Panel of jurists on Trial Observation Mission praises Supreme Court for fair case management

The panel of jurists who arrived in Kenya on August 28, 2022, to observe the Supreme Court’s hearings on presidential election petitions has left, applauding the court for fair case management and Kenya’s peaceful elections.

The 2022 mission, led by Retired Chief Justice of the Republic of Tanzania Mohammed Chande Othman, attended Supreme Court proceedings to monitor and document the petition hearing process.

Justice Henry Boissie Mbha of the Supreme Court of Appeal and former President of the Electoral Court of South Africa, Justice Moses Chinhengo, AJJF Chairperson, Justice of the Court of Appeal of Lesotho and former Judge of the High Courts of Zimbabwe and Botswana, Lady Justice Lillian Tibatemwa-Ekirikubinza of the Supreme Court of Uganda, and Lady Justice Ivy Kamanga of the Supreme Court of Appeal of Malawi were also on the mission.

The mission stated in a statement that it did not conduct a merit evaluation, but rather observed international human rights standards on fair trial, the role and independence of the judiciary in electoral dispute resolution, and the context of the elections in the run-up to presidential petitions. The mission’s composition also allowed the various judges to draw lessons on case management for presidential election disputes, which can serve as the foundation for African experience-sharing.

During their mission in Kenya, the panel met with President-elect William Samoei Ruto and former Prime Minister Raila Amolo Odinga, as well as the Law Society of Kenya (LSK), which was accepted as an amicus curiae to the petition.

In addition, the mission held bilateral meetings with Chief Justice Willy M. Mutunga and Chief Justice David K. Maraga, both former Chief Justices of the Republic of Kenya.

“These meetings allowed the mission to gain an understanding of the context of the conduct of the 2022 elections in Kenya and to share ideas on institutional strengthening as a means of consolidating democracy in Africa,” the mission said in their statement.

The panel also praised Kenyans for holding a peaceful election and the candidates for embracing the legal process.

“The mission would like to commend the Supreme Court for its management of the court process, particularly in light of the complexity of the matter, which was evidenced by the fact that this was the first time it was handling seven presidential petitions, with multiple volumes of evidence, within the 14 days circumscribed by the Constitution,” reads their statement in part.

The panel stated that all parties were given adequate opportunity to present their claims, with the petitioners receiving a full day, the respondents receiving a full day, and the final day reserved for rejoinders and submissions on the scrutiny report.

“Each side had full and competent legal representation, and the counsel’s conduct also allowed the court to effectively manage the time limit allocated for the hearings,” the panel said.

The mission stated that it will deliver a comprehensive report in the coming days.

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