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Use ICT to enhance access to justice – Kenya News Agency

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Deputy Chief Justice (DCJ) Philomena Mwilu has affirmed that Magistrates’ Courts must leverage on Information, Communication, and Technology advancements in the Judiciary to enhance access to justice.

Speaking during the closing ceremony for Magisrate under the theme of the ‘Heads of Station Forum’ at a hotel in Kisii County, DCJ Mwilu said the solutions provided by the data-tracking dashboard and e-filing system will enhance performance and accountability in the Judiciary.

“The use of data and ICT to enhance individual accountability and improve performance is here to stay. I would urge us all to recognise this and do the right thing,” she said.

DCJ Mwilu also underscored the importance of performance-based output, commonly referred to as Performance Management and Measurement Understandings (PMMU), as a cornerstone of the judiciary’s efficiency.

She encouraged the magistrates to engage in the implementation of their station’s PMMU with the utmost seriousness and sincerity and with an attitude of achieving people-centred service delivery.

The Deputy Chief Justice reminded them of the enormous task they bear in the overall responsibility and accountability for administration and human resource management, including wellness and psychosocial support.

She noted the importance of subordinate courts in accessing justice, saying that Magistrates and Kadhis’ courts are the engine of justice provision in the judiciary and the point of contact for the majority of Kenyans seeking justice through the formal judicial system.

As such, the DCJ said Magistrates were central to the achievement of the Judiciary’s strategic objectives for people-centred justice as contained in the Social Transformation through Access to Justice (STAJ) institutional vision.

She urged the Heads of Stations to practice shared leadership as espoused in STAJ but not abdicate overall responsibility for the effective administration and dispensation of justice.

“Shared leadership and inclusiveness require that you consult, partner, allow for robust and genuine public participation within constitutional confines, and, in the spirit of interdependence, enhance the ability of all actors to effectively realise their respective mandates,” said the DCJ.

“As Magistrates, you are not only adjudicators; you are justice promoters, connectors, and facilitators. Be cognizant of the particular justice needs and avenues in your constituency; be deliberate, innovative, and collaborative, developing people-centred activities and interventions that will have socially transformative impacts within these communities,” she added.

Speaking at the same forum, the Chief Registrar of the Judiciary (CRJ), Winfridah Mokaya, noted the need to increase the public’s and stakeholders’ understanding of the work done by the courts.

CRJ Mokaya pointed out the need for each and every court to have a way of reporting directly to the local community.

“Once the Chief Justice has constituted the State of the Judiciary and Administration of Justice Report (SOJAR) Committee for this year, we will work to develop a framework for reporting by stations to their immediate stakeholders at the local level to facilitate more meaningful engagement with our work,” she said.

In addition, the Chief Registrar noted that the Judiciary will increase its uptake of green energy.

“Power supply is a big challenge at many stations. Many stations have raised concerns about the solar backup. We will prioritise having a reliable solar power solution which can be deployed in as many stations as are in need,” she noted.

This year’s magistrates’ forum was held in Kisii County under the theme of “Enhancing Organisational Growth and Sustainability through Shared Leadership.”

By Mercy Osongo

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