By Missing Voices Team
Published April 30, 2022
The judiciary is committed to expeditious disposal of extrajudicial killings cases in court and does not intentionally delay cases, Presiding Judge at the High Court Criminal Division Lady Justice Grace Nzioka has said.
The judge was reacting to concerns raised by the Missing Voices report focusing on delayed justice in cases of police killings. The report listed several cases that had taken long in court without realization of justice for the victims. Some of the cases listed includes the Mavoko 3 (Willie Kimani, Joseph Muiruri and Josephat Mwenda) and Mukuru 8 cases that have been in court for six years.
“The longer the cases drag in court, the harder the healing process for victims and survivors whose wounds are continuously reopened with every court date,” the report noted.
Justice Nzioka agreed that indeed one of the cases that had been highlighted was that of Willie Kimani, Josephat Mwenda and Joseph Muiruri that occurred in 2016. The Judge said that she was aware that the case had taken six years and could lead to a lack of trust in the judiciary.
“It is a fact any Kenyan waiting for justice for six years will feel fatigued, frustrated and most likely lose confidence not just in the general justice system but in the criminal justice system,” she said.
The judge said it was not intentional for such a case to take long, but several factors lead to such delays, “Lady Justice Lessit who is hearing the matter has heard 44 witnesses, and she has over 5,000 handwritten pages of evidence. If a judge has to hear one witness for about 3,4,5 days, just evidence in chief, you have about 14 or 20 lawyers cross-examining that witness you will do appreciate that it would take time.”
IPOA and ODPP blamed
Justice Nzioka blamed investigations and prosecutions teams for most of the delays in cases by filing cases with gaps.
She said, ”If you bring me a matter I am ready to proceed but the Independent Police Oversight Authority and Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions do not bring witnesses what can the court do?”
Justice Nzioka called on all actors in the criminal justice system to play their role in enabling the courts to administer justice swiftly. The Lady Justice said numerous adjournments of cases defeat justice.
“I can assure you as a judge if you bring me witnesses and bring to my knowledge the sensitivity, the need, the demand, am willing to lay aside every other case and do take this case, finalise with it and move on, but if you do not enable me it is going to be extremely difficult,” Justice Nzioka said.
The Missing Voices documented 219 cases of police killings and enforced disappearances in 2021.
“Out of these, 187 cases were of police killings, and 32 of enforced disappearances. Of the 32 cases of enforced disappearances, two of the victims were later found alive after campaigns by civil society organizations,” reads the report titled Delayed Justice.
The report adds, “Originally there were 36 cases of enforced disappearances; four of these were found dead more than 24 hours after disappearing in police custody, two were returned alive and 30 remain missing. These 219 cases of police killings and enforced disappearances resulted from 161 separate incidents.”
Pangani police station most notorious
Pangani police station was ranked as the most notorious station in 2021 with 30 people killed throughout the year except in June.
Six recommendations by the report include the enactment of a law on enforced disappearances or amending existing legislation to criminalize enforced disappearances. The law should include recourse and reparations for victims and their families.
The civil society also calls on ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
The report recommends that cases of police killings and enforced disappearances be expedited in court and prosecution to work with the judiciary to provide a realistic timeline for when they will be resolved among other recommendations.
Following the recommendations, the presiding judge said the judiciary will as an institution read through the report to get out action points that they need to act on, reflect on them and find out what can be done.
“My plea today is this, even as we reflect on this report, the issues, recommendations, the challenges, it will be very important for each of us to play our roles,” she said.
Justice Nzioka thanked Missing Voices and all those involved in the launch of the report and promised that the judiciary will work with them.
Justice Nzioka spoke on Wednesday, April 27, 2022, in Nakuru city during the official launch of the report at Nyayo Gardens, a public park in the city. Nzioka represented Chief Justice Martha Koome who was the Chief Guest.
Deputy head of mission embassy of Switzerland Patrick Eglof and Kenya National Commission on Human Rights vice-chairperson Dr Raymond Nyeris attended. Another acting director of investigations at IPOA, Evans Okeyo among other government representatives from the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions and National Police Service.