Article 6 of the Constitution, which provides for Devolution and Access to Services in Kenya.
“It commands that government entities in the National and County Governments must conduct their mutual relations based on consultation and Cooperation.”
Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi proposed leasing of buildings for courtrooms, saying construction is expensive. “Why don’t you lease? You don’t have to own land, and can pay rent.” Kiraitu suggested.
The meeting discussed appropriation and court fees emanating from county legislation, construction of courts and the role of counties in the Court Users Committees (CuCs), with CJ Koome proposing that counties should act as secretaries of the CUCs.
The meeting was attended by Governors James Ongwae (Deputy Chair, CoG) and Francis Kimemia of Nyandarua.
Chief Judiciary Registrar Anne Amadi and CoG acting Chief Executive Mary Mwiti were also present.