CJ nominee David Maraga says MPs to decide fate of death penalty


CJ nominee David Maraga says MPs to decide fate of death penalty
CJ nominee Maraga during the vetting. [Photo/Vincent Afande]

The Chief Justice nominee, Justice David Maraga, has stated that the responsibility of withholding or abolishing the death penalty rests with Parliament.

Speaking when he appeared before the National Assembly’s Justice and Legal Affairs Committee for vetting, Justice Maraga, who was nominated for the position by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), said that as the Chief Justice, he would not have any powers to decide the fate of death penalty since it has to be abolished through an Act of Parliament.

“The world is moving away from the death penalty and this issue is also being debated in other countries. It is a fundamental issue but can only be dealt with by the Parliament; the court can only come up with principles of law within the given legal framework,” he said.

He also defended his ruling on a Kiambaa Church burning saying the evidence presented before him did not warrant a conviction.

In the case, Maraga acquitted all four suspects who were accused of torching the Kiambaa Church in January 2008, which killed 11 people, during the post-election violence.

The ruling sparked controversy with the aggrieved parties accusing the judge of failing to dispense justice.

Maraga, however, pointed an accusing finger at the police, accusing the team of carrying out shoddy investigations that could not lead to a conviction.

“My judgment on the case was not wrong. It was an unfortunate situation that involved self-defense. I do not subscribe to extra judicial killings,” he said.

If picked the next Chief Justice, Maraga said that he would implement the use of Information and Communication Technology in the judiciary to speed up the digitization of proceedings.

He further stated that already there is a pilot project for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) which would help sort out cases like assault to ensure reconciliation of parties involved.

Maraga added that he would encourage the use of mobile courts to deal with minor cases in remote areas to enable Kenyans access justice locally.

He praised former Chief Justice, Dr Willy Mutunga, for instituting reforms in the judiciary, adding that if appointed he would operationalise Legal Aids Act to benefit those who cannot afford justice to be sponsored under the fund.

The CJ nominee added that his duty as the Chief Justice would be to make sure everyone before court is accorded their constitutional right regardless of their religious affiliation saying his liberalism will only allow him to deal with cases according to the law.

He also called for independence of the three arms of government (Judiciary, Legislature and Executive) saying no arm has absolute powers over the other.

“I hold my view that the three arms of government are all accountable to the people. You cannot have a situation where a judge summons the Speaker of the House in his official capacity.”

He said his commitment, during his time at the Court of Appeal in Kisumu allowed him to clear 1,300 cases saying he would work on reducing the backlog in the Judiciary by allowing judicial officers to work together to serve litigants.

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Story By Benjamin Wafula
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