Sunday, May 19, 2024
Home > Counties > Judge lauds Alternative Justice System

Judge lauds Alternative Justice System

Narok Presiding Judge Justice Francis Gikonyo has praised the Alternative Justice System (AJS) that is set to be rolled out in the county, saying it would ease the backlog of cases in court.

Gikonyo said AJS provides a platform for a win-win situation as those on the panel understand the parties well and can easily tell who is on the wrong or right.

“When people come to court, they are strangers to us. Sometimes they can choose not to tell the truth, and we can’t tell because we don’t know their background. Others have more competent lawyers who defend them well to win the case, though they are the ones on the wrong side,” he said.

Justice Gikonyo spoke to KNA at his office, where he observed that AJS would not be costly because it would be done in the villages, hence no travelling cost or any other technicalities that could prevent the people from going far to seek justice.

“This morning, I was forced to postpone a number of cases because the people involved are travelling from faraway places where the roads are impassable following the heavy downpour. At AJS, the cases will be done in the villages, and the people will access justice faster than the court system,” he continued.

Nevertheless, he was quick to mention that cases dealing with children will not be handled through AJS, as children need to be passionately protected.

He reiterated that children’s cases, among them Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), defilement, and early marriages, have been piling up in court despite the stiff penalties awarded to the culprits.

“This is why the law doesn’t allow such cases to go the AJS way because such instances infringe on the rights of children and cause permanent damage to the children. We have a duty to protect children to ensure they all have a bright future,” he added.

“If you look at the judgements I have made, I have ordered that all those people involved in child abuse be charged in court. We cannot allow elderly people to defile our young children, some of whom are as young as five years old,” he said.

“Other cases that are common in court are succession cases, and when you dig deeper, you see discrimination against women as men try to use their customs to discriminate against women from getting their parents property,” he noted.

In AJS, we should remember that the constitution is superior to any other law; hence, any decision that the panellists make should adhere to the constitution, warned the judge.

The panellists will consist of men, women, youths, and persons with disabilities so as to ensure equal representation of all the parties involved.

On his part, County Attorney Allan Meing’ati said Narok County would be among the first counties to launch AJS in the country.

He observed that over 60 stakeholders drawn from various sectors, among them: religious leaders, the Maasai Council of Elders, the judiciary, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP), Civil Society, Media, youth and women groups, had been trained on AJS.

Meing’ati recalled that before the modern courts came, the elders used to resolve cases in the villages, and all the parties ended up getting justice.

“This was my major assignment when I came into office because I have a desire to see people resolve their issues faster than the long court system. I believe AJS will resolve many issues we have in society today,” said Meing’ati.

By Ann Salaton

Leave a Reply