Kenya

Judge stands down, citing 'intensity of insolence' from counsel

The search for Kenya’s new chief justice has reached a crucial point: an intensive fortnight of candidate interviews by the judicial service commission. But the battle over the future of the jurist leading the search, Kenya’s acting chief justice, Philomena Mwilu, is continuing in parallel. Most recently, the high court judge set to hear a petition that Justice Mwilu be removed as acting CJ and deputy CJ among other positions, because of graft allegations against her, has announced he will recuse himself.

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The question of when judges should recuse themselves from hearing certain cases continues to be one of the most hotly-debated judicial issues in the region. The latest decision by Patrick Otieno, a member of Kenya’s high court bench, will add fuel to these flames. The judge has recused himself from hearing a petition seeking orders barring the second most senior jurist in the country from continuing in office,

A women’s month win in Kenya – court finds ban on female genital mutilation constitutional

Since 2011 female genital mutilation has been illegal in Kenya – though too late for the 21 percent of girls and women in that country, aged between 15 and 49, estimated to have undergone the practice already. Though the ban was widely welcomed, and was introduced to the National Assembly as the brainchild of the cross-party Kenya Women’s Parliamentary Association, it has not been accepted by everyone. In fact, some traditionalists feel so strongly about it that they have gone to court with a claim that the law banning FGM is unconstitutional.

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At first a reader may think that the judgment in this case is some kind of practical joke. How can it possibly be, as the judges’ first lines say, that the applicant in a case testing the constitutionality of Kenya’s ban on female genital mutilation (FGM) is a ‘Dr Tatu Kamua … a medical doctor’?

Crisis averted in the Kenyan judiciary – for now at least

Kenya’s deputy chief justice, Philomena Mwilu, has been under pressure since she was arrested and charged in connection with corruption and tax related offences in 2018. But that has only increased since former chief justice, David Maraga, left office to take leave, pending retirement, late last year. Early in January 2021, an application, ultimately unsuccessful, was made for her to be prevented from taking over as Acting Chief Justice. And last week, a different application was granted, on an interim basis, for a similar order.

Just a fortnight after one high court judge threw out an attempt to suspend Kenya’s Acting Chief Justice, Philomena Mwilu, another judge did exactly that – and more.

High court judge Patrick Otieno sent shockwaves through the judiciary and the legal profession when, on January 29, he granted several temporary orders against the beleaguered deputy chief justice, Judge Mwilu. She is also currently acting as chief justice pending the appointment of a new candidate to fill the post vacated by former CJ David Maraga last month.

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