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Assets Recovery Agency on the spot for ‘harassing, intimidating judges’

The Kenya Judges and Magistrates Association (KMJA) has condemned the method used by the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) to complain over alleged displeasure in a ruling made by the Court of Appeal judge.

The agency has been accused of using disparaging language against the judge in the statement that was widely shared on social media.

In a statement, KMJA chairperson Derrick Kuto said the agency tried to intimidate and harass the judges in their duties.

“We have taken note of the letter from the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) under the hand of its director dated 17th November 2023, hereinafter referred to us “the letter”,” Mr Kuto said.

He said that Article 160(1) of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 provides that “In the Exercise of Judicial authority, the Judiciary, as Constituted by article 161, shall be subject only to this Constitution and the law and shall not be subject to the control or direction of any person or authority.

Kuto stated in a letter to Chief Justice Martha Koome that the independence of all the Judges, Magistrates, kadhis, and all the Judicial officers were at stake.

“We take this letter as an Appeal against the decision of the learned and distinguished Judge all disguised as a “complaint.” The writer is duty-bound to follow the correct legal channels to do the appeal or review. Those are the legal procedures available to a party who wishes to challenge a court decision by a Judge. The letter amounts to an attack on the independence of the learned Judge,” Kuto said.

The letter from the agency had allegedly claimed that the Court of Appeal Judge did not rule fairly for the agency which had sought to withdraw a case, claiming that the ruling would damage its reputation, and undermine the integrity of the judicial system.

“The letter is meant to harass, intimidate, threaten, silence and generally have the Judge (and by extension other Judges and Judicial officers) make decisions in a particular or predetermined manner. The Kenya Magistrates and Judges Association is concerned about such write-ups. They are an affront to the independence of Judges and Judicial officers.”

Kuto has further said that judges and magistrates remain open and accountable in their work, which should not be equated to any dissatisfied person or entity directing the distinguished judges on the text, tenor, and content of their reasoned Judgments and/or rulings.

“We remain most obliged to the Honourable Chief Justice and appreciate the strides made in jealously guarding the Institutional and decisional independence within our Institution.”

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