Kenya News

Martha Koome to host EAC Chief Justices convention

Chief Justices from the East Africa Community (EAC) converge in Kenya this week to engage in high-level talks on the role of courts as tools for economic development and social transformation.

Kenya’s Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court of Kenya, Martha Koome, who is the Chairperson of the Forum of East African Chief Justices will lead the meeting of legal minds that will also bring together judges of superior courts.

The high level forum is taking place jointly with the East African Judicial Education Committee (EAJEC), which started on December 14, 2021 to increase collaboration between regional Judiciaries and their Judicial Training Institutes.

The symposium, which runs until December 17, aims to identify emerging areas of interest and seek to strengthen the capacities of judges and judicial officers in the region.

The convention, which will be officially opened on December 15, 2021 will be used to adopt Rules of Procedures to guide and govern the activities of the Forum of EAC Chief Justices.

It is expected to increase knowledge and awareness among judges and judicial officers on enhancing access to justice, improve understanding of the critical role of courts as tools for economic development, social transformation and enhancing regional integration.

The East African Community as a regional economic bloc recognises the role of courts and the justice system as key players in fast tracking the integration agenda.

One of the key principles on which the EAC is anchored in Articles 6 and 7 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community, is respect for the rule of law.

The EAC acknowledges that ensuring the adherence to the rule of law in the partner States requires key interventions such as the enhancement of knowledge and capacity of judges and judicial officers through trainings and symposia on emerging issues.

They hinge on the evolving regional jurisprudence and other areas of the law; and convening of regular meetings to facilitate experience sharing, exchange of information and set policy on regional judicial matters.

Article 126 of the Treaty for the establishment of the East African Community calls for cooperation between partner States in judicial and legal matters, with a view to harmonising judicial and legal systems.

The EAC Secretariat accordingly seeks to implement this provision by convening the Meeting of the Judicial Education Committee, the East African Community Chief Justices Forum and the Joint Symposium.

The conference will seek to explore four thematic areas starting with the impact of e-justice on the marginalised and addressing individuals’ and organisations’ access to institutions of justice, primarily but not exclusively in courts, through e-justice.

The discussion will seek to clarify the legal, policy and institutional frameworks for promoting access to justice and investigate the link between poverty, vulnerability, marginalisation and access to e-justice.

The second thematic area is funding of the Judiciaries’ automation agenda. Court automation support can focus on diverse workflow processes, from random case assignment to electronic calendaring; e-filing to digital audio recording; case tracking to public information kiosks. The forum will seek to inform what processing and automation changes can be made within the existing legal framework and requisite resource capacities.

The third area is the role of courts in enhancing regional economic integration; the success of regional integration initiatives and the political stability and economic prosperity it offers has found support in many regions. Several countries in different parts of world have been inclined to embark on projects of regional integration.

The fourth focus of the conference is the role of arbitration and mediation in spurring business in the region.

One of the key features of East African regional trade has been the need for an effective framework for the management of commercial disputes. Considering the transnational nature of regional commerce, national courts do not appeal to the regional commercial community due to the uncertainties that may come with resorting to them for commercial disputes management. The symposium will seek to break down how arbitration and mediation attributes have spurred regional business.

Source: kbc

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