Chief Justice and the President of the Supreme Court bagged the 2017 Jurist of the Year Award from the International Committee of Jurists (ICJ) – Kenya Section in an event graced Zambia’s Retired Chief Justice Earnest Sakala.
The event which is celebrated on 10th December each year, seeks to give recognition, acknowledgment and encouragement to jurists who have consistently, fearlessly and impartially promoted the rule of law and human rights in Kenya during the year.
In his acceptance speech the Chief Justice said the award will only serve as a challenge for his urge to turn the judiciary into the best institution and noted that the growth of a nation is tied to its respect for the democratic space and called for the respect of constitutional institutions.
“The rule of law is the oxygen of any constitutional democracy. It is also the fulcrum upon which successful economies turn and thrive. Indeed, scholarly literature – whether in law, economics, philosophy, political science, or international relations, converge on one important thought: that the rule of law is a central and determinative factor in securing the political stability and economic development of any nation,” he said.
CJ Maraga became the first African Chief Justice to annul a presidential election, a move that saw him rattle feathers with President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Justice Maraga was also recognized as a natural leader who served as presiding judge of the Court of Appeal in Kisumu, and as chairman of the Judiciary Working Committee on Election Preparations (JWCEP), which transformed into a permanent Judiciary Committee on Elections (JCE)], which liaises with stakeholders, evaluates judiciary’s role in the preparation and conduct of elections and advises the Judiciary on how to efficiently and expeditiously deal with election-related disputes.
Former Zambian chief justice Ernest Sakala who graced the occasion castigated the immense human violations which are not unique to Kenya but to other African states too.
Given the judiciary experienced unprecedented attacks from the political class after it invalidated the August 8th polls, retired Justice Sakala called on the judges to stay put and be courageous. He further urged for the recognition of the judiciary as an equal arm of the government.
The award is conferred every 10th December to commemorate the United Nations International Human Rights Day. Justice Maraga was awarded at a dinner ceremony held at the ICJ Kenya offices on 11th December 2017 in Nairobi.