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Kenya-somalia maritime case stalls due to budget cuts

By Susan Muhindi

PETITION: Lawyer Kibe Mungai representing petitioner

A three-judge bench presiding over the Kenya-Somalia maritime border dispute has said it’s unable to render its decision owing to the recent Judiciary budget cut.

Justices Kanyi Kimondo, Robert Limo and Anthony Mrima were to deliver their judgement yesterday on whether Kenya should withdraw from the maritime dispute with Somalia at the Hague-based International Court of Justice.

But in a notice addressed to advocates involved in the case, the deputy registrar of the Constitutional and Human Rights division, said the judgement will be delivered on notice.

The budget cut has made it infeasible for the judges who are stationed in different places to convene and write the judgement.

“Take notice that the above judgement which was to be delivered by a three-judge bench yesterday will now be delivered on notice. Parties will be notified of the new judgement date through their advocates once directions are given. We regret the inconvenience caused,” the notice read.

Treasury slashed Judiciary’s budget by Sh3 billion last month, citing revenue shortfalls and need to raise funds for President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four agenda.

The Judiciary had requested Sh31.2 billion, but Parliament allocated it Sh14.5 billion, which Treasury slashed to Sh11.5 billion.

The maritime case is among many others countrywide that have stalled owing to the budget cuts.

The case was filed by human rights crusader Kiriro wa Ngugi. Through lawyer Kibe Mungai, Kiriro and 19 others had contended that Kenya’s participation in the  maritime dispute before the ICJ was unlawful on grounds that the delegation of sovereign powers of the people to the Executive through the AG is limited and does not include engaging in actions that may alter Kenya’s territory and territorial waters without reference to the people through a referendum.

They protested that the Attorney General, the Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary and the Kenya International Boundaries Office should not be allowed to “meekly escort Kenya into an international judicial slaughterhouse.”

But AG Kihara Kariuki has since rejected the pleas by Kiriro wa Ngugi that Kenya should withdraw from the maritime dispute at the ICJ.

Kariuki, CS Foreign Affairs Monica Juma and the Kenya International Boundaries Office  told the court yesterday that they had taken steps calculated solely at protect Kenya’s territorial integrity and political independence.

Source: The Star

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