You will recall that four weeks ago, the Judicial Service Commission addressed Kenyans through a press conference at this very place over the increasing incidence of attacks by various groups of people who were given to making threats and demands intended to interfere with the work of the Judiciary. Since the Supreme Court delivered the judgement on the 2017 Presidential Election Petition on September 1, 2017, these attacks have become even more aggressive, culminating in lengthy uninterrupted demonstrations right outside the Supreme Court Building yesterday and today. Whereas we recognise and respect the rights of citizens to picket as provided in the Constitution, these demonstrations have bordered on violence and are clearly intended to intimidate the Judiciary and individual judges.
Further, in a particularly unfortunate incident yesterday in Kirinyaga County, Hon. Martha Karua was blocked by demonstrators from accessing the Kerugoya Law Courts for the hearing of her own petition. This amounts to intimidation of petitioners and should never be allowed to happen. It is notable and worrying that these attacks are occurring at a time when the Judiciary is starting to hear the 339 petitions already filed in various courts. At the same time, individual judges, particularly of the Supreme Court, as well as other judicial officers and staff, have been attacked, threatened and negatively profiled on social media. Senior political leaders have also threatened the Judiciary promising ‘to cut it down to size’ and ‘teach us a lesson’. These attacks are denigrating, demeaning and degrading and are meant to intimidate, threaten and cow the institution and individual judges. Such acts are not only unlawful but also savage in nature.
In view of these unfortunate developments, the JSC would like to state that we unreservedly condemn these mindless acts of aggression against the Judiciary and reiterate that if anything happens to the individual judges, staff or their families, those making inciting statements will be personally held responsible. JSC notes with dismay that the Inspector-General of Police, who is expected to provide security to all Government facilities, has repeatedly ignored calls to act, exposing Judicial officers, property and litigants to danger. The Judiciary is an arm of Government equal to the Executive and the Legislature. If leaders are tired of having a strong and independent judiciary, they should call a referendum and abolish it altogether. Before that happens, the Judiciary will continue to discharge its mandate in accordance with the Constitution and individual oaths of office. The Judiciary has not and will never seek to direct the other arms about how to perform their functions. In the same vein, we will not allow anybody to dictate to us how to discharge our mandate as given by the people of Kenya under the Constitution. We want to state that the rule of law must be allowed to prevail at all times.
The Judicial Service Commission supports the Independence of the Judiciary as an institution as well as the independence of every Judge, Magistrate or Kadhi. We urge all judicial officers to proceed with their work in accordance with their constitutional mandate without any fear, favour or bias and in accordance with the responsibility accorded us by the people of Kenya. All sovereign power belongs to the people. We therefore will never agree to work in accordance with the whims and desires of the executive and Parliament. The Judiciary as currently constituted cannot and shall not guarantee a particular outcome to any individual. We call upon Kenyans of goodwill to stand up for the independence of the Judiciary and the rule of law. On our part, we are prepared to pay the ultimate price to protect the Constitution and the rule of law.”