Justice Mumbi Ngugi congratulated by the President upon being sworn in as Judge of the High Court
I was sworn in today, 2nd September 201,1 as a judge of the High Court of Kenya. As part of a team of 27 HighCourt Judges, I join the bench, after a competitive, rigorous and transparent process under a new Constitutional dispensation that values freedom, transparent, accountability and all those national values set out in Article 10 of the Constitution. I have of course been reflecting on what happens to this blog. For me, it has been a labour of love and a space where I can think aloud without the usual constraints that accompany old media. As an advocate I had the freedom to think aloud and make comments on any issue. My current position now makes this difficult. Judicial service comes with an obligation to be independent, impartial. A opinion blog like may lead the public to a different conclusion.
The Public Officers Ethics Act, 2003 (No. 4 of 2003) Judicial Service Code of Conduct and Ethics established by the Judicial Service Commission under section 5(1) of the Act provides as follows;
PUBLIC STATEMENTS AND COMMUNICATION WITH THE PRESS
1. A judicial officer and any officer in the Judicial Service shall not make public statements on matters affecting Government programmes or policies of the Judicial Service without the specific authority of the Chief Justice. A public statement includes communicating with the press;
2. A judicial officer shall not, without express permission of the Chief Justice:
(a) act as the editor of any newspaper or take part directly or indirectly in the management thereof; nor
(b) publish in any manner anything which may be reasonably regarded as of a political or administrative nature, whether under his own name, under a pseudonym or anonymously.
3. A judicial officer, and any officer in the Judicial Service whether on duty or on leave of absence, should not allow himself to be interviewed on questions of public policy affecting Kenya or any other country without the permission of the Chief Justice.
4. Whilst it is not desired to interfere with a judicial officer’s liberty of free speech, any lack of discretion on his part likely to embarrass the Government or the Judicial Service may result in appropriate consequences for the officer responsible.
This is not a easy or simple matter as Article 168 of the Constitution provides that a judge of a superior court may be removed from office only on grounds of, "a breach of a code of conduct prescribed for judges of the superior courts by Act of Parliament."
I hope that in the future that this there will be discussion how judicial officers can contribute to public discourse about administration of justice and rule of law, of course having regard to their ethical obligations to be independence. After all, the Constitution provides that judicial authority is derived from the people in whose name it is exercised.
Thank you all for your support in immeasurable ways. The proceedings on this blog are now adjourned sine die ….