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CJ Koome breaks silence on abduction of protesters, vows to extend court hours to hear cases

Chief Justice Martha Koome has raised serious concerns over the abduction of protesters taking part in the anti-Finance Bill 2024 demonstrations staged in different parts of the country.

In a lengthy statement on Tuesday, June 25, 2024, the Chief Justice explained that cases of abductions executed by individuals who do not properly identify themselves and without presenting the abducted individuals before a court of law, amount to a direct assault on the rule of law, human rights, and constitutionalism.

Koome made it clear that those orchestrating the arbitrary abductions are watering down the progress made in the 2010 promulgated constitution.

” Our Transformative Constitution mandates that law enforcement operates strictly within the confines of the Bill of Rights and the law. Article 49 specifies the rights of arrested persons, including the right to be informed of the reason for the arrest, to communicate with an advocate and others whose assistance is necessary, and to be presented before a court as soon as reasonably possible-but no later than twenty-four hours after the arrest.

Some of the missing social media influencers and activists. PHOTO/ @bonifacemwangi/ x

“Furthermore, Article 51 addresses the rights of persons detained or held in custody, including their entitlement to petition for an order of habeas corpus,” the President of the Supreme Court stated.

Among those reported missing are newspaper columnist Gabriel Oguda and influencer Osama Otero. Both reported their abductions on social media moments before being seized.

The whereabouts of another vocal social media user, Shad Khalif, remains unknown after being abducted outside a shopping centre in South B, Nairobi.

Orders to state agencies

Bearing in mind the demands of the Constitution, CJ Koome has directed all state agencies within the justice sector to uphold their constitutional duties and ensure that their actions are compliant with both the Constitution and the law.

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“Agencies within the justice sector, working under the auspices of the National Council on the Administration of Justice (NCAJ), have in the past committed to working towards ensuring that ours becomes a human rights-based criminal justice system that adheres to the Constitution, particularly the Bill of Rights, and the law.

“I therefore urge all agencies in the justice sector to process any criminal actions lawfully and to investigate and address the allegations regarding abductions related to the ongoing protests with utmost urgency,” Koome explained.

Protests in Mombasa on June 25, 2024. PHOTO/Reuben Mwambingu
Protests in Mombasa on June 25, 2024. PHOTO/Reuben Mwambingu

Assurance to protesters

Nonetheless, CJ Koome has vowed to ensure courts across the country operate beyond normal working hours to ensure that the abducted persons are presented in court.

She further added that the courts will consider all the petitions presented to ensure that justice is served to the protesters.

“I take this opportunity to assure the nation that the courts are prepared to operate beyond standard working hours if the abducted persons are presented before court and also to consider any petitions for habeas corpus. This commitment is to ensure that our nation continues on the path of the rule of law and constitutionalism and to guarantee that all state and non-state actors operate within the strict boundaries erected by our Bill of Rights.”

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