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Judiciary upscales hearing of cases amid covid-19 pandemic

Kisumu High Court is using technology to decongest courtrooms in a move aimed at complying with directives issued by the National Emergence and Response Committee on containment of Covid-19.

Kisumu High Court Judge Fred Ochieng said that the Court has up-scaled hearing of both Criminal and Civil appeal cases through video links thus restricting human contact to curb the spread of the deadly disease.

Justice Ochieng said the High Court is now able to hear appeal cases including those involving prisoners through virtual sessions and submitting signed judgements electronically, hence limiting physical contact.

Speaking in Kisumu on modalities and measures put in place to upscale services in Western Kenya region yesterday, Justice Ochieng however admitted that the Judiciary was facing a huge challenge to hear cases that require witnesses.

He said such cases will remain suspended until when Covid-19 disease will be subdued. “We are encouraging Kenyans to give written submissions instead of oral submissions to curb physical contacts,” he said.

He however observed that the Judiciary has put in place mechanisms to hear urgent cases that may be lodged through the Court administrator in Kisumu or through the Supreme Court in Nairobi.

Justice Ochieng, who was accompanied by Peter Gesora, the Chief Magistrate and Deputy Registrar at the Kisumu Law Courts Linah Akoth, affirmed that the Judiciary will give preference to cases that should have been heard in March this year before the pandemic struck.

“We shall give priority to hear cases that should have been heard from March, April and May this year when normal sessions resume but currently those not represented by lawyers can communicate to us via Short Message Service(SMS) through the court administrator, John Wamalwa on mobile number 0715314251,” he said.

Justice Ochieng and Chief Magistrate Peter Gesora took the press to courtrooms to show the Ministry of Health compliance measures put in place where only a maximum of 15 people will be required to sit in Chief Magistrate’s Court in order to maintain one meter social distance as well as use of sanitizers and hand washing.

By George Kaiga

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