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Maraga orders presentation of suspects in court within 24 hours of arrest

Kenya’s Judiciary will resume its operations a month after they suspended key operations, as part of measures to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, which was confirmed in the country last month.

Chief Justice David Maraga on Thursday said National Council on the Administration of Justice (NCAJ) will continue with their efforts to find the optimal balance between keeping the justice system up and running while safeguarding the health of our staff as well as members of the public in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The CJ-led justice council also ordered the presentation of suspects in court within 24 hours of arrest as required by law as the Judiciary aims to scale up its operations which had been downscaled in measures taken to curtail the spread of coronavirus.

The High Court, Court of Appeal for criminal appeal hearings as well as all registries are expected to upscale sessions from April 21.

“The hearing of criminal appeals by the High Court and the Court of Appeal shall be scaled and proceed through modalities to be agreed by judges seized by the appeals, the DPP, appellants and their advocates as well as prison authorities,” NCAJ said in a statement.

The council however said court sessions will be conducted in strict adherence to the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health to ensure the protection of judicial staff and court users.

“All pending judgements and rulings shall, in accordance with guidelines of the Ministry of Health will henceforth be delivered in open court upon notice to litigants and their advocates,” the statement added.

Court registry staff have also been re-called in limited numbers to ensure compliance with the Ministry of Health guidelines.

CLOSURE

Last month, Chief Registrar Anne Amadi in a memo to judges, judicial officers and workers, instructed them to keep off court stations across the country.

She directed that notices informing the public of the closure be displayed at courts with contacts of two staff to handle urgent matters on email.

The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) had called for the re-opening of courts, a proposal objected by Kenya Magistrates and Judges Association (KWJA) on grounds that it was unreasonable.

KWJA said the Judiciary officers were not exempted from regulations of the Ministry of Health on social distancing.

Under the new guidelines, all pending judgements shall be delivered in open court while matters filed when the courts were closed will be handled according to new guidelines to be issued by a NCAJ subcommittee.

“Presiding judges and heads of stations outside Nairobi shall liaise with court users committees and come up with guidelines on how civil matters which were taken out between 16 March and 22 April be dealt with,” the council stated.