Judiciary budget should be 2.5% of national budget, E. A Chief Justices say

Chief Justices from the East African Community have expressed dissatisfaction over the level of funding extended to the Judiciary by respective governments.  

To be able to execute their constitutional mandates effectively, the heads of judicial arms of state from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and South Sudan are in agreement that the kitty needs to be increased – significantly.

And they are not alone. They have the support of the East African Court of Justice.

“The budget allocation to the judiciaries in the region should be substantially enhanced to allow the judiciary to exercise its mandate in an effective, efficient, and effective manner in all parts of the country.”

“Judiciary budget should be ring-fenced as a fixed percentage of the national budget (2.5%).” They said in a joint communique released at the conclusion of the 6th East Africa Chief Justices Forum held in Mombasa, Kenya.

The demand comes at a time the Kenyan Judiciary has been decrying budget cuts by the National Treasury year after year, as was the case in the 2021/2022 Financial Year. In the Sh3.66tr Budget read in parliament in June by Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani, the Judiciary lost about Ksh800m having been allocated Ksh17.9b which is a decline from Ksh18.1b allocated in the 2020/2021 financial year.

If the proposed 2.5 percent was to be factored in that budget, then it means the Kenyan Judiciary would have taken home a whooping Kshs.91B.

Besides the budget, the top judges emphasized keen observance of separation of powers. Adequate budgetary allocation, in this case, is aimed at ensuring that the Judiciary is free from interference from other quarters.

They stressed that the relationship between the Judiciary, the Legislature, and the Executive both at national and regional levels, must be guided by the principle of robust decisional independence and constructive institutional interdependence.

“The behavioral relationship among these organs of state should be cooperative, not co-optive; complementary not competitive; and supportive, not subversive.” They said

But even as they pushed for increased allocation, the Chief Justices reiterated that all partner states must commit to enhancing the fight against corruption in the courts.

They said corruption undermines the rule of law, despoils the administration of justice, lowers public confidence in the judiciary, undermines investor confidence, and unfairly besmirches all judicial officers.

They said respective Judiciaries should strengthen performance evaluation as a way of enhancing individual and institutional accountability.

Over and above this, they have endavoured to participate in the quest for economic progress and development. To do this, the Chief Justices have promised to oversee the establishment of commerce-friendly courts to facilitate ease of doing business; establish simple systems of dispute resolution including arbitration and mediation; and adopt inexpensive and faster systems of adjudication including Small Claims Courts.

The CJ’s added that in order to foster economic development, stimulate investor confidence; strengthen local innovations and inventions; and attract long term financial flows, the “courts shall be active in enforcing contractual obligations and protecting property rights, and adopting an adjudicative and interpretive stance that promotes the national goal of creating a favorable investment climate for both foreign investors and domestic entrepreneurs.”

  

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