Lady Justice Mwilu : Rapport between Judiciary and the Executive good for the country

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ICPAK Council member Anne Wangechi (right) with Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu (left) at tea break after the opening ceremony of the 39th ICPAK annual seminar  at the Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort in Mombasa county. PHOTO/UGC.

By OUR CORRESPONDENT

The good working relationship between the executive and the judiciary does not mean that the judiciary has ceded its independence Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu, has said.

Lady Justice Mwilu said the rapport between the judiciary and the executive was good for the country and should not be interpreted that the executive was dictating to the judiciary.

“The legislature will make laws, the judiciary will interpret the laws and the executive will enforce them,” she said.

Lady Justice Mwilu said there was a red line on the extent to which the executive and the judiciary can work in harmony and that did not include one arm of the government dictating to the other.

“The red line is drawn where, God forbid if it happens, the administration or indeed anybody out there tells the judiciary on how to determine cases. Should you find anyone dictating to us on what to do and we do as dictated, and the evidence is clear, we have no business being in the judiciary,” she said.

Lady Justice Mwilu said the independence of the judiciary and the other arms of government were paramount in discharging their constitutional mandates.

The Deputy Chief Justice was speaking during the official opening of the 39th annual conference of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants (ICPAK) in Mombasa.

Lady Justice Mwilu defended the judiciary’s camaraderie with President William Ruto’s administration saying that it was for the good of the nation.

The judge said although the three arms of government – the Judiciary, Parliament and the Executive are independent, they must work interdependently.

“The legislature will set budgets, which is their role, and so the judiciary depends on the legislature to give us the allocation of the country’s money that is enough to run our justice business for a year,” she said.

Lady Justice Mwilu said there was nothing wrong in the judiciary speaking to Parliament or Treasury so long as they did so within the confines of the law.

“So if judiciary is talking to the current administration and parliament it will not be doing anything new,” she said.

Lady Justice Mwilu said that the role of accountants in the management and operation of institutions is to ensure that financial resources are expended in conformity with the provisions of the Public Finance Management Act, related legislation, and accounting best practices.

She said that accountants contribute to the efficient allocation, utilization, and management of resources in the justice sector institutions and ensure prudent use of the limited financial resources, manage the revenue collected by the institutions, and manage the funds retained in trust for clients such as arrested and accused persons and court users.

“It is clear therefore that financial probity in the justice sector institutions is an essential and vital requirement for an efficient and effective system of governance. Public funds are given and utilized by these institutions in trust,” she said.

She said that trust is particularly critical for justice system actors as it builds public confidence in the institutions

In addition to ensuring institutional adherence to the constitutional and statutory public finance requirements, she said that financial probity guards against corruption and abuse of the justice system by the full raft of actors including judges, judicial officers, judiciary staff, prosecutors, police officers, or probation officers.

The deputy CJ said that the Judiciary is currently implementing the Social Transformation through Access to Justice (STAJ), a strategic vision which was launched by Her Ladyship the Chief Justice in September 2021.

“The key outcome of the STAJ vision is strengthening financial mechanisms that support the independence and integrity of the Judiciary.

“The interventions under this strategic theme include operationalizing the Judiciary Fund and Enterprise Resource Planning system to manage and improve how resources and funds allocated to the Judiciary are utilized,” she said.

She said that accountants are central to the achievement of the central pillar in the Judiciary’s social transformation agenda because they have the capacity and Godly duty to do the right thing and the capacity to stop the wrong things from being done.

“Whether it is the misuse or misappropriation of funds and resources, accountants in justice sector institutions can stop systemic waste and corruption, ensure accountability for such incidents, put in place systems to prevent their recurrence, thereby stopping them from happening again. Do not ignore or cover up impropriety,” she said.

Mwilu called upon accountants not to cover up complaints and audit concerns for bribes or other improper inducements and in case they find something is not or has not been done right, they must say it and do something about it to get it corrected.

“It is the duty of accountants to follow up and find out if the matter has been corrected, the loophole addressed and the matter duly reported for corrective remedial action. They must whistle blow, write statements, report to relevant bodies such as the EACC,” she said.

She said that corruption, financial crimes, money laundering, and transnational organized crimes are complex crimes that often require significant expertise to correctly detect fraud, apportion culpability and trace proceeds and beneficiaries.

“As gatekeepers to the financial system, professional accountants are the first line of defence to prevent the misuse and misappropriation of public funds and the movement, transfer or transaction in these illicit funds,” she said.

Lady Justice Mwilu called upon ICPAK to ensure that its membership is acutely aware of the important accountability role it plays in all sectors including the justice sector and is strictly compliant with all facets of the statutory and policy ethics provisions and duties governing the profession.

“So, therefore, appreciating our professional importance in our roles in facilitating justice systems, we must together resolve to do the right thing even if the skies must fall. Detect and stop financial malpractices in all spheres and more particularly in the justice systems and refuse to be compromised, do the right thing,” she said.

She asked them to resist intimidation and coded or even direct threats to be punished if they do not play ball, or threats to lose jobs by consolidating and resolving to do the right thing, to protect and fight for those who get themselves in trouble for doing the right thing.

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