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Chief Justice Martha Koome breaks silence on abduction of protestors

CJ Koome says the Judiciary will not tolerate undermining of human rights

Chief Justice Martha Koome speaking during a past event
  • Chief Justice Martha Koome condemns recent abductions of protesters in Kenya
  • Calls for immediate action to address violations and uphold constitutional principles
  • Highlights the specific rights of arrested and detained persons under the Constitution

In a strongly-worded statement released on June 25, 2024, Chief Justice Martha Koome condemned the recent abductions of protesters amidst the ongoing mass demonstrations against the Finance Bill 2024.

Highlighting the importance of constitutional rights and the rule of law, the Chief Justice called for immediate action to address these serious violations.

Chief Justice Koome expressed her "deep concern" regarding the allegations of abductions carried out by individuals who failed to identify themselves and did not present the abducted individuals before a court of law.

"Such actions amount to a direct assault on the rule of law, human rights, and constitutionalism," she stated, emphasising that these principles are core national values enshrined in Article 10 of the Constitution.

She said that Article 49 specifies the rights of arrested persons, including the right to be informed of the reason for the arrest, the right to communicate with an advocate, and the requirement to be presented before a court within 24 hours.

Article 51 further addresses the rights of detained persons, including their entitlement to petition for an order of habeas corpus.

"Any deviation from the stipulations of the Bill of Rights and the law not only invites anarchy and lawlessness in our country but also constitutes a severe assault on the value-order of governance stipulated in Article 10 of the Constitution," Justice Koome warned.

The Chief Justice called on all agencies within the justice sector to uphold their constitutional duties.

She stressed the need for a human rights-based criminal justice system, urging these agencies to "process any criminal actions lawfully and to investigate and address the allegations regarding abductions related to the ongoing protests with utmost urgency."

Justice Koome reassured the public that the Judiciary is prepared to extend its working hours if necessary to ensure that abducted individuals are promptly presented before the court and that any petitions for habeas corpus are considered.

"This commitment is to ensure that our nation continues on the path of the rule of law and constitutionalism," she affirmed.

The Chief Justice also highlighted the past efforts of the National Council on the Administration of Justice (NCAJ) to work towards a criminal justice system that adheres to the Constitution.

She called on all justice sector agencies to "operate within the strict boundaries erected by our Bill of Rights."

Justice Koome concluded by stating, "We will not tolerate any actions that undermine the constitutional rights of the people of Kenya. The Judiciary stands firm in ensuring that the rule of law prevails and that justice is served."

This statement comes amid increasing reports of abductions and unlawful detentions of protestors and activists, sparking widespread public outrage and concerns over human rights abuses in Kenya.

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