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GENDER BIAS: The Judiciary
Image: FILE
 
In Summary
  • Of the 175 judges 95 (54 per cent) are male, while 80 (46 per cent) are female.
  • The total number of employees at the Judiciary stood at 5,233 as of July 1, 2021.

The Judiciary could be among the top government institutions about to achieve gender parity in employment at all levels.

In a new report by Registrar of Judiciary Anne Amadi, the number of women and men from the Supreme Court to the magistrate courts, across all categories of employment, is almost equal. 

The details emerged just a month after Martha Koome was sworn in as the first Kenyan female Chief Justice. Koome is deputised at the Supreme Court by Philomena Mwilu.  

The principal judge of the High Court and of the Employment and Labour Relations Court are Justice Lydia Achode and Maureen Onyango respectively

In the new report to the Senate Standing Committee on National Cohesion and Equal Opportunity, Amadi said the Judiciary has a total of 175 judges.

Out of these, 95 (54 per cent) are male, while 80 (46 per cent) are female.

Out of the total 538 judicial officers, 279 (52 per cent) are men and 259 (48 per cent) are women. 

For the other  staff, the Judiciary has a total of 4,520 staffers.

Here, women are the majority at 2,333 (52 per cent), while men are 2187 (48 per cent) .

The total number of employees at the Judiciary stood at 5,233 as July 1, 2021.

This, the report indicated, has been enabled by a policy that guides it during hiring.

“The policy affirms that the Judiciary is an equal opportunity employer and shall not in its recruitment and selection process, discriminate [against] on the basis of gender, race, religion, ethnicity or any other form of discrimination,” it said. 

As it stands, the Judiciary’s top leadership comprises of the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice, Supreme Court judges, Court of Appeal judges, Chief Registrar, Deputy Chief Registrar, registrars, directors and deputy directors.

There are a total of 29 Supreme and Court of Appeal judges, 15 men and 14 women.

There are six registrars, three men and three women, and 15 directors (nine male and six female).

The report said the Judicial Service Commission has put in place measures to promote equal opportunity and inclusivity as well as enhance access to justice for persons living with disability.

The report said the “International Association of Women Judges -Kenya Chapter (IAWJ-KC) has also been instrumental in pursuing gender equality measures through sensitisation and production of gender sensitisation knowledge products that can be weaved within the routine judicial work.”

“The Judiciary Gender Mainstreaming Policy seeks to promote gender awareness and sensitivity, as well as equal opportunities in recruitment, promotion, training and career advancement within the Judiciary,” it added.

The report added that the Judiciary has undertaken several steps to confront the barriers to access to justice for persons living with disability.

It noted that the Judiciary Disability Mainstreaming Policy seeks to ensure persons with disabilities have equal opportunities in the workplace.  

The policy also seeks to improve employment prospects for persons with disabilities by facilitating recruitment, job retention and opportunities for advancement.

The Judiciary also has an assistive allowance to eligible persons (employees on wheel chair or blind), provision of assistive devices, effecting tax (Pay as You Earn) exemptions, extension of retirement age to 65 years once relevant documents are submitted.

Ramps have also been installed in all newly constructed courts across the country.

“By putting in place policies, systems and structures that enhance diversity and inclusivity, equality, equity and affirmative action, the Judiciary is committed to uphold the Constitution of Kenya 2010 not only through judicial roles but also through all aspects of its administrative and judicial operations,” the report added. By Allan Kisia, The Star

 

Nairobi July 8, 2021— In light of Burundi’s decision to lift bans on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and pro-government news site Ikiriho, the Committee to Protect Journalists called on the country to reinstate all banned media outlets. CPJ also expressed alarm at the conditions the U.S. Congress-funded Voice of America (VOA) said were placed on it by authorities for its reinstatement in the country.

On June 16, Burundi’s media regulator, the National Communication Council (CNC), said the BBC, banned since May 2018, could reapply for a license to operate in the country, according to the BBC, the regulator’s statement, which CPJ reviewed, and news reports. The CNC also announced the lifting of a 2018 ban of Ikiriho, according to tweets by the media outlet; reports from 2018 said Ikiriho was banned amid a defamation probe.

Several other outlets are still unable to operate in Burundi, including VOA, which has been suspended since 2018 for allegedly airing content that lacked balance and which was prejudicial to Burundi’s relations with the United Nations, CPJ documented at the time. In a June 23 email, VOA told CPJ that authorities had conditioned the lifting of the ban on the “handing over a VOA Swahili journalist the Burundi authorities want to arrest,” something that the outlet “will not negotiate.” The VOA spokesperson did not name the journalist.

In statements sent via messaging application, CNC Vice President Laurent Kaganda told CPJ that the regulator had not demanded an arrest but that the VOA ban would only be lifted “once the question of the journalist in conflict with Burundian law is resolved.”

“Despite tentative gestures toward allowing more news media to work, the outrageous demand that a journalist be surrendered to authorities before the VOA’s suspension can be lifted and the continued silencing of other outlets show that Burundi remains a fundamentally hostile environment for the press,” said CPJ’s Sub-Saharan African representative, Muthoki Mumo. “Authorities should expedite the restoration of the BBC’s license; lift the VOA suspension without condition; remove all restrictions on other media outlets; and guarantee that journalists can operate freely.”

In 2019 the CNC indefinitely renewed its suspension of VOA, citing the station’s employment of Patrick Nduwimana, an exiled Burundian journalist whom authorities said was sought by law enforcement, as CPJ documented. At the time, VOA told CPJ that Nduwimana was working in its Kiswahili service. Kaganda confirmed to CPJ that Nduwimana is the VOA journalist in question.

In February this year, Burundi’s Supreme Court made public a June 2020 conviction of seven exiled journalists including Nduwimana, who were tried in absentia and without legal representation, for alleged complicity in a 2015 attempted coup, according to a copy of the court’s announcement reviewed by CPJ. In comments published in a VOA report on July 2, Nduwimana termed allegations that he was involved in violence in the 2015 coup as “false and baseless.”

The BBC was suspended from operating in Burundi in May 2018, after the regulator accused it of broadcasting “exaggerated, non-verified, defamatory” comments about then-President Pierre Nkurunziza, as CPJ documented at the time (Nkurunziza died in 2020). In 2019, the CNC withdrew the BBC’s license after the outlet aired a documentary on alleged torture, which officials said was false and slanderous, as CPJ documented.

In an email to CPJ, a BBC spokesperson welcomed the CNC’s statement to allow the station to seek a new license and said that the broadcaster “look[s] forward to working out what the next steps are” in negotiations. In his June 28 messages to CPJ, Kaganda said that the CNC was still waiting for the BBC to submit a request for a new license, and that the regulator would respond to such a request in a day, followed by discussions about “the rights and obligations of the BBC and CNC” before the broadcaster can reopen in the country. Reached via messaging app, Ikiriho director Philippe Ngendakumana declined to speak to CPJ.

Among the other outlets banned in Burundi are the privately owned Radio Publique Africaine, director Bob Rugurika told CPJ via messaging app, and the privately owned Renaissance Radio and Television, director Innocent Muhozi told CPJ via messaging app. They said that both stations, now operating from exile, have been unable to operate in Burundi since 2015. Rugurika and Muhozi are also among the seven exiled journalists convicted in absentia for alleged involvement in the 2015 attempted coup.

When asked about the status of these two stations, Kaganda claimed the outlets had failed to respond to a February 2021 invitation to a meeting between the CNC and banned media, to discuss reopening. Rugurika and Muhozi told CPJ that their stations had not received any communication from the Burundian authorities.

In February, the CNC promised to lift a 2017 block on the website of the independent media group Iwacu, according to a report by the news outlet. Even though Kaganda claimed that the website has been unblocked in Burundi, a June 22 report by Uganda-based digital rights group the Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) said the site remained inaccessible in the country. Speaking via Messaging application, Iwacu’s founder, Antoine Kaburahe, told CPJ that as of July 6 the news site is only accessible via the use of virtual private networks (VPN) or a mirror website.

Last year CPJ wrote to Burundi’s president, Évariste Ndayishimiye, weeks after he took office in June 2020, calling on him to break with the country’s history of media repression, including by lifting media bans and discontinuing criminal cases against journalists. Four Iwacu journalists were pardoned and freed in December after more than a year of imprisonment, according to media reports. However, on June 21, CPJ and 11 organizations noted that “the media environment in Burundi remains severely restricted,” in a joint letter urging the European Union to prioritize human rights in ongoing diplomatic negotiations with Burundi. 

Reached via telephone on June 24, presidential spokesperson Willy Nyamitwe asked that CPJ call back in 10 minutes. He did not answer subsequent calls from CPJ on June 24 and June 25, and has not responded to questions sent via text message, an email from CPJ, or to a message submitted through his personal website. - Committee to Protect Journalists

A herd of elephants graze in plains of the Mara North Conservancy, Kenya, Dec 21, 2020. (Getty Images) 
 

Plans by an animal charity to fly a herd of elephants from a British zoo to Kenya for "rewilding" raised concerns in the country Wednesday.

The Aspinall Foundation said it plans to take the elephants on a Boeing 747, dubbed the Dumbo jet, from southern England to their new home 7,000 kilometers (4,500 miles) away.

The charity said it would work with anti-poaching teams to help ensure the long-term survival of the 13 animals – including three babies – once they reach one of two sites under consideration in southern Kenya.

But Kenya's Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife said it "noted with concern" the reports in the British media about what the charity has described as the first rewilding project of its kind.

"The ministry wants to state that neither them nor the Kenya Wildlife Service have been contacted or consulted on this matter," the ministry said. "Relocation and rehabilitation of an animal from a zoo is not easy and is an expensive affair." 

A ministry official told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that the Kenyan authorities would be guided by specific regulations drawn up by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) on the movement of animals.

The IUCN warned in March that poaching and habitat destruction, particularly due to land conversion for agriculture, was devastating elephant numbers across Africa.

The population of African savanna elephants shrank by at least 60% in the last half-century, prompting their reclassification as "endangered" in the latest update to the IUCN's "Red List" of threatened species.

The Aspinall Foundation said the operation was planned for next year and that it would be the first time a breeding herd of elephants will have been rewilded.

Aspinall's head of communications Carrie Johnson, wife of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, said the plan would support Kenya's economy after the coronavirus pandemic.

"Life in Kent is pretty good for these elephants, all things considered. But Africa is where they belong," she said in an article published in the British media. Daily Sabah

A nurse administers the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to a woman at the Butanda Health Centre III in western Uganda, April 27, 2021. Photo AP

 

KAMPALA, UGANDA - Edward Bindhe was diagnosed in early June with COVID-19. Upon consultation with a doctor, he bought drugs off the shelf and stocked up on local herbs.

Then, with a collapsed lung, failed breathing and total body weakness, Bindhe, who had just lost two relatives to COVID-19, was admitted to a private hospital.

Bindhe, who is continuing to receive treatment as an outpatient, said that while in the ward, a cashier constantly visited his bed reminding him of his accumulating medical bill.

“After two days of admission, the hospital told me they needed me to advance some money, 2.5 [million shillings or $750], and I did not have it anyway," he said. "That’s when I was then transferred to the COVID ward. Thereafter, on 29th, like, I started getting better. And the doctor said, ‘No, now we can discharge you.’ So, at discharging me, that’s when they gave me a medical bill of 8.8 [million shillings, or $2,482].”

Overcharging patients, early dismissals

Through June, local media was awash with reports of hospitals overcharging patients, pushing some families to abandon deceased loved ones in hospitals, while some patients were released from hospitals for failure to pay their bills.

It is for those reasons that Moses Mulumba, the head of the Center for Health, Human Rights and Development, a health advocacy organization, petitioned the High Court in Kampala on June 28, seeking intervention.

The court ruled Thursday that Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng and the attorney general must intervene by making regulations for reasonable fees payable to hospitals for management and treatment of COVID-19 patients.

The court also ordered the Uganda medical and dental practitioners council to make recommendations to the minister of health regarding reasonable fees chargeable by hospitals for treatment and management of persons suffering from COVID-19.

Mulumba said he was happy they got a consent judgment.

“The government has been watching the pandemic for over a year. And it has done all the steps," he said. "But many of these steps are toward making sure the individual is contained, the individual is held accountable. And it was a very simple ask: that when it comes to a pandemic like COVID-19, the minister should invoke her powers under the public health legislation to actually regulate the actors. Because we believe that the actors are part of the national response. And if they are part of the national response, they need to look at themselves not just as businesspeople.

The few Ugandans who were admitted to public health centers offering free treatment still faced other challenges.

Irene Nakasita spent three weeks in a referral hospital in Jinja after she failed to get admitted at the Mulago National Hospital, where she was told there were no beds left.

Now, back in a private hospital to deal with the side effects of COVID-19 drugs administered to her at the public hospital, Nakasita said that while the government can intervene in the affairs of private hospitals, they need to improve services in the public facilities to save Ugandans from heavy bills.

'Pay the doctors'

“I know how I suffered," she said. "So, let government fix issues in the government facilities so that people are comfortable to go there and get medicine. And then also pay the doctors. Because partly why I suffered in Jinja, some of those doctors were complaining they were not paid and now their lives are being risked to attend to COVID patients. They never attended to us — they left us in the hands of nurses.”

Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka said the court order would be followed.

“We are going to advise the Ministry of Health to comply with the order of court,” Kiwanuka said. “And the Ministry of Health and the medical council need to meet and engage with the medical practitioners and get back to court with the compliance.”

At a government news conference last week, the head of the Uganda health care federation said 45 percent of patient bills are driven by personal protective equipment, oxygen and medication. - Halima Athumani, Voice of America

ODM party leader Raila Odinga during the swearing in of NEC and NDC officials at Chungwa house, Nairobi on August 13 2020.
Image: DOUGLAS OKIDDY

ODM leader Raila Odinga has dismissed assertions that he is waiting for President Uhuru Kenyatta’s endorsement in the upcoming 2022 general elections.

The former prime minister said he has at no time in his political life depended on endorsements to vie for any given seat.

"I am not looking for an endorsement from anyone. I don't depend on endorsements in my life. My whole political career has been about service to the people not endorsements,” he said in an interview with Radio Citizen on Thursday. 

Raila, saying he will not speak of his 2022 plans until after the BBI, added that should he choose to vie, he “will be looking for votes, not endorsements."

"I will be looking for votes from President Uhuru and others if I decide to vie for the Presidency. I will not be looking for endorsements."

The former PM exuded the confidence that the country still has a chance to hold a referendum to implement the BBI recommendations.

He said the timing of the plebiscite should not be a worry since the activity does not require the kind of resources for conducting a general election.

“There is still time for a referendum. We have a year to elections. It can be done even if it gets to December…nothing stops us from doing so,” the ODM leader said.

"I am not looking for an endorsement from anyone. I don't depend on endorsements in my life. My whole political career has been about service to the people not endorsements." ODM leader Raila Odinga

Raila said he was confident the courts will deliver justice and allow Kenyans to have a say in the proposed constitutional changes.

“If justice is served, reggae will come back. I am ready for the outcome of the courts. If the courts decide against us, we will accept the verdict much as we wouldn’t agree with it,” he said. 

The BBI is seeking to introduce an expanded executive to include a prime minister and two deputies as well as increase the share of revenue to counties to 35 per cent.

Raila said most of the proposals in the BBI document require a vote of the people to either approve or reject the same. By Moses Odhiambo, The Star

 

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