Kenya is today facing scarcity of the judiciary as magistrates across the country continue to leave their job and the qualified lawyers are reluctant to apply for the vacant positions.
According to the Chief Registrar of the Judiciary Anne Amadi, though there has been an increase in the number of magistrates from 316 in 2010 to 443 in 2016, not less than 55 magistrates has left their jobs in the past three years. It is estimated that there is one magistrate for 100,000 Kenyans currently.
About 66 vacancies has been advertised but unfortunately only 31 magistrates were hired while some of the magistrates had been declared unfit to serve by the Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board (JMVB).
“Although the current establishment in the Judiciary has 443 magistrates, 31 of those are unable to exercise judicial functions for factors related to pending appeals against JMVB decisions, while nine are on interdiction,” Amadi said.
40 magistrates are therefore said to still be in the establishment but are yet unable to serve and more new magistrates would be joining them in the next one month as the Judicial Service commission (JSC) had on Friday, recruited and dispatched letters to about 31 new magistrates. The new team includes five chief magistrates and 26 senior resident magistrates.
The JSC has also proposed to increase the number of magistrates to 550 which would be distributed among the 116 courts across the country. The deployment of the new magistrates is likely to trigger the transfer of judicial officers to address the backlog of cases.
Meanwhile, the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) officials in Bungoma South have been bared by High Court from assuming office and any other official duty.
Report has it that the officials were bared by Lady Justice Njoki Mwangi. The 18 branch members including Knut, the County Labour Officer, Bungoma and the registrar of trade unions were sued for allegedly rigging the elections.
This was sued on February 25 by Godfrey Barasa who contested for branch executive secretary post, Kennedy Luketelo his assistant, Victor Kakenyi Chairman and four others.
The case is expected to be heard before Judge Ali Abida Aroni in Bungoma on March 7. The judge also ordered the Bungoma High Court deputy registrar to take into custody all the cast ballots of the elections pending the hearing and determination of the application.