The newly elected Court of Appeal President Justice William Ouko says clearing of the huge backlog of cases that have plagued the justice system for decades would be his priority.
Justice Ouko, who replaced Justice Kihara Kariuki, was speaking in Mombasa on Wednesday during a retreat for the justices of the Court of Appeal.
He promised that cases on the court list for five years and more would be given priority.
Justice Ouko revealed that the current backlog stands at 1, 607 cases adding that the four day retreat would discuss strategies and mechanisms for the orderly disposal of pending cases.
“Special focus will be on addressing the current case backlog and enhancing the efficiency of court operations,” he said.
Justice Ouko said the Court of Appeal would also be embracing Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) to boost the judicial process.
He said he would follow up on the appointment of additional judges to ease the pressure on the existing four Court stations in Nairobi, Malindi, Kisumu and Nyeri and to provide an opportunity to open new court stations.
Justice Ouko disclosed that the Court of Appeal currently has 19 judges while the required established number is 30.
“As you know, the current Chief Justice David Maraga, his deputy Philomena Mwilu and the newly appointed Attorney General Kariuki Kihara have all come from the Court of Appeal,” he said.
Ouko observed that retiring of judges and reassigning of Court of the Appeal judges has compounded the shortage and underscored the need to address the situation.
The three-day retreat themed: ‘Vision of the Court’ is discussing digitization of the Court, judicial ethics, court management and mediation as well as emerging and conflicting jurisprudence in labour related issues.
The judges from Nairobi, Malindi, Nyeri and Kisumu are among other issues focus on management of Electoral Disputes Resolution appeals process and strategies of clearing case backlog in the court.