CJ Koome Outlines Procedure on How Judges Can be Arrested

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    CJ-Elect Martha Koome appears before MPs at Parliament on Wednesday, May 19, 2021
  • Chief Justice Martha Karambu Koome has outlined new procedures that will guide the arrest and subsequent prosecution of judges and magistrates.

    Speaking to reporters at her chambers on Thursday, September 2, the CJ made it clear that no judge should be arrested in line of duty: In their chambers or even in courtrooms.

    Koome insisted that in the event that a judge is wanted for any offense, the investigating bodies should first write an official letter to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), which will then decide if they should be arrested or not.

    "The same way you cannot arrest a Member of Parliament when they are about to go and debate or raid the State House, it is the same way you cannot raid the judges' chambers to arrest a judge or a magistrate," she stated.

    "They are not above the law, if somebody is infraction let somebody come and tell the Judiciary Service Commission which is in charge of disciplinary of the Judges."

    Chief Justice Martha Koome addressing state actors during the NCAJ meeting in July 16, 2021.
    Chief Justice Martha Koome addressing state actors during the NCAJ meeting in July 16, 2021.

    Koome argued that judges are respected members and should not be dragged to police cells where they meet the same people they have prosecuted. She also claimed that their arrests interfere with judicial independence.

    “This is a very heavy responsibility that falls on judges as well as magistrates,” she said.

    In a different interview with a local station, Koome remarked that the Judiciary had already engaged with the Ministry of Interior led by Cabinet Secretary, Fred Matiang'i, and tabulated a broad procedure that will guide the arrest of judges.

    “After dialogue, the JSC, the Interior Ministry CS and the Inspector General of Police have since come up with a committee to work on the guidelines. It will soon be presented to Kenyan’s when ready and they too can give their views on how they would want to see judges and magistrates dealt with if they break the law,” said CJ.

    In the new procedures, Koome also granted the members of public powers to raise complaints against judges through JSC.

    “They will call them and hear them out, if it shows that an offense is demonstrated then they can take action,” she noted.

    The new procedures have been informed by the picking and questioning of Justices Aggrey Muchelule and Said Juma Chitembwe by detectives drawn from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations.

    Justice Chitembwe Said Juma
    Justice Chitembwe Said Juma appearing before the JSC for his interview for the position of Chief Justice on Monday, April 12, 2021