International drug traffickers and illegal traders in ivory will now get quick justice after the first ever airport court was opened at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).The new court will also relieve the Kibera and Makadara law courts, which are currently overwhelmed by more than 300 pending cases originating from the airport. The new law court will serve both JKIA and Wilson Airport. There are also plans to make it the first 24-hour court in the country and also the first to operate on weekends.Chief Justice Dr Willy Mutunga said the airport court has been long time coming and will greatly aid resolution of cases, mainly involving foreigners.
“The delay of cases in our court system has often contributed to some people skipping bail. There is also the destruction of evidence such as what happened when a terminal caught fire at JKIA a few years back,” he said in a speech read on his behalf by Principal Magistrate Richard Mongo.
The CJ said there are also plans to set up a High Court at the airport, as some of the crimes involve property worth above the Sh20 million cap for cases handled by Magistrates Court.”The new court is a positive step in judicial reforms. The number of High Courts have increased from 14 to 24 since June 2011. This is just 13 courts shy of the legal requirement of High Courts in every county,” he added.The new court will have one magistrate and six members of staff.It will relieve the load of petty crimes often involving altercations between foreigners and airport staff.There are also plans to make space for legal aid lawyers for special situations such as dealing with foreigners who may be ignorant of the local legal system.Attorney-General Githu Muigai, who also attended the launch at the Kenya Airports Authority head offices, said this was a welcome step in the decentralisation of the Judiciary.”We should also open new courts in places such as Zimmerman, Kinoo and Ngong. It is about time we stopped exposing our city centre to vans ferrying prisoners to and from courts,” he said.The number of magistrates in the country has increased from 316 in 2012 to the current 462.Mobile courts have also increased from 19 in 2013 to 52 while the number of Kadhi’s courts increased from 15 to 56 in the same period.Speaking on behalf of the Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet, deputy IG Stanley Cheruiyot also lauded the Judiciary for the new guidelines on bail, bonds and fines which have “eased the work of the police.”