• May 23, 2024
  • Last Update May 23, 2024 12:57 AM
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CJ Koome Instructs Magistrates’ Courts to Clear Cases Pending for Over 3 Years

CJ Koome Instructs Magistrates’ Courts to Clear Cases Pending for Over 3 Years

Kisii,

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

KNA by Mercy Osongo

Chief Justice (CJ) Martha Koome has directed magistrates’ courts countrywide to finalize cases that have been pending for over three years.

Speaking virtually during the delivery of her keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the 11th Annual Heads of Station Forum held at a hotel in Kisii County, Koome urged the courts to prioritize active case and docket management strategies to reduce case backlog.

The CJ noted the digital-ready courts and uptake of ICT were vital for streamlining processes and providing more access to justice and underscored the need of generating reliable justice data, which is a key pillar of informed policymaking.

“Robust data will guide our strategies and ensure our initiatives have the intended impact. Therefore, we are using technology to enhance accountability of our processes and get reliable performance data that will ensure informed and evidence-based decision making,” she said.

This year’s magistrates’ forum is taking place in Kisii County under the theme of “Enhancing Organizational Growth and Sustainability through Shared Leadership.”

The Chief Justice pointed out that capabilities and functionality of the Case Tracking System (CTS) have been enhanced to improve the tracking and management of cases and strengthen systems and data integrity.

For instance, the Judiciary had upgraded the CTS to require mandatory uploading of judgments and rulings before updating case outcomes to ensure litigants or advocates and other stakeholders get immediate access to court decisions.

“We are making the cause list portal the single reference point for scheduled case events. All courts are required to generate their cause-lists and notices directly from the CTS,” the CJ directed.

In order to facilitate easier filing and analysis of case progress data, CJ Koome said the process of submitting monthly court returns by Judges and Judicial Officers had been automated through the Monthly Returns Portal.

In addition, she commended the performance of Magistrates’ Courts in the first nine months of the 2023/24 Financial Year having resolved 281,211 cases compared to 289,576 cases filed in the same period, attaining a Case Clearance Rate (CCR) of 97 percent.

The CJ emphasized the need to strengthen specialized courts, including Children’s Courts, the Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Courts and the Small Claims Courts, saying their distinctive roles in addressing unique justice questions amplify the impact of justice in the society.

She called for active pursuit of prison decongestion by ensuring that Community Service Orders (CSO) Case Committees are included as a standing item in the Court Users Committee (CUC) meeting agendas.

“I wish to bring it to your attention that going forward, we will intensify initiatives to reduce prison overcrowding as a measurable target in our Performance Management and Measurement Understanding (PMMU),” Koome said.

The Chief Registrar of the Judiciary Winfridah Mokaya noted that there would be greater involvement of Judicial Officers and staff at the station level in the budget making process, improvement of infrastructure, mentorship and peer review.

“Embrace intergenerational leadership to guide each other, particularly the younger team members in your station. I would encourage you to walk the talk yourself and create a framework for mentorship and peer review within your station. Be your brother and sister’s keeper,” she urged.

The Chief Registrar affirmed that her core priority would be to support the CJ in delivering on the Social Transformation through Access to Justice (STAJ) agenda.

The agenda focuses on innovative people-centered justice model, unlocking the potential that the Judiciary Fund presents, improving management of Judiciary resources and proper systematizing policies to the results cycle.

Kisii Governor Simba Arati who attended the opening session said the county had developed a child protection policy which has since been approved by the Cabinet and pending approval by the County Assembly.

Arati noted the policy seeks to institutionalize the social protection and welfare of the child and will provide a framework for implementation of child protection responsive and preventive services in Kisii County.

“The policy will also provide a road map for collaboration and partnership with the state and non-state actors for child protection in Kisii and strengthen the existing systems as well as establish new structures for the social and economic empowerment and protection of children,” Arati added.

He assured the Judiciary that the county has identified and set aside land where the institution can build courts in three additional sub-counties in order to take justice closer to the people.

“I am pleased to inform you that the premises and paperwork is now ready. In our view, the premises are sufficient to equally house a Mediation Centre as well as the Small Claims Court,” the governor affirmed.

Arati pledged to work with Judiciary in the rollout of Alternative Justice Systems (AJS), which he believes would have a positive impact on access to justice for the people at the grassroots level.

Courtesy; KNA

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