“The Long Road to Independence: Kenya has made progress towards judicial independence”.

“The Long Road to Independence: Kenya has made progress towards judicial independence”.

In 2010, Kenya adopted a new constitution. The background was gruesome post-election violence in 2007/08, when members of different ethnic groups had turned on one another. The new constitution was designed to reconcile a deeply divided nation. One of the instruments for doing so is a strong and independent judiciary.

Since colonial times, Kenya’s law courts had previously mostly toed the government’s line. The new constitution has changed expectations, and efforts have since been made to ensure the courts’ independence. The reform process has gone on slowly but decisively for several years. It is radical and costs a lot of money. Last year, however, it was hit by a political whirlwind. The reason was that the Supreme Court annulled a presidential election (see box next page). The decision was politically controversial, of course, and sparked angry responses. On the other hand, many Kenyans appreciated that the judges were serious about enforcing constitutional standards.

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