The Office of the Judiciary Ombudsman (OJO) has asked members of the public who have complaints on pending court cases to present their matters during the ongoing public clinics in Machakos County.
Speaking to the media at the Machakos law courts Monday, where the clinics are being held, OJO Officer Maria Tata said they were out to ensure residents receive timely justice.
Tata noted that the public now have somewhere to lodge complaints against the Judiciary, thanks to the former Chief Justice’s office which instituted the office.
“We are here today and tomorrow to hold a public clinic to create awareness for the office and give a chance to the public to lodge their complaints. On Wednesday and Thursday we will proceed to Kithimani law courts,” she said.
The ombudsman official said that the complaint registration process entails the generation of a tracking number for every individual case which makes it easy to ensure that there is follow up and that every complaint is eventually resolved.
“The complainants are also issued with a booklet which has the OJO’s offices location and contacts details, the mandate of the OJO office, the requirements of filing a complaint and a highlight of some of the complaints that the office will not process,” she added.
She revealed that some of the complaints that the office receives comprise those of misplaced court files, hearing adjournments, delayed refund of cash bails and, delayed appeal case proceedings and bribery demands by some judicial officers.
“Most of the complaints are normally on land cases while those of missing files are quite minimal. If there are complaints which can be dealt with instantly we will do that but those which need further investigations will be dealt with later on,” she assured.
Nonetheless, Tata regretted the OJO office is faced with a big challenge in that most of the complaints are normally lodged against their major stakeholders including the police and other judicial officers.
“We normally hold the clinics on a yearly basis. We have already conducted other clinics in among other regions, Kisii, Kisumu, Embu, Nyeri and Karatina. The Kithimani law court Clinic will be the 16th and the last one for this quarter.
OJO is an administrative office under the Office of the Chief Justice. The office aims to rebuild confidence in the judiciary from the people it serves.
It assesses the institution’s performance from the public point of view by obtaining feedback from the public, receiving and processing complaints by members of the pubic against the judiciary, judicial officers and staff.
The office is also mandated to receive and process complaints by employees, improve transparency and accountability within the judiciary in addition to encouraging public participation.
By Rachael Kilonzo