By ABDULHAKIM SHERMAN
The Judiciary will not be intimidated by the continued attacks and judges are prepared to pay the ultimate price to protect the Constitution and the rule of law, Chief Justice David Maraga, has said.
Justice Maraga said, individual judges, particularly of the Supreme Court, as well as other judicial officers and staff, have been attacked, threatened and negatively profiled on social media.
“Senior political leaders have also threatened the Judiciary promising ‘to cut it down to size’ and ‘teach us a lesson’,” he said during a press conference.
He said these attacks were denigrating, demeaning and degrading and are meant to intimidate, threaten and cow the institution and individual judges.
“The Judiciary is an arm of Government equal to the Executive and the Legislature. If leaders are tired of having a strong and independent judiciary, they should call a referendum and abolish it altogether,” he said.
The CJ said before that happens, the Judiciary will continue to discharge its mandate in accordance with the Constitution and individual oaths of office.
“Such acts are not only unlawful but also savage in nature,” Justice Maraga who read a statement on behalf of the Judicial Service Commission observed.
CJ Maraga said the Judiciary has not and will never seek to direct the other arms about how to perform their functions.
“In the same vein, we will not allow anybody to dictate to us how to discharge our mandate as given by the people of Kenya under the Constitution. We want to state that the rule of law must be allowed to prevail at all times,” he warned.
The JSC condemned what it termed as mindless acts of aggression against the Judiciary and reiterated that if anything happens to the individual judges, staff or their families, those making inciting statements will be personally held responsible.
“JSC notes with dismay that the Inspector-General of Police, who is expected to provide security to all Government facilities, has repeatedly ignored calls to act, exposing Judicial officers, property and litigants to danger,” he said.
The CJ asked Kenyans of goodwill to stand up for the independence of the Judiciary and the rule of law.
“On our part, we are prepared to pay the ultimate price to protect the Constitution and the rule of law,” he noted.
Justice Maraga said all sovereign power belongs to the people and the Judiciary will therefore never agree to work in accordance with the whims and desires of the executive and Parliament.
“The Judiciary as currently constituted cannot and shall not guarantee a particular outcome to any individual,” he said.
The CJ said that four weeks ago, the JSC had addressed Kenyans through a press conference on the increasing incidence of attacks by various groups of people who were given to making threats and demands intended to interfere with the work of the Judiciary.
“Since the Supreme Court delivered the judgement on the 2017 Presidential Election Petition on September 1, 2017, these attacks have become even more aggressive, culminating in lengthy uninterrupted demonstrations right outside the Supreme Court Building yesterday and today,” he added.
The JSC said whereas it recognises and respect the rights of citizens to picket as provided in the Constitution, the demonstrations targeting the Judiciary bordered on violence and are clearly intended to intimidate the Judiciary and individual judges.
Justice Maraga said even petitioners in the just concluded August 8, General Election are being targeted.
“Yesterday in Kirinyaga County, Hon. Martha Karua was blocked by demonstrators from accessing the Kerugoya Law Courts for the hearing of her own petition. This amounts to intimidation of petitioners and should never be allowed to happen,” he said.
He observed that it is notable and worrying that these attacks are occurring at a time when the Judiciary is starting to hear the 339 petitions already filed in various courts.
The JSC said it supported the independence of the Judiciary as an institution as well as the independence of every Judge, Magistrate or Kadhi.
“We urge all judicial officers to proceed with their work in accordance with their constitutional mandate without any fear, favour or bias and in accordance with the responsibility accorded us by the people of Kenya,” the CJ said.
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