Former Kenyan CJ – Judges avoiding media a ‘colonial mentality’

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A former Kenyan Chief Justice, Willy Mutunga, has cited “colonial mentality” as the reason for the failure of judges to regularly engage the media on happenings within the judiciary.

He said regular engagements between judges and the media would help boost public confidence in the judiciary.

Speaking on an interview with Godfred Akoto Boafo, Mutunga said judges, especially the Chief Justice, must avail herself to the media for questioning at least once a month, to expose the public to relevant information within the judiciary.

“Particularly, the Chief Justice should be able to on monthly basis talk to the media, let the media ask questions about the Judiciary, about the state of the country, how cases are being handled.”

Willy Mutunga, who is also a lawyer, said the practice of Justices shying away from the media at social events is unfortunate since the judges have a constitutional mandate to be accountable to the citizens.

“I think the main issue is that judges feel that they have to stay in their cacoons, even when they go to Church, weddings they don’t want to be interviewed, they don’t want to talk to people. They become aloof and bewildered, they get out of touch with the people.”

“What is this colonial mentality of Judges having to speak through their judgments? .. judgments are not every day. You can talk to the media and that is how you build, in my view confidence in the media,” he further stated.

He reminded the judiciary in Ghana and other parts of Africa that they owe allegiance to their constitutions which ultimately stipulates that Judges must be accountable to the citizens.

Touting some reforms he instituted during his tenure, Willy Muntaga said he ensured the creation of a media center at the Supreme Court to help journalists conveniently cover hearings at the court.

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