Youth left out of search for new Chief Justice, Lobby charges

Written By: Eric Biegon

A premier youth-led organization has launched criticism into the manner in which the search for a replacement of Retired Chief Justice David Kenani Maraga has been handled.

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The Youth Congress says important segments of the population have been sidelined in the all-important process.

Specifically, the lobby claims that the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) is yet to consult the youth even the exercise is approaching the penultimate stage.

“Meaningful public participation in the recruitment of Chief Justice, Judges and Judicial reforms is critically important. Drafters of the constitution had in mind an approach where people would provide input in decisions affecting their lives.” The lobby said in a statement sent to newsrooms Sunday.

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The initiative, under the leadership of Raphael Obonyo, reiterates that every citizen’s involvement in the process is guaranteed by the country’s supreme law, noting that this is a significant component in ensuring every step taken is above reproach.

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It is for this reason that Obonyo wants JSC to put in place an elaborate mechanism for engagement with the public including youth.

“Kenya is a youthful country. Kenyans aged between 15- and 34-years form about 36 percent of the total population…. There is a need to tap youth creativity, fresh ideas, and energies to make progress.” Obonyo remarked

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According to Obonyo, opportunities for collaboration between young people and the institutions superintending the corridors of justice have been missing, and wants JSC to establish platforms facilitating them.

“We propose a caucus between the Judiciary and the youth to accelerate judicial reforms. The Chief Justice Caucus should be part of the dialogue initiative and ongoing efforts to improve judicial capability and to strengthen links between the Judiciary and the citizens.” He said

He adds that “when the citizens including the youth go beyond being spectators in the judicial reform process, then the reforms become more sustainable.”

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Yet in order to enhance young people’s trust in the Judiciary and the judicial process, the Youth Congress Executive Director insists that their effective engagement is not optional.

While appreciating the ongoing judicial reforms, Obonyo is of the opinion that the process is not moving as fast as anticipated by the majority of Kenyans.

“Youth seek a judicial system that promotes the rule of law and protects young people’s civil, political, social and economic rights.” He said

Obonyo says the person who will take over from Maraga must work to restore full confidence of the public in the Judiciary.

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