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Case delays defeat justice

Wednesday October 16 2019

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Long delays in hearing and determining cases are a travesty of justice. But this is the sickening reality around the country as there are many pending criminal cases, with the lives of victims and even suspects left in limbo for too long.

Indeed, Chief Justice David Maraga has, in his judicial reform agenda, prioritised clearing the huge backlog. And the old adage that justice delayed is justice denied could not be truer.


It is even more harrowing in cases where lives have been wrecked. Without closure in many cases, victims cannot move on with their lives while others die before those who have wronged them are punished. Sexual abuse has devastating consequences for victims.

Their pain is aggravated by the long wait to see their tormentors punished.

Nearly half of the pending cases have dragged on for more than three years, making a mockery of the reforms to improve the delivery of justice.


As of June last year, 45 per cent of the backlog of 327,928 cases had dragged on for more than three years. Ideally, the maximum period a case should take is one year.


The gravity of the problem is evident in the fact that, in only one court in Makindu, Makueni County, for instance, some 200 defilement and rape cases have not been heard and concluded since 2014. This is an indictment of the justice system.

However, it is encouraging to note that a group of visiting magistrates has joined their colleagues in Makueni to help tackle the backlog.

But urgently required is a more robust and comprehensive effort to clear the backlog. We could not agree more with one of the magistrates that these delays just defeat justice.