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BBI report wants more judicial autonomy

Friday November 29 2019

Chief Justice David Maraga, in a televised

Chief Justice David Maraga, in a televised address to the nation from the foot of the Supreme Court in Nairobi on November 4, 2019. PHOTO | SAM KIPLAGAT | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

ABIUD OCHIENG
By ABIUD OCHIENG
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The judiciary will be a major beneficiary if the recommendations in the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report are adopted.

The BBI report has recommended that there should be separation of powers between the three arms of government as part of efforts to restore public confidence in courts.

The judiciary has in some cases had its functions frustrated by the national government, especially due to delay in the release of funds.

The third arm of government has been calling for financial autonomy, and even though the judiciary fund law is enacted, it is yet to be implemented.

FRUSTRATION

Early this month, Chief Justice David Maraga cried out to the executive, after accusing the National Treasury of frustrating the judiciary from delivering on its mandate through budget cuts.

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It was not after public outcry that funding was reinstated.

“The independence of the Judiciary must be protected as a fundamental principle, but it should also be accountable to the people of Kenya,” reads the BBI report.

There are instances where Treasury released funds two days to the end of the financial year, which makes it difficult to utilise the money.

Mr Duncan Okello, chief of staff in the office of the former chief justice, says that in instances where this happened, it created delay in completion of projects.

“The exchequer is particularly notorious with the first quarter because rarely do they release funds within that period,” Mr Okello.

Most of the court stations being constructed by the government are way behind completion because of the unpredictable release of funds.

However, most of those whose construction is being funded by World Bank, under the Judicial Performance Improvement Project (JPIP), are complete or near completion because the funds are readily available.

“The judiciary has demonstrated that it has the capacity to oversee construction to completion when funds are available,” Mr Okello.