International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has issued a cautionary note regarding the recent invitations extended by the executive to engage in a dialogue with the judiciary.
The warning comes amidst escalating tensions sparked by President William Ruto and his allies, who have publicly criticized the judiciary, alleging corruption within its ranks.
President Ruto, known for his vocal stance, has not minced words in accusing the judiciary of corruption, emphasizing his reluctance to comply with any court decision perceived as hindering his policy agendas.
The latest flashpoint emerged following the judiciary’s declaration of the Housing Levy as discriminatory.
Various organizations, including the Law Society of Kenya (LSK), have stepped forward to condemn what they view as unwarranted attacks on the judiciary Ruto and his supporters.
Demonstrations have ensued as a form of collective dissent against what many perceive as a threat to the independence of the judiciary.
Chief Justice Koome, while condemning the attacks, called for a dialogue between the executive and the judiciary to address the escalating tensions.
However, the ICJ, through its chairman Protas Saende, has voiced reservations about such a meeting, emphasizing the need to uphold the independence of different arms of the government.
“The Judiciary, as an equal arm of the government, must not be subjected to intimidation or forced into private discussions where the content and implications are not transparent,” asserted Saende.
“The Judiciary is not subservient to the Executive but is an equal partner in the government’s tripartite structure.”
Saende stressed that any talks between the executive and the judiciary must adhere to fundamental principles, including the separation of powers, transparency, accountability, and the preservation of democracy, the rule of law, and other national values and governance principles as enshrined in Article 10 of the Constitution of Kenya.
The ICJ chairman also expressed concern over remarks made by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua against Her Ladyship Justice Esther Maina.
Gachagua, who initially pledged to file a complaint against Justice Maina with the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), later backtracked on the commitment.
“The damage caused to the judge’s reputation is significant, indicating a lack of commitment to fair and unbiased discourse,” remarked Saende. “Considering the above, we are adamant that the invitation by the Executive may not be in good faith.”