What you need to know:

  • He said a report by the United Nations titled Justice for All made two suggestions to deal with justice gaps.
  •  Courts will no longer keep physical files because we will be fully digitised.

Chief Justice David Maraga has launched the Alternative Justice Systems (AJS) policy in an attempt to expedite delivery of justice and reduce the rising case backlog in the courts.

The Judiciary is geared towards developing court stations in all counties and sub-counties to tame the ballooning backlog of cases and enhance efficiency in the service of justice.

Chief Magistrate David Maraga has said that part of the Judiciary’s master plan is to have high courts and magistrates’ courts decentralised.

“As the Judiciary, we have a master plan for developing High Court stations in all the 47 county headquarters. The stations include Environment and Lands Court, Employment Court and the High Court. We will also develop a magistrate court stations in all the sub county headquarters,” Mr Maraga said yesterday after officially opening the new Nanyuki Law Courts complex.

Mr Maraga said Alternative Justice Systems policy outlines how the alternative mechanisms of dispute resolution can be promoted with a view to reinforcing and focusing on an effective system of justice in the country.

“This policy is a critical output for the future of administration of justice, and specifically, the manner in which judicial services can be offered while taking cognizance of the wider justice processes in the country,” said Justice Maraga.

Embrace technology

The Supreme Court president further appealed to the Office of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (ODPP), the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) and all court users to embrace the new digital platform to speed up service delivery and enhance the integrity of the Judiciary.

“I am today appealing to the DPP and LSK to get ready for the new reforms because we want to move to a digitised Judiciary before the end of this year. Courts will no longer keep physical files because we will be fully digitised. We have embraced technology in service delivery to our people and we are not moving back,” the CJ said.

He noted that one of the core principles in the Constitution guiding the administration of justice and the exercise of judicial authority are the requirements to embrace alternative forms of dispute resolution. These include traditional dispute resolution mechanisms.

He said a report by the United Nations titled Justice for All made two suggestions to deal with justice gaps.

The two suggestions are the need to activate people-centred justice services and the need to make justice services work to prevent injustice, not just to resolve disputes.

“This policy in Kenya heralds an innovation to our justice sector which meets these twin goals. Alternative Justice Systems (AJS) as espoused in this policy are community-centred and reflect the lived realities of the people and, therefore, eminently more accessible to most people,” said Justice Maraga.

Reduce harm

According to the CJ, the alternative systems achieve justice differently: they prevent injustice and reduce harm suffered by people by focusing on causes of injustice and on justice needs of entire communities and societies rather than individuals.

He celebrated the policy saying it will help in offering dialogue on the transformative vision of the Constitution such as reversal of structures that lead to gender oppression, social injustice and stigma and cultural domination. It is also expected to address distributive and social injustice and other forms of oppression.

“This policy also provides a clear framework for mitigating the human-rights challenges that are often associated with AJS mechanisms,” said the CJ.

Formulation of the policy was started by former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, when he appointed the Taskforce On Traditional Justice Systems in March 2016.

On taking office and learning that taskforce had not completed its mandate, Justice Maraga  gave it two extensions to its term ‘to enable it accomplish what was by all means the enormous task of enabling the Judiciary’s design and implementation of its mandate’.

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