Saturday, March 4, 2017

Alarm bells for military justice in Kenya

With a hearty hat tip to Aspals Legal Pages, the leading British military justice website, we learn of this article on deficiencies in the Kenyan military justice system. It tells, for example, of a 2015 case in which an acquittal led to the involuntary retirement of all members of the court-martial board. Excerpt:
The report, published by the National Council of Administrative Justice, rebukes how [the] military dispenses justice. 
It accuses military courts of being notorious for fair trial infringements ranging from “failure to hold the trial in an open court, denial of legal representation to inadequate time given to prepare.” . . . 
The report further questions the role of the Judge Advocate who is tasked with providing rulings only on matters of law, leaving the ultimate decision to be taken by military officers and giving the impression that the court does not provide impartial and independent decisions.
“The structure of the Act which leaves the Judge Advocate only deciding matters of law could be constitutionally contested on the grounds that the Court Martial is not a wholly independent or impartial court, as required in terms of fair trial rights. Currently officers both prosecute and decide on matters of fact, including the guilt or innocence of the accused,” reads part of the report.

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