CJ’s Progress Report on the Transformation of the Judiciary – The First Hundred and Twenty Days

Fellow country women, men and friends:

It is with great pleasure that I submit the Progress Report on the Transformation of the Judiciary in Kenya.

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The struggle to reform the Judiciary predates my rise to the Office of the Chief Justice. However, my assumption of office on June 20, 2011, following a rigorous vetting process where the institutions of the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary, as well as the general public played significant roles, marked an important turning point. I want to thank all of them, and, in particular, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) which, in many respects, has set the golden standard in the vetting of public officials. 

In making this Report, I have elected to issue it on the eve of Mashujaa Day, a day so emblematic of our struggle for justice and freedom that it should remind us how an oppressive system of government can easily use courts to perpetuate a miscarriage of justice. The existence of courts alone provides no guarantee of justice. Rather, it is the values and quality of the people who lead it; the aspirations and design of the Constitution that creates it; and the vigilance and civic consciousness of the people who continuously demand better. In sad moments in our history, courts have failed to uphold the rule of law and to defend the rights of man and woman.

This is why Kenyans fought for a new Constitution. It is the reason we are reforming the Judiciary. It is the reason we must succeed in creating an institution of justice that can secure our democracy and fulfil its rich promise.

Today marks the 120th day since assuming the office of Chief Justice. I think it is opportune to give a review of our accomplishments so far, and, similarly, provide strategic direction for the future.  My vision, as we move forward, is to transform the Judiciary to ensure equitable access to, and efficient and effective delivery of, justice. In leading this transformation agenda, I am guided by the constitutional principle that the people are the source of judicial authority. Those of us to whom this authority is delegated must exercise it only in their interest and for their benefit. This is the article of faith that I uphold as I execute my duties as the Chief Justice of the Republic of Kenya.

For the past 20 years, no less than four internal reports on the Judiciary have been published. These fairly robust and honest self assessments identified long standing problems that plague our system of justice, and in their pages are some very progressive recommendations. Most of these have remained unimplemented. There was lack of will and support to implement the recommendations. What is new is that we have the collective will of the Kenyan people, and the leadership in the judiciary to implement these reforms. In designing my reform agenda, We have borrowed heavily from these reports, while reviewing and updating them to reflect the context and demands of the Constitution.

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