Finally, the Judiciary has come to terms with the reality that it has slowed down the fight against corruption. On Friday, Chief Justice David Maraga convened a meeting of top judges, including presidents of the various judicial divisions, precisely to confront the criticism that the Judiciary is the weakest link in the war against graft. In fact, the challenge goes beyond corruption and encompasses the entire gamut of the administration of justice.
One of the immediate resolutions was posting of additional 10 magistrates to corruption courts to speed up trials. Clearly, that is a good start. It addresses the problem of inadequate capacity which causes delays in prosecution and adjudication of cases. But that is not enough.
We demand far-reaching administrative and judicial interventions to address staff capacity, incompetence, integrity and inefficiencies. First is expanding the corruption courts and staffing them with competent and suitable judicial officers to deal with cases authoritatively and decisively. These courts handle suspects charged with high-level corruption; some are well-connected and extremely wealthy and have the propensity to use cash and influence to get their way. Magistrates and judges handling such cases must be cushioned against extraneous influences.
Second, the Judicial Service Commission should enforce a performance monitoring process to determine speed and quality of judgments. Some magistrates and judges are notorious for adjourning cases at the slightest of excuses but are never punished. That must end. A culture of performance must be enforced. Non-performers and the corrupt should be shown the door. Related to this is entrenching of a judicial philosophy that commits judges and magistrates to fighting wrongs in society. The practice where powerful individuals easily obtain bail orders while the others do not, raises questions about equality before the law.
Moreover, the way some judicial officers handle cases and run their courts point to serious defects in the administration of justice. If the problem is lawyers representing clients, then courts must make a determination of how they should be dealt with. The administration of justice is predicated on strong investigation and prosecution. We have argued before that poor investigation undermines the fight against corruption. Consequently, we challenge the Director of Criminal Investigations to conduct thorough investigations and the Director of Public Prosecutions to distil and prepare concrete evidence. before rushing to courts.
Even so, the CJ must transform the Judiciary and make it a vessel that serves the public and in particular, speed up the war on graft. The Judiciary must play a key facilitative role in curbing graft.