The National Council for the Administration of Justice met at the Supreme Court, Nairobi, on March 15, 2020 to deliberate on the implications of the announcement by the Ministry of Health that the first case of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) has been confirmed in the country.
Recognising the mandate of the NCAJ and seized of the challenges posed by the pandemic and the experience of other countries around the world;
Recognizing the critical need to protect members of staff as well as the public from infection and to prevent the spread of the disease:
We have today agreed on the following:
- In compliance with the directive issued by the National Emergency and Response Committee, we shall forthwith scale down court activities throughout the country over the next two weeks effective tomorrow, March 16, 2020 in order to allow further consultations and design appropriate measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
- During this time, prisoners and remandees will not be presented to court.
- With regard to new arrests, all cases except serious ones will be dealt with at the police stations in accordance with guidelines to be issued by the Inspector General of Police.
- All appeals, hearings and mentions in Criminal and Civil cases in all courts are suspended with immediate effect.
- All execution proceedings are also suspended during the two weeks.
- Courts will continue to handle certificates of urgency and taking plea for serious cases.
- During this time, all judicial officers and staff will continue being on duty. However, there will be no open court appearances.
- Judges in all stations will in the meantime review the deserving cases already identified by Prisons authorities and issue appropriate revision orders in an effort to decongest the prisons. Magistrate Courts will also review bail terms for those in remand.
- All conferences, workshops, colloquia and training programmes are suspended until further notice.
- There will be no foreign travel for the next 30 days for staff of the justice sector institutions, whether official or private, save for exceptional circumstances.
- An ad-hoc Inter-Agency Committee has been established to liaise with the National committee and advise the NCAJ on further precautionary measures on an ongoing basis.
- NCAJ will review these directions from time to time as need arises.