Chief Justice David Maraga has challenged Kenyans to embrace alternative dispute resolution strategy to address land rows choking civil registries in order to ease the backlog of such cases in courts. He said the number of land cases has continued to rise in Kakamega despite acceding to a request to start an Environment and Land Court.
The CJ also said Principal and Chief Magistrates courts have now been given jurisdiction to handle land matters with a value of up to Sh20 million. This, he said, will ease the pressure on High Courts and reduce the case loads across the country.
He also challenged the political leadership and clergy to join the campaign against rape through public awareness rallies to cut on the number of people getting life prison sentences for the offence.
Addressing court users and the public during the commissioning of Sh388 million modern High Court building in Kakamega, Maraga said rape has become a constant menace accounting for most of jail cases involving young Kenyans. This was the third High Court building launched by the Chief Justice this year.
Two weeks ago he laid the foundation stones for the Kwale and Mombasa High Court buildings both totalling Sh834 million. He said some of the murder cases were a direct result of land related disputes, which now account for at least 70 per cent of the civil cases waiting for judicial arbitration.
The CJ said it was time the country embraced a council of community elders to arbitrate on land cases to cut delays that always lead to escalation of disputes.
“We envisage having a High Court in each of the the 47 counties, although depending on size and population some could have two. We are also projecting that each of the 290 constituencies should have a magistrate’s court,” he said.
The meeting was also attended by presiding judge Ruth Sitati, outgoing LSK branch chairman Calistus Shifwoka and his successor Charles Matete, Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, his deputy Philip Kutima and deputy Speaker Morris Buluma.