Currently a Court of Appeal Judge, human rights defender and advocate Lady Justice Martha Karambu Koome's name has been forwarded to President Uhuru Kenyatta for appointment — and we're holding thumbs for her!
Despite the world being 21 years into the 21st Century, women are still celebrating many firsts. This time, Kenya is poised to elect its first woman into the illustrious role of Chief Justice. Lady Justice Martha Karambu Koome emerged as the top pick out of ten candidates on the Judicial Service Commission's (JSC) 2021 list. The decision is said to have been unanimous.
Following a gruelling interview process, Justice Koome beat nine other qualified candidates. Also in the running for the position was Said Juma Chitembwe, Professor Patricia Mbote, Justice Marete Njagi, Philip Murgor, Justice Nduma Nderi, Fred Ngatia, Justice William Ouko, Dr Wekesa Moni and Alice Yano.
The nomination was not without contestation. Ngatia, one of the candidates, has disputed the nomination arguing that the JSC manipulated his scores, according to reports by Business Daily Africa.
On Tuesday the JSC released a statement denying the allegations. "The JSC has run an open, transparent and competitive recruitment process that has witnessed the participation of the public and key stakeholders," the statement read.
Known as the voice for women, Justice Koome stipulated that one of her top priorities was to reduce the backlog of cases. This, she plans to do by "reducing the backlog of cases through facilitating the appointment of additional judges and magistrates, operationalising the Judiciary Fund to promote its independence, promoting the use of technology as well as to building additional courts," reports Nation Africa.
During her interview, Justice Koome made it clear that it was her intention to tackle the patriarchal structure of the law. "The law supports patriarchal structures. The legal structure is dominated by patriarchy. Laws are made in Parliament and the dominant gender of Parliament is male," she told the interviewing panel.
Should her appointment be successful, Justice Koome will join a small but growing league of women Chief Justices on the African Continent including those from Sudan, Ethiopia, Zambia, Lesotho and Seychelles.