The Commonwealth Legal Education Association (CLEA), the Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA) and the Commonwealth Magistrates’ and Judges’ Association (CMJA) are deeply concerned by reports attributed in the media to His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta and senior members of his party in relation to the Judiciary during the campaigning for the elections in Kenya.
By virtue of its membership of the Commonwealth, Kenya is committed to the shared fundamental values and principles of the Commonwealth, at the core of which is a shared belief in, and adherence to, democratic principles including respect for the authority of an independent and impartial judiciary and “the individual’s inalienable right to participate by means of free and democratic political processes in framing the society in which he or she lives”. Any measure on the part of the Executive which is capable of being seen as eroding the authority and independence of the judiciary, is a matter of serious concern.
The Commonwealth (Latimer House) Principles on the Accountability of and the Relationship between the Three Branches of Government (2003) state: “Judges are accountable to the Constitution and to the law which they must apply honestly, independently and with integrity…. Interaction, if any, between the Executive and the Judiciary, should not compromise judicial independence.” The Commonwealth Charter
reaffirms both the political rights and a citizen’s rights to an independent judiciary.
The principles of judicial accountability and independence underpin public confidence in the judicial system and the importance of the judiciary as one of the three pillars upon which a responsible government relies.
The CLA, the CLEA and the CMJA urge all those involved in leadership roles in upcoming elections in Kenya to respect the independence of the judiciary as guaranteed by Article 160 of the Constitution of Kenya and by Kenya’s obligations as a member of the Commonwealth and to desist from undermining the authority of the judiciary and the courts whose decisions are binding on all persons and organs of the state.