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Regional court orders Kenya to pay Martha Karua $25,000 over poll petition

The East Africa Court of Justice (EACJ) has awarded Kenyan politician Martha Karua $25,000 (about Ksh2.7 million) in damages for infringement of her right to a fair trial.

A three Judge bench at the EACJ First Instance Division awarded Ms. Karua the damages for infringement of her right to a fair trial and fair hearing by the government through the Supreme Court during hearing of her petition against the election of Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru.

In their ruling, First Instance Division Court Judges, Justice Monica Mugenyi, Charles Nyawello and Charles Nyachae declared that the State infringed on Ms Karua’s right to access to justice.

“The Kenyan Government, through acts and/or omissions of its judicial organ, violated its commitments to the fundamental and operational principles of the EAC, specifically the principle of rule of law guaranteed under the EAC Treaty,” said Justice Mugenyi in a judgment that was awarded on Monday.

Ms Karua, the NARC Kenya leader, had vied for the position of Kirinyaga governor in the August 2019 election in which Ms Waiguru was declared winner. Ms Karua then filed a petition in Kenyan courts but it was dismissed. She then moved to the Arusha-based EACJ in November 2019.

Before the EACJ, she claimed video evidence that she had filed with the High Court of Kenya at Kerugoya was lost or stolen while in the court’s custody, but the court still went ahead to determine the election petition without investigating the issue.

Ms Karua, in her application, alleged that the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court, “failed to uphold the rule of law in knowingly dispensing injustice to the applicant while acknowledging that she was not at fault.”

“This monumental failure by the judicial arm of the respondent State (Kenya) breached the EAC Treaty, and in particular Articles 6(d) and 7(2), which obligate partner states to uphold good governance, democracy, the rule of law, human and people’s rights,” she said in the suit papers filed by her lawyer Gitobu Imanyara.

In her application, Karua asked the regional court to rule that the government infringed on her rights and award her damages, among other reliefs sought.

“Consequently, with utmost respect, we find that the impugned Supreme Court decision did fall short on the said judicial organ’s constitutional duty and curtailed Ms Karua’s right to access justice. It thus contravened the rule of law principle enshrined in EAC Treaty,” said Justice Mugenyi, the Principal Judge at the EACJ.

The EACJ awarded her compensation, which will attract a simple interest of 6 per cent from the date of the judgment until full payment.

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