Kenya: High Court Rules to Protect Judicial Independence
In response to the Kenyan High Court finding unconstitutional several amendments to the Judicial Service Act that gave the President greater power in appointing the Chief Justice, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“Freedom House applauds the High Court for upholding key provisions of Kenya’s Constitution, which limits Presidential powers in appointment of the Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice,” said Vukasin Petrovic, director for Africa programs. “The court’s ruling is an important victory toward safeguarding the independence of Kenya’s Judiciary.”
In December 2015, Kenya’s National Assembly passed amendments to Section 30 (3) of the Judicial Service Act (2011) giving the President discretion to appoint the Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice. The amendment required the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to forward names of three qualified individuals for the vacant positions of Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice to the President for appointment instead of one name for each position.
In January 2016, the Law Society of Kenya challenged the constitutionality of the amendment in the High Court. Kenya’s Chief Justice has opted for early retirement in June 2016, and the process of recruiting the next Chief Justice by the JSC will begin as soon the position is vacant.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.