Kenya

Corruption-busting strategy tested in Kenya court

CONSTITUTIONAL limits on how to deal with corruption – said to be Kenya’s Public Enemy Number One – have been taxing Nairobi judge, Byram Ongaya, after local activist Okiya Omtatah Okoiti challenged new moves to vet public servants.

WAS the Madaraka Day speech by Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, declaring a new wave of corruption investigations among the country’s civil servants an attempt to rule by “presidential fiat”? Was that 1 June 2018 national holiday address a mere “roadside declaration”, and an improper way of running the public service? Firebrand Kenyan activist, Okiya Omtatah Okoiti believed so, particularly when the speech was followed up by a circular from the head of his country’s public service, Joseph Kinyua, announcing a wide-ranging lifestyle audit of top civil servants.

Kenya: Judicial Service Commission demands recusal of Supreme Court justices

IN an extraordinary move, Kenya’s judicial service commission has tried to persuade virtually all of that country’s top judges, from the chief justice down, to recuse themselves from hearing a matter involving the JSC. The commission argued that as this would disqualify the supreme court from hearing the matter, the decision of the lower court should stand as the final word.

THIS is the latest episode in a long-running dispute between Gladys Shollei and Kenya’s Judicial Service Commission. However, what might have started as a straightforward appeal became something quite different with an application by the JSC that virtually all the supreme court judges recuse themselves from considering the matter.

“Tainted” judicial history remembered in new Kenya judgement

WITH a reminder of what has at times been the unsavoury past of Kenya’s judiciary, the constitutional court has declined to intervene in the dismissal of a number of magistrates who served during the pre-constitutional era. As Carmel Rickard explains, the Kenyan courts are barred by an ouster clause from considering such dismissals. In this case the court deferred to the provision, at the same time spelling out the ouster’s limits and ensuring that in the case before it those limits were not transgressed.

THE timing of this judgment is particularly significant. It comes as tension builds between Kenya’s judiciary and other arms of government over judges’ powers to consider the meaning and application of statutes and to act when there are breaches of the constitution. Just a few days ago, for example, some MPs said judges should stop their “constant meddling” in the affairs of the legislature.

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