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Judiciary budget cuts drag justice delivery in Lamu – locals

[A Lawyer giving legal advice to a local at Hindi, Lamu county. Photo/MUHURI].

Judiciary budget cuts have affected dispensation of justice in Lamu, locals have complained.

The residents said cases take long in court ostensibly because of a few judiciary staff and lack of infrastructure.

They have further said mobile court sessions have stopped due to cash crunch fueled by the war the Executive is waging against Judiciary.

The training held at Hindi on Wednesday by Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI) under the Program for Legal Empowerment and Aid Delivery in Kenya (PLEAD), aims at strengthening the effective delivery of justice and to promote alternatives to imprisonment.

Chief Justice David Maraga, who is at loggerhead with President Uhuru Kenyatta over the appointment of 41 judges, has numerously complained of budget cuts that have crippled Judiciary functions.

Justice delayed

So dire is the situation that Maraga in June said that a land case filed in 2022 will be heard in 2022.

“This is because we have 31 judges against 15,437 cases as of March 31, 2020,” Maraga said.

In the 2013-14 financial year (FY), the National Assembly allocated the Judiciary Sh17.8 billion, since then, there has been declining budgetary allocation to the Judiciary over the years.

[From Left: MUHURI Chairman Khelef Khalifa, RRO Francis Auma, CM&E Officer Ernest Cornell, and the Organisation’s Field Officer Fredrick Okado. Photo/courtesy/MUHURI].

This May, the Judiciary said reforms are on hold following a Sh23 billion budget deficit.

At the training, Hindi local Joyce Wanjiru, who has been having a property dispute with her estranged husband, said she has been unable to get justice.

John Njoroge said the hippopotamus fatally attacked his brother in 2016, but Kenya Wildlife Service is yet to compensate him.

Daniel Mwangi said his 15-acre plot got registered under another person, despite developing it since 1999.

Mobile court

MUHURI Communications, monitoring and evaluation officer, Ernest Cornel, said these are some of the hundreds of cases stalling because of limited Judiciary staff and infrastructure.

“We can only cure this problem by funding the Judiciary properly,” he said.

During the training, lawyers drafted legal documents for locals, targeted at numerous authorities, at least to speed up justice.

Mr. Cornell said the situation would have been better if mobile court sessions were ongoing.

Lamu Principal magistrate Allan Temba said the last sitting was in January.

[Hindi residents in Lamu attending street training on justice organized by MUHURI. Photo/courtesy/MUHURI].

“In a month, we could hold four sittings – and hear 12 cases — in areas where residents faced difficulties accessing courts,” said Mr. Temba.

Rampant cases the mobile courts tackled according to Mr. Temba included defilement, theft, and violent attacks.


 “There are lots of backlogs. In Lamu East, for instance, a case drags because it takes time to ferry people to the Island where the court is. A month case can take up to six months,” Temba said.

“It cost Sh 2,000 to travel to-and-fro using a public boat. A public speed boat cost Sh 3,000, while private goes at Sh 15,000,” said Mr. Cornell.

Cornel said were it not for the budget cuts, the mobile court would have shielded locals from the expensive undertakings and speed up delivery of justice.

He said PLEAD, funded by the European Union through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) targets to achieve a 50 percent reduction in the backlog of criminal cases by 2022.

“PLEAD also intends to reduce the number of pre-trial detainees by 30 percent to combat prison overcrowding,” said Mr. Cornel.