HAVI CONDEMNS JUDICIARY FOR CLOSING DOWN COURTS OVER DEATH OF MAGISTRATE.

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Kenya Magistrates and Judges Association President Justice Stephen Radido and former Law Society of Kenya president Nelson Havi.

BY PHOEBE WANJOHI.

Former Law Society of Kenya (LSK) president Nelson Havi has condemned Judiciary’s leadership move to shut down courts to mourn the death of slain magistrate Monica Kivuti.

Chief Justice Martha Koome ordered the closure of courts across the country, to mourn the death of Kivuti, who was shot during a court session and later succumbed to gunshot wounds.

In a statement, lawyer Havi said court should never be closed, not even for a day for any whatsoever reason.

He added that legal fraternity has over the years put in place elaborate mechanisms to mourn a deceased advocate, magistrate or judge. 

“It is therefore, inconsiderate and impertinent of the Chief Justice to unilaterally close all Courts and Tribunals in the Country on 18th June, 2024 and dictate that it is in the discretion of Courts and Tribunals to “accommodate” affected cases. Hundreds, thousands and millions of Kenyans have been affected by this decision.

The action may be forgiven but the legal fraternity should not countenance its repetition, he said.

Havi added that the deployment of a special armed Police Unit inside courtrooms is not the solution to insecurity.

“The Magistrate was killed by a senior armed policeman and not a civilian. A firearm, especially a rifle is the least effective weapon for close quarter combat or crowd control. A pistol is even worse unless in the hands of a highly trained elite commando. Let us have officers in Courtrooms who are trained in the manner appropriate for close quarter combat without guns,” he said.

Havi said the fascination with guns in courtrooms as a permanent solution to the tragedy must depart the minds of the legal fraternity.

He added that want of or inadequate transport and security for Magistrates cannot be a ground for KMJA and KJSA to withhold judicial services for three days and to threaten industrial action unless demands unrelated to the issue at hand are met.

He pointed out that 90 percent of court proceedings are conducted online with no human contact between courts and litigants.

“There is no communal peril to hinder members of KMJA and KJSA from serving Kenyans,” Havi said.

Besides, did the Kenya Airforce down tools following the death of the CDF in a plane crash? No! They took other planes, proceeded to the rescue, mourned, buried the fallen soldiers and proceeded with work as they find a solution to avert a similar tragedy. It will be gross misconduct for any Judge or Magistrate to heed the misinformed call by KMJA and KJSA not to sit and preside over matters from 19th to 21st June, 2024 or any other date thereafter. 

“There should be no hesitation on the part of affected litigants and Advocates to lodge petitions with the JSC for the removal of any such Judge or Magistrate who will abscond work or sabotage the delivery of judicial services in Kenya,” he says. 

He said an inquiry must be undertaken by the JSC, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the National Police Service to establish the circumstances under which the Magistrate is alleged to have cancelled the bond of an accused person.

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