Wednesday, 19 October 2016

David Kenani Maraga is Kenya's New Chief Justice

President Uhuru Kenyatta presided over the swearing in of  the new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Kenya.

Justice David Kenani Maraga, 64, formely the Presiding Judge of the Court of Appeal in Kisumu. He was named to the post on  Wednesday a day after the National Assembly unanimously approved him.

He was appointed to the High Court in October 2003 and to the Court of Appeal in 2011.
A holder of both an LL.B and an LL.M from the University of Nairobi, he also chairs the Judiciary Committee on Elections tasked with overseeing election petition hearings that may arise after the 2017 elections within the prescribed period in the constitution.
Maraga, was nominated by the Judicial Service Commission on September 22. He replaces 69-year-old Willy Mutunga who served as Kenya’s Chief Justice since 2011.

Below is the Chief Justice's speech after being sworn in:

Allow me to thank the president for hosting this event, and to appreciate all of us who have honored the invitation to attend this swearing in ceremony.
We, also, collectively thank God for an occasion such as this.
The broad representation here today is a testimony of Kenya at its best -a people always able and willing to pull together, united by a purpose which reflects our culture, national character and a belief in constitutionalism.

It is tempting to take an event such as the one we are having here today as ordinary and routine.
Taking the oath of office as the 15th Chief Justice of the Republic of Kenya may not, in and of itself, be an event of monumental novelty. But we must not lose the significance of this historic day.
This day affirms the country’s recognition and acceptance to be governed as a constitutional democracy.
The transition from one Chief Justice to another, conducted through an open, competitive recruitment process– a constitutional device the rest of the world holds in remarkable awe – is not only a testament to our strong democratic traditions but also a vindication of the independence of our institutions such as the Judicial Service Commission.
Today shows that when we allow institutions to thrive, and when those institutions are populated with men and women who put the country first, they will always do what is right. Throughout the process of choosing the holder of the Office of the Chief Justice, the JSC manifested both independence and accountability – conducting a process that is open, transparent and responsive to the concerns of the Kenyan people.
I am proud to be a product of that process and I am committed to protecting and enhancing the Constitutional ideals of judicial independence and accountability. Given the high caliber of other Kenyans who applied for the job of Chief Justice, the burden for delivery of the essentials of this office is certainly high for me. I salute my worthy competitors.
I am confident that with the support of all the justice sector stakeholders I will succeed.

This is, also, an important day for the Judiciary. The Judiciary was the first arm of government to transit from the independence Constitution to the 2010 constitution when it recruited the first Chief Justice under the new Constitution.
This exercise was achieved five years ago with widespread national and international acclaim.
Today, the Judiciary, again, is the first arm of 3 government to oversee the first peaceful transition and transfer of power under the 2010 Constitution. This is a remarkable feat and the Judiciary and the JSC, are very proud that we are setting the pace for the rest of the country.
We hope that other arms of government will follow suit in this now well beaten path of proper conduct in the management of leadership succession at the top echelons of government. But our pace setting has not just been in transitions. It has also been on reforms both in terms of constitutional implementation and institutional transformation.
For the last five years, the Judiciary, under the leadership of my predecessor, Hon. Dr. Willy Mutunga, has been implementing an ambitious and successfully transformation agenda, which has been a benchmark for other public sector institutions. We have been resetting the button for the kind of Judiciary that Kenyans want and need.
A Judiciary that is people-centered and a fair and firm defender of their rights. A Judiciary that is independent, and one that robustly upholds the Constitution. A Judiciary that gallantly fights corruption within its ranks, and one that is transparently managed.
A Judiciary that is financially strong yet accountable. A Judiciary that is open and friendlier to the public, and one that has now finally embraced performance contracting. I want to thank Hon. Dr. Willy Mutunga for his leadership and for laying the strong foundations of transformation on which I will build.
As I assume office, I promise to focus on a number of fundamental undertakings:
I will endeavor to turn the Judiciary into a world-class justice institution. My overarching interest will be on improvement of service delivery in the justice sector- to the Kenyan people. I will seek to eliminate corruption from amongst our ranks, reduce the backlog of cases and automate court proceedings.
I will aspire to enhance access to justice for all and improve performance and accountability within the Judiciary. The Judiciary must be accountable on its finances and on its jurisprudence, both in quantitative and qualitative terms.
I can assure the country that the judicial work ethic is going to change – for the better.
The core function of the judiciary is to ensure that citizen’s rights are protected, that all are equal before the law and that the rule of law is observed.
While cultivating a collaborative and mutually supportive relationship with all arms of Government, we will continue to discharge our constitutional mandate fairly, impartially but firmly. We shall respect the constitutional independence of other arms of government and expect that they, too, shall similarly respect the independence of the judiciary.
The principle of separation of powers is central to our constitutional architecture.
Leadership is about service and teamwork. I intend to build a positive culture amongst the staff, an attitude of service, and collegiality. In the same vein, I will strive to ensure that the Judiciary delivers value for money to the Kenyan public.
Our service is justice.
Kenyans must feel the quality and speed of our service and be satisfied with it. This requires continuous improvement and accountability. Although more than three quarters of our Judges, Magistrates and Judicial Staff are honest and hardworking people, corruption continues to be a dark blot on the Judiciary as an institution. Whereas considerable progress has been made in the fight against this vice, I must admit that the information I have indicates that it is on the rise.
I promise to deal with this problem in a direct and frontal manner. I will strengthen the Office of the Judiciary Ombudsperson, reinforce the disciplinary processes in JSC, and bolster the Directorate of Internal Risk and Audit among many other recommendations that will result from the ongoing Anti-Corruption Mapping exercise being led by Transparency International.
I will institutionalize the war against corruption so that it is not a periodic event but part and parcel of our culture and management systems and processes. I recognize that the steady and consistent support of the Executive and the Legislature as well as that of other institutions is crucial in the fight against Corruption.
I plead for maximum support in this regard. I am aware that the legal profession is linked to the Judiciary in a special way. I will endeavor to extend and fortify this relationship.
But as the Judiciary reflects on improving on judicial performance, we must expect the same of the bar.
I will seek to engage both with the leadership and membership of the Law Society of Kenya to play their part in improving service delivery, clearing case backlog, enhancing integrity in court processes and improving the quality of legal training and legal services provided by both the bar and bench.
Lastly, let me turn my attention to the role of the Judiciary in the next elections. Elections and Election Dispute Resolution is a key priority for me. I have been the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee on Elections and I have confidence in the preparations that we have and are putting in place. But we are just one actor in the chain. We require all agencies, other actors, the political class and the Kenyan citizenry to play their part in ensuring that the next elections are undertaken in accordance with the set Constitutional standards.
I want to assure the nation that the Judiciary is ready to satisfactorily determine any disputes that may arise from the electioneering process.
The Judiciary is ready to hear and resolve any election disputes that may arise in a fair and timely manner.
We shall continue to invest in cultivating the trust and confidence of the Kenyan people in our arbitral role in electoral disputes.
I am determined to do what it takes, to engage as widely as is necessary and as is permitted under the Constitution, to achieve this objective and to ensure that justice prevails and peace abounds amongst the Kenyan people.
Finally, I want to thank the Almighty God for this appointment. I want to thank the Judicial Service Commission for recommending my appointment, the President for appointing me and the Legislature for approving my appointment.
I also want to thank the Kenyan people who have demonstrated their overwhelming support for my appointment. I do not take lightly the constitutional provision that judicial authority is derived from the people. There is no interest group or institution that doesn’t need a strong and independent Judiciary. Under the guidance of the Almighty God, I am determined to do my best to an independent Judiciary.