The Federation of Women Lawyers in Kenya (FIDA) and Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi Wednesday called for proper resourcing of the Judiciary to enable it to discharge its mandate effectively.
They also rooted for alternative dispute resolution through the court annexed mediation mechanism in order for justice to be dispensed fairly even among people who may not have the financial means to pursue justice through litigation.
Governor Kingi, who was giving a keynote address at a Malindi beach resort during a leadership workshop for judicial officers drawn from Kilifi, Tana River and Lamu Counties, said lack of resources had led to a backlog of cases thus denying quick justice to Kenyans.
Kingi said he had personally offered to donate land in Mtwapa for the construction of a court house, but the Judiciary had been unable to take up the offer and build the court due to lack of budgetary provisions.
He said it was important that the Judiciary is properly funded and equipped with modern equipment and adequate human resources for it to discharge its constitutional mandate with ease.
Kingi at the same time said alternative dispute resolution mechanism as the Court-Annexed Mediation being spearheaded by the Judiciary would help reduce case backlog and enable disputing parties to get quick and amicable solutions to disputes.
He said his administration had offered to assist in the setting up of an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) centre, adding that such a centre would greatly help resolve civil matters without having to go through the courts.
He said issues like breach of contract and family feuds could easily be handled through mediation, noting that his administration had lost a lot of money in a dispute with a contractor as the lawsuit between them has dragged for four years in the court justice system.
“ADR is not only beneficial to the people of Kilifi County, it is also beneficial to the county government, hence I call for the speedy setting up of an ADR centre in the county,” he said.
FIDA Kenya Executive Director Anne Ireri, the federation had attended to almost 3 million women and families by giving solutions in litigation through mediation, and by making sure women occupy leadership and governance positions in the country.
“During the 35 years of its existence, FIDA Kenya has attended to almost 3 million women and families by giving solutions in litigation through mediation, and by making sure women occupy leadership and governance positions in the country,” she said.
He lauded the Judiciary for initiating Court Annexed Mediation, saying as a leader in family mediation through alternative dispute resolution, Fida Kenya had concluded that mediationnwas faster, cheaper, more efficient and kepy families together.
“So, we remain committed with vested interests to see how we can popularize mediation in Kenya because mediation will go a long way not only to keep our families together but to also preserve our societies,” she said.
She said Fida Kenya would continue to position itself as a leader in women rights and champion the rights of women individually and collectively for the sake of a healthy Kenya.
Like Governor Kingi, Ireri called for more funds to be allocated to the Judiciary and adequate judicial officers employed for Kenyans to get justice without undue delay as is happening now due to the small number of judges and magistrates.
“For the judiciary to function, it takes collective resources. We need to have enough courts and judicial officers in the country who are properly equipped with the necessary facilities and human resources including interpreters, stenographers and Information Technology (IT) experts especially during the Covid-19 pandemic,” she said.
On Chief Justice David Maraga’s succession following his impending retirement, Ms. Ireri said FIDA was praying for the best candidate to take up the mantle, but added that there were enough competent women to be appointed to the highest position in the Judiciary.
“As a key stakeholder in the justice system in the country, we are praying for the best candidate. As to whether we have enough women who have proven themselves in the Judiciary, absolutely yes. We are hoping for the best candidate but we confirm as FIDA that we know there are enough competent women as well who can take up that position.
Malindi High Court Resident Judge Reuben Nyakundi said the Judiciary had started training professional mediators, noting that court annexed mediation would reduce the cost of litigation as witnesses would not have to travel long distances to courts to seek justice for issues that can be handled through mediation.
“When witnesses travel to the High Court in Malindi and Garsen, they spend a lot of their financial resources. Even the money that we get is not sufficient to pay witnesses, and that is why we have been asking for more funding,” he said.