Coronavirus: Judiciary adapting to the COVID-19 crisis

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Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court of Kenya, David Maraga

The justice sector was quick to act after Kenya reported its first case of COVID-19 on 12 March 2020. Within three days, Chief Justice David Maraga chaired a meeting of the National Council on the Administration of Justice (NCAJ) to determine ways the justice sector could adapt immediately to the emerging challenges surrounding the pandemic, both individually and collectively.

Wide-ranging measures were agreed upon under an Administrative and Contingency Management Plan to mitigate COVID-19 in the justice sector, which recognized the critical need to protect members of staff and the public from infection and to prevent the spread of the disease. The plan took account of Government directives and the experience of other countries. An ad-hoc, inter-agency COVID-19 Sub-Committee was formed to advise the NCAJ on further precautionary measures, with the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice William Auko, appointed to lead it. Since that time, the justice sector’s response has been evolving in line with formal government directives, but coupled with a determination to continue to deliver vital justice services.

Among the reshaped support for the Judiciary is the production of an information poster – some 3800 of them – on how to wear facemasks. These laminated posters   will be for display at 126 courts across Kenya. A request to produce floor stickers to indicate social distancing has also been received and is in the process of confirming quantities.

The Programme for Legal Empowerment and Aid Delivery in Kenya (PLEAD) has been supporting the National Council of the Administration of Justice in distributing IT equipment and Personal Protective Equipment to the NCAJ’s member agencies, including the Kenya Prisons Service.

This is an example of how resources have been relocated by the Judiciary and its international partners to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic