Judiciary suspends open court appearances, conferences, foreign trips over coronavirus

Judiciary suspends open court appearances, conferences, foreign trips over coronavirus
File image of the Judiciary. PHOTO| COURTESY

The Judiciary has announced a raft of new measures aimed at protecting its staff as well as the public from coronavirus infection and to prevent the spread of the disease.

In a statement issued on Sunday, the National Council for the Administration of Justice led by Chief Justice David Maraga said open court appearances will remain suspended for the next two weeks beginning Monday, March 16.

“In compliance with the directive issued by the National Emergency and Response Committee, we shall forthwith scale down court activities throughout the country over the next two weeks effective tomorrow, March 16, 2020 in order to allow further consultations and design appropriate measures to prevent the spread of the virus. During this time, prisoners and remandees will not be presented to court,” said the Judiciary in a statement.

The Judiciary has further resolved that during the two-week period, with regard to new arrests, all cases except serious ones will be dealt with at the police stations in accordance with guidelines to be issued by the Inspector General of Police.

All appeals, hearings and mentions in Criminal and Civil cases as well as execution proceedings in all courts have also been suspended with immediate effect.

The courts will, however, continue to handle certificates of urgency and taking plea for serious cases.

“During this time, all judicial officers and staff will continue being on duty. However, there will be no open court appearances,” reads the statement.

The Chief Justice has also suspended all conferences, workshops, and training programmes for judicial staff until further notice.

For the next 30 days, staff in the Judiciary will also not be allowed to travel out of the country whether on official or private duty except on special ciurcumstances.

“There will be no foreign travel for the next 30 days for staff of the justice sector institutions, whether official or private, save for exceptional circumstances,” adds the statement.

Meanwhile, an ad-hoc Inter-Agency Committee has been established to liaise with the National committee and advise the Judiciary on further precautionary measures on an ongoing basis.

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Story By Benjamin Muriuki
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