Experts to help courts on technical evidence

Thursday, June 6th, 2024 04:30 | By
Environment and Planning Division Presiding Judge Justice Anne Omollo (left) with Justice Judy Omange of the Environment and Land Court in Milimani, Nairobi, when the experts were named. PHOTO/SAMUEL KARIUKi.

Some 25 experts have been appointed to serve on an environmental working group that will help courts interpret technical evidence.

The group, which will serve under the Environment and Planning Division, was named yesterday by the Judiciary, one year after Chief Justice Martha Koome announced the creation of the body.

Members come from different organisations that champion environmental protection, including resident associations, the environment watchdog NEMA and others.

They include Environment and Planning Division Presiding Judge Anne Omollo, Justice Jacquiline Mogeni, and Benjamin Langwen from the Environment Society of Kenya.

Adjudicating environmental disputes in court requires adducing technical evidence, said Justice Judy Omange of the Environment and Land Court in Milimani, Nairobi, a member of the working group.

“When you’re talking about climate change, how do we break that down in court in terms of evidence to prove that climate change has caused, for instance, flooding?” he said.

“So those are the issues that this environmental working group will be working together with all stakeholders to see how do we, first of all, train the advocates who are involved in handling environmental matters to take up those matters.”

Capacity building

Through capacity building, he said the group will also empower judges and magistrates dealing with environmental cases, other stakeholders and the public.

Funded under the Chief Justice’s Social Transformation through Access to Justice blueprint, the group will also help to clear a backlog of cases in the Environment and Land Court.

The scope of disputes filed in the Environment and Planning Division includes matters on environmental protection, climate change, mining, land use planning and issues relating to private, public and community land.

“Land disputes are very complex in this country. So environmental cases are lost in the land disputes, because we are dealing with people who are being evicted or their land is being grabbed,” Justice Omange said.

“So those were getting a lot of our time. But now with this division and this working group, we’ll be expediting [them].

“We want, if you come to court to say, my environmental rights have been breached, you have a determination, very expeditious determination even within the year.”

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