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Don’t drag judges for vetting: Karua

Friday August 20 2010

By EUNICE MACHUHI [email protected]

Former Justice minister Martha Karua on Friday said judges should be vetted without being dragged to an inquisition.

She said instead, a committee should be set up to peruse the judges’ judicial records and make recommendations based on these.

“The records are enough because for some, they will show excellence and eligibility for promotions while for others they will show gross incompetence and corruption, resulting in them being automatically weeded out of the system,” she said.

Ms Karua was speaking at the annual Law Society of Kenya conference at the Leisure Lodge Beach and Golf Resort in Mombasa.

The Committee of Experts, she said, came up with the idea of vetting because they did not want to subject judicial officers to another radical surgery similar to the one that took place in 2003. Some of the judges interdicted in 2003, she said, were still being investigated.

Vetting would also ensure continuous monitoring of judicial officers and discourage ad hoc tribunals and witch-hunting.

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“They did not want another inquisition because it would drag the process and probably victimise innocent officers,” Ms Karua said.

She also said there was need to vet members of the Judicial Service Commission to ensure their suitability.

Not be involved

“The Judicial Service Commission has made questionable appointments of judges and that was one of the reasons I resigned,” Ms Karua said.

Speaking at the same meeting, Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Mutula Kilonzo said the law society should not be involved in the vetting.

Mr Kilonzo said the lawyers should, instead, come up with laws which will make the job easier for those appointed to do the vetting.

“I read that the LSK wants to do the vetting and I told myself that it is just like a chicken asking to be included in the laying of an egg,” he said.