Plans are underway to establish virtual courts in the country to assist in taking evidence and proceeding from Kenyans in the diaspora who have court cases in the country.
Chief Justice David Maraga said the courts will help reduce the costs and time spent traveling by those in the diaspora to attend proceedings in the country, saying that they are the highest contributors of foreign exchange for the country.
He however, noted that uncertainty and inadequacy of funds has slowed down the plans, which is expected to help those in the diaspora
The CJ was speaking on Thursday during the launch of the 8th State of the Judiciary and Administration of Justice Report (SOJAR) for the year 2018/2019 at the Supreme Court grounds.
The Report is an important document for Judiciary as it touches on accountability, mode of communication to members of the public, enhances the administration of justice in the country and gives the Judiciary an opportunity to demonstrate how it has executed its mandate in accordance with the constitution.
CJ Maraga said the Judiciary has adopted global standards of assessing its performance using yardsticks such as backlog reduction and case clearance rates, which he said has shown that the Judiciary performed well in the period under review.
He said the year under review, has shown that the Judiciary managed to reduce the backlog of cases of five years and more from 170,186 to 38,781, an increase of nine percent from the previous year which was 372,928 in 2017/2018. He added that the case clearance rate also reduced at 97 percent.
“A total of 484,349 cases were filed in all courts comprising of 343,109 criminal cases and 141,240 civil cases of which 469,359 cases were resolved,” said the CJ.
He assured Kenyans that the courts are working diligently and expeditiously to resolve all cases filed in court so that the affected can get justice.
The CJ said in a bid to increase operational efficiencies and improve access to justice for all Kenyans, the judiciary has employed Dispute Resolution Mechanisms, established Court-Annexed Mediation programme that cover court stations in 12 counties.
“This mediation programme has facilitated the release of approximately Sh 7.2 billion in funds that were tied in litigation,” he said and added that the positive results address the perennial challenge of the rising workload existing in the courts thereby facilitating the release of funds tied in litigation to the economy.
Maraga also urged the government to increase the judiciary allocation to enable it enhance administration of justice and handle cases faster, noting that the major challenge the Judiciary faced in the year 2018/2019 was inadequate funds which he attributed to the huge backlog of cases.
The CJ said there is need to revolutionize the Judiciary by improving the ICT section to avoid the disappearance of court files which are manually kept, noting that such issues can lead to cases being unsolved.
He at the same time said if the government allocated the judiciary the development fund it requires, it will dispose cases within two years of case filing as well as construct courts countrywide in 10 years.
“Out of a budget of about 3 trillion, give us just 2.5 percent and will dispose cases within two years and give us a development vote of about Sh. 5 billion every year and we will construct courts all over the country,” he said.
The Speaker of the Senate, Ken Lusaka attended the ceremony and congratulated the CJ for ensuring wheels of justice are constantly oiled and moving.
By John Kinyua and Jemimah Njeri