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JSC to address shortage of staff

The Judicial Service Commission has taken note of the current staff shortage in the courts with backlogs of cases overwhelming judicial staff.

During a tour of Kakamega Law Courts, Senior Principal Magistrate Everlyn Olwande who led JSC Commissioners said one magistrate is currently handling about 1200 to 1400 cases per year which is double what they are supposed to do.

She said working optimally, a magistrate is supposed to handle at least 600 cases per year.

Olwande noted that Kakamega has two High Court Judges with each of them handling 1400 cases, which she said was too much work in a given year.

Apart from staff shortage, Olwande said the distance witnesses have to travel to testify also contributes to the backlog as some fail to show up, when a matter is fixed forcing postponement.

As a result, she said, the JSC is considering establishing a Magistrate Court in every sub county in Kenya and a High Court in every county.

In Kakamega, the Commission has received backing from the county government for allocation of land in Likuyani, where a court will be established to serve Lugari, Likuyani and neighbouring sub counties.

Residents of Lugari and Likuyani have to travel over 100 Kilometers to access justice at the Kakamega law courts.

“The distance from the court has a bearing on the backlog, because when you have witnesses travelling from far distances you will have instances when the matter is fixed for hearing but a witness cannot make it,” she noted.

Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa agreed to provide land in Likuyani for the establishment of a court.

He also said that Kakamega will establish a county court to deal with cases and complaints involving the county government in order to enhance service delivery.

By Moses Wekesa

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