CJ Martha Koome orders that all hate speech cases be concluded before elections

by Wakili Liam
Chief Justice Martha Koome

There’s a rush to beat the deadline put up by the Chief Justice (CJ) Martha Koome, as pertains to pending hate speech cases.

She has directed that all pending hate speech cases be concluded within the next four months.

The CJ, who is also the President of the Supreme Court, asked Heads of Stations to identify all pending hate speech cases in their respective stations and work out modalities to fast track their resolution with the trial courts.

Speaking at an Eldoret hotel, Monday, while officially opening the 9th Heads of Stations forum, the Chief Justice demanded a Progress Report from each court station on the implementation of the directive within three months.

She announced that she will be gazetting 119 names of judicial officers appointed as special magistrates to hear and determine matters relating to offences under the election offences Act soon, adding that courts prioritizing crimes of hate speech will be set up in areas identified as ‘hotspots’ by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC).

The CJ  said NCIC had raised concern over delays in hearing and determining hate speech cases, saying the courts to be prioritized will deal with matters falling under the National Cohesion and Integration Act.

Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Eldoret, and Nakuru are some of the ‘hotspot’ designated areas, where the special courts will be set up.

Moses Kuria, Gatundu South MP in one of the court sessions charged with hate speech

All matters related to the previous general elections, Koome directed, should be concluded before July 31st, 2022, and announced that in order to prepare for the August General Elections, the Judiciary Committee on Elections (JCE) targets to train 361 magistrates, to handle arising election disputes.

“This will be done in collaboration with the Kenya Judiciary Academy, the training of the Magistrates organized in nine regional cohorts, will start on Mach 9th  to April 20th, 2022, as the training for High Court Judges has already commenced,” said the CJ.

“We must be prepared to handle all election-related disputes expeditiously and fairly,” she added.

She noted that the Constitution gives specific electoral dispute resolution timelines, to safeguard the democratic organization of the country, adding it is a constitutional imperative to expedite the connected cases.

Koome urged the Heads to prioritize the resolution of pending cases, noting that 95, 160 cases in the magistrates’ courts, have been pending for the last three years.

“By the end of the 2nd quarter of the 2021/2022 Financial Year, pending cases at the magistrates’ courts increased by 4% from 512,454 the previous Financial Year to 532,369, you need to devise strategies to reverse this trend through versatile case management strategies”.

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