Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua said Thursday the Kenya Kwanza administration has not, and has no intention of capturing the judiciary.
Speaking in Kilifi during the closing ceremony of the three-day Environment and Land Court’s 10th Anniversary Conference that took place at Pwani University, Gachagua said the government remained keen on maintaining the independence of the judiciary by giving it the necessary support to carry out its duties.
“We will support the judiciary in its noble calling of dispensing fair justice to the people of Kenya,” DP Rigathi Gachagua said.
“We promised to facilitate an independent judiciary and that is what we will do.”
He added that Kenya Kwanza will maintain the judiciary’s financial independence as well as increase the funding of this critical arm of government by Sh2billion every financial year.
“This is to expedite the backlog of pending cases. We understand that justice delayed is justice denied,” Gachagua said.
He urged the courts to expedite succession cases as a means of delivering justice to the many Kenyans with these cases before the courts.
“Land and land governance is an emotive issue in Kenya; socially, politically, economically and legally. We all know from the colonial times, there have been critical land injustices,” Gachagua said.
“I urge all the players and actors in this space to expedite the succession cases pending before courts.”He said that pending succession court cases have tied billions of shillings in delayed judicial processes that would be a welcome boost to the economy.
“We need this money freed into our economy by resolving these disputes,” the DP said.
Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu urged the judges and magistrates present to be sincere in adjudicating land matters before them.
“Let us not judge in lack of integrity…let us discharge justice devoid of compromise. The land is life, the environment is life. That is why it is an emotive subject in this country. Let us serve pure, unadulterated justice in these cases,” Mwilu said.
The Environment and Land Court was established in 2012, with the specific mandate to hear disputes related to the environment and land and improve access to environmental justice.
Its core mandate is to administer justice by upholding the environmental rule of law, access to justice, and environmental and land dispute resolution.
One of the main objectives for this year’s celebrations by the ELC was to enhance the awareness of sustainable development challenges, in particular, on the climate crisis, biodiversity loss as well as other pressing environmental challenges and more importantly the crucial role that courts.
“The Environment and Land Court should have it in mind that Environmental Sustainability can only be achieved in the context of a fair, effective, and transparent enforcement of the Law,” Gachagua said.
The conference took place at a time when the country is going through its worst drought in 40 years, living more than 5 million people in need of relief support.
The country has experienced four successive failed rainy seasons, with the ongoing short rains are projected to be less than expected.
In light of this, Gachagua urged the judiciary to be aware of the changes in the climate even as they make rulings on the matters brought before them.
“The adverse effects of climate change have affected our livelihoods; our food security is under threat and so is our wellbeing. Our dignity as a people must be protected by each one of us through simple actions that we take every day to mitigate the effects of climate change,” Gachagua said.
During the conference, Chief Justice Martha Koome said that the judiciary recognizes climate change as the new frontier in environmental governance.
“This is so since climate change is the emblematic environmental challenge of our time,” she said.
Gachagua added that the Kenya Kwanza government is committed to providing sustainable solutions to climate change and is looking forward to the implementation of the outcomes from the conference.
The conference was attended by senior judiciary staff, representatives from academia as well as other non-state bodies such as the World Bank, UNHCR, USAID, County Governments, Food and Agriculture Organizations, and the diplomatic corps.
Among the resolutions adopted at the conference were the digitization of land records in court and the embracing of public participation. Urban planning, women’s rights to own property as well as the issue of building judicial capacity were also discussed at the conference.