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Shortage of judges crippling land cases, LSK says

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Half of Kenya is not served by the crucial court. PHOTO | FILE

Summary

  • Kenya has only 27 judges handling land and environment cases.
  • The 2010 constitution states that land matters cannot be handled by magistrate courts but only by gazetted judges in lands and environment courts.
  • The Court of Appeal has also been hit by a shortage of judges.

An acute shortage of judges is to blame for the backlog of cases in the Lands and Environment Court amid increased land ownership disputes in the country.

This is according to Law Society of Kenya (LSK) Bungoma chapter chairman, Amos Makokha, who expressed concern at the piling cases while appealing for more judges.

“Clients seeking services in such courts are having a hard time. Some of the cases date back to 15 years,” he said on Tuesday.

Mr Makokha says the country has only 27 judges handling land and environment cases, adding that the Judiciary should hire more judges so that they are can be concluded in good time.

Constitution

The 2010 constitution states that land matters cannot be handled by magistrate courts but only by gazetted judges in lands and environment courts.

“Due to lack of enough land judges, you can’t get a date this year at the Bungoma land and environment court. The only available date is in March 2018,” he said, adding that the shortage has delayed justice for aggrieved parties.

His sentiments echo that of Justice Samson Okong’o, a presiding judge of the Environment and Land Court, who in July this year said that half of Kenya is not served by the crucial court.

“The case disposal rate is low, the workload cannot be matched with personnel, clients are frustrated,” said Justice Okong’o.

The Court of Appeal has also been hit by a shortage of judges with the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) kicking off the search for eight new judges in August.

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