Court of Appeal President Justice William Ouko has called for the speedy conclusion of all the civil and criminal cases involving children that have been pending in Kilifi law courts for more than six months.
Justice Ouko cited the Kilifi Law courts alone where there are 124 pending cases involving children adding that an almost similar backlog is witnessed in Malindi, Kaloleni and Mariakani Law courts in the County.
Justice Ouko spoke when he presided over the launch of this year’s Children Service Week on behalf of Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu at Karisa Maitha grounds in Kilifi town where he urged the courts in the area to speedily adopt the Court Annexed Mediation mechanism.
He said unlike in the past when judicial service weeks focused on criminal cases involving children in conflict with the law and cases of child abuse, this year the objective is to clear the backlog of all criminal and civil cases involving children in courts.
“Our courts have trained Court Users Committees (CUC’s) members in various parts across the country on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism such as plea bargaining and court annexed mediation by partnering with the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to ensure successful clearance of cases during the service week”, said Justice Ouko.
The court of appeal president said there have been success stories in other courts across the country where they have shown commitment and taken ownership of the process with the result that many pending children cases have been finalized.
He noted with concern that out of 700 cases of children in remand homes, rehabilitation centres and borstal institutions, only 33 of those cases have been proven to be factually correct about minors in conflict with the law.
He called on the justice system to review the 96 % of children in need of protection and care who have been subjected to a life that they should not have encountered in the first place.
By Harrison Yeri