Chief Justice Martha Koome has today launched the second specialized Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) Court in Siaya County. This becomes the second SGBV court after Shanzu in Mombasa.
While speaking at an event to inaugurate the new Siaya Law Courts building that will also house the SGBV Court and a Small Claims Court, CJ Koome observed that ‘’We are not merely unveiling a building made of brick and mortar. Instead, we are unveiling a beacon of hope, a symbol of justice, and a testament to our unwavering commitment to bring the justice system closer to our people.”
While designating the Siaya SGBV Court, the Chief Justice noted that justice is not homogenous but instead must be tailored to meet the unique needs of different members of our society, especially the most vulnerable. ‘’Today we make a significant stride in addressing one of our society’s most daunting challenges – Sexual and Gender-Based Violence. A clear demonstration of our unwavering commitment to eradicate such atrocities from our society.’’
She noted that SGBV court forms part of the new strategies under her Social Transformation through Access to Justice Vision ‘’to dismantle formal, informal, and systemic barriers that prevent victims of sexual and gender-based violence from accessing justice and to protect the vulnerable.’’
During the function, CJ Koome also designated a Small Claims Court in Siaya noting that “the pillar of any thriving economy is the ease and swiftness with which commercial disputes are resolved.” She referred to the court that deals with matters of value below Ksh. 1 Million as “a critical cog in our drive to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive and to spur economic growth in Siaya County and beyond.’’
Governor of Siaya County, James Orengo, who is also a Senior Counsel called on the Judiciary to remain independent and ensure there is no clawback on the gains made so far. “We should never lose the battle for a free and independent Judiciary. It cost many lives to get here.” Adding that an independent Judiciary fosters peace and secures the workings of all other institutions.
Siaya County’s First Lady, Betty Murungi Orengo, lauded the establishment of the SGBV Court in Siaya saying it is in harmony with ‘’the County’s plans to establish shelters to take care of victims of sexual and gender-based violence and provide victim-friendly services.’’
Lady Justice Agnes Murgor, who is the President of the International Association of Women Judges, Kenya Chapter said sexual and gender-based violence has escalated to pandemic proportions noting that “An effective SGBV Court will be deterrent to the continued increase in violence against women and children.”
The Chief Registrar of the Judiciary, Anne Amadi observed that Siaya is the birthplace of many leading lawyers. She counted 20 eminent jurists including Argwings-Kodhek who was the first East African to be admitted to practice law in Kenya and Chief Justice Emeritus Bernard Chunga.
In the Judiciary, those who hail from the County include Justice William Ouko of the Supreme Court, Justice George Odunga of the Court of Appeal, Justice Eric Ogola, Principal Judge of the High Court, and the Chief Registrar of the Judiciary, Anne Amadi.