She said the court will help victims get fair treatment and trials.
• CJ Koome also launched the first-ever special court for handling sexual violence cases at Shanzu Law Courts, Mombasa.
• Koome said that the courts would help preserve the dignity of victims and enhance fair trial within the tenets of the Constitution.
Chief Justice Martha Koome during the launch of the Specailised Sexual Gender Based Violence Court at Shanzu Law Courts, Mombasa. March 10, 2022.
Chief Justice Martha Koome has directed the Judiciary not to adjourn any Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) cases.
She was speaking during the launch of Kenya’s first-ever specialised SGBV Court at the Shanzu Law Courts in Mombasa on Thursday.
“When it comes to SGBV cases, courts are hereby directed to implement the ‘no adjournment policy’,” she said.
She said that the Judiciary’s data suggests that 56 per cent of adjournment is occasioned by external parties, the reason being that witnesses or parties were not present.
The Chief Justice said that she expected the courts to showcase best practices towards ensuring expeditious trials through stakeholder engagement and collaboration through the Court User Committees.
On March 10, Kenya joined the world in celebrating the International Day of Women Judges.
Koome lauded the International Women Judges Association, Kenya Chapter for championing the establishment of these courts across the country, starting with Shanzu.
“We had planned to launch the Specialised SGBV Courts before that horrible video of a young female motorist being molested went viral and the many invisible others that happen away from the public radar,” she said.
Koome said that the Special Court was a much-needed move towards guaranteeing access to justice for victims of SGBV, which rights groups have often lamented that they are denied due to Out-Of-Court settlements and other impediments.
In February, the Association of Media Women In Kenya (AMWIK) and partners such as the Coalition on Violence Against Women (COVAW) began a campaign petitioning for enhanced access to justice for victims.
The groups lamented that the Chief Justice had taken too long on her promise to set up these special courts to handle SGBV cases effectively.
“The SGBV Court is a reinforcing prompt of the urgency to align the Criminal Justice System towards a coordinated structure that preserves the dignity of victims and enhances fair trial within the tenets of the Constitution,” said Koome.
On Twitter, COVAW lauded the move by the Judiciary saying that it would help give victims much-needed justice.
“We celebrate the very significant steps to facilitate access to justice for SGBV survivors with the opening of the first specialised SGBV Court in Shanzu, Mombasa. Well done,” they said.
They added that they were optimistic that the landscape of handling SGBV cases in Kenya was only beginning to change for the better.
This article originally appeared in the The Star on 11th March 2022 by