By Our reporter
It is a sigh of relief for Kwale residents as the judiciary opens High Court Services in the region.
The new services tend to enhance justice delivery and cushion residents from trekking long distances to seek justice.
The services were launched on Monday by Governor Fatuma Achani and Mombasa High Court judge Lady Justice Olga Sewe in a colourful event in Matuga sub-county.
Previously, the locals used to travel to Mombasa to do cases on murder trials, criminals, succession, civil cases, commercial, election petitions and others.
Speaking during the launch, Sewe said it is a turning point for Kwale people as they will be able to access all judicial services at a one-stop centre.
“This is the beginning of new error to our people because we are opening doors of access to justice for all, “she said.
Sewe said the move is part of the commitment of Chief Justice Martha Koome to improving awareness, judicial services and expediting access to justice for everyone.
She said it is a mandatory requirement for the constitution that courts must be established across the county to enhance service delivery.
Sewe said the Kwale High Court will reduce congestion in Mombasa High Court and ease access to justice and conclusion of many unfinished cases that are piling up daily.
She said processes are ongoing to have the four stored modern Kwale High Court facility opened to supplement judicial services.
“We are optimistic that the new building will be ready by next year so that it accommodates as many judges required to serve Kwale people effectively,” she said.
Sewe said the new facility will provide an enabling environment for magistrates to work within the required timelines of the filed cases.
She said the judicial system is looking forward to using ICT as an enabler of access to justice.
Sewe said they want to partner with the county government and various stakeholders to have halls at the grassroots to bring services closer to residents and effective delivery of justice.
She said the mobile courts will provide an opportunity for locals who don’t have smartphones and the internet to have access to justice virtual.
Sewe said it is a great opportunity for residents who couldn’t access proper justice because of distance and lack of money.
She, however, called on cooperation among the stakeholders adding that for the successful operation of the court, there must be a shared responsibility.
Kwale Environment and Land Court Judge Lady Justice Addraya Eda Dena notified residents who had previously filed their land dispute cases in Mombasa High Court that they can at the moment be served in Kwale.
She said more than 600 Kwale land cases were being handled in Mombasa.
Dena said their court files were transferred to Kwale High Court and will be served at their convenience.
She said the High Court services have been brought to Kwale to help address many challenges affecting locals, especially the land injustices.
Dena advised the residents to do a follow-up on their cases to ensure justice is served effectively.
Achani hailed the government and the judicial system for bringing services close to common citizens.
She said some of the residents have been unable to get proper justice because of the complex nature of seeking judicial services far away.
Achani said the county will also get an opportunity to do cases nearby instead of going to Mombasa which is tiresome and expensive.
“As county government sometimes we are also taken to court and having all the services here would help cut down the cost and do proceedings easily,” she said.
She said the county will offer the judicial full support to ensure residents get quality services.
Achani said the county will soon engage relative authorities and leaders to have several courts in Kinango and Lunga-Lunga and across the county to enhance access to justice.
Kwale Woman Rep Fatuma Masito urged the locals to take advantage of the new court services to get better justice and improve their lives.
She said the judicial system remains the only way to get proper justice and resolve disputes peacefully.
Masito said people should make good use of the court services to fight for their rights including GBVs, land and property ownership and many others.
The officer in charge of Kwale prison Hussein Guyo said the court will address logistic challenges affecting them.
He said Kwale has more than 500 prisoners out of 270 who are from time to time required to be transported to courts for case hearings.
Guyo said over 13 murder cases are being heard in Mombasa adding that it has been hectic transferring prisoners all the time.
He said the court services will strengthen the human touch in most cases and enable witnesses to give evidence confidently.