Jan 16, 2012

SA jurist Sachs to help reform of Kenyan judiciary

Kenya has appointed leading South African jurist Albie Sachs to help clean up its judiciary, identified as one of the causes of the country’s poor ranking for ease of doing business there. Kenya’s judiciary has been accused of corruption, which makes it more difficult and more expensive to enforce contracts in the country. Former Constitutional Court Justice Sachs will be a member of the Vetting of Judges and Magistrates Board that will start work next week. All working judges and magistrates in Kenya will be vetted in line with the requirements of the country’s new constitution, and those found to be of doubtful conduct will be retired. "I feel deep and special honour to be associated with the Kenyan process. The world is watching keenly what is happening in this country," Justice Sachs said during his swearing-in ceremony at the offices of Kenya’s chief justice in Nairobi on Wednesday. According to the International Finance Corporation’s Doing Business 2011 report, enforcing a contract in Kenya requires 40 procedures, takes 465 days and costs 47,2% of the value of the deal. Kenya ranks 127th out of 183 economies on the ease of enforcing contracts. SA ranks 65th and Mauritius 61st. Kenya’s judicial reforms are part of wider reforms started after the 2008 post-election violence. They are expected to near completion by the next elections, likely to be held between December this year and March next year. A commission headed by another South African, Justice Johann Kriegler, investigated how the 2008 polls were conducted and recommended comprehensive electoral, judicial and constitutional reforms. Other foreign judges on the judicial vetting board are Judge Fredrick Chomba of Zambia and Ghana’s Chief Justice Georgina Wood. The vetting of judges and magistrates has public support in Kenya, despite being the moderate option compared with an earlier recommendation that all judges and magistrates be retired and new ones hired. Justice Sachs was appointed by former president Nelson Mandela to serve on the newly established Constitutional Court in 1994, and retired in 2009. (Business Day)

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