A specialised network of organisations responding to the issues of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis in Kenya has come in for some unwelcome publicity. This after it used a photograph of one of its own staff on its website, with a caption that identified her as “an HIV positive sex worker waiting for treatment”. The staffer in the photograph was awarded damages by Kenya’s HIV/AIDS tribunal, but her employers appealed. They argued that it was not “demeaning” to say someone was a sex worker nor was she defamed when it was said of her that she was HIV positive. What would be the response of Judge Joseph Sergon of the High Court in Nairobi?
For two senior African judges, this has been a particularly momentous month. Justice Joseph Wowo of Nigeria, former Chief Justice of Gambia, has been effectively exonerated by a regional court after his humiliating treatment at the hands of the courts in Gambia and his dismissal by the then-President, Yahya Jammeh. Justice Wowo has also been awarded significant damages for the way he was treated. But though his trials and tribulations may now be over, serious trouble is only just starting for a member of Kenya’s Supreme Court, Justice Jackton B. Ojwang’. Chief Justice David Maraga is reported to have written to President Uhuru Kenyatta, recommending that a special tribunal be established to consider the impeachment of his suspended colleague, Justice Ojwang’.
Did Kenya’s First Community Bank actually want to go ahead with its case? Otherwise, why had its litigation been so delayed, asked the court. The parties before Judge James Aaron Makau were divided in their answer. Those who were to be sued by the bank for a great deal of money said the delays were unconscionable and the case should be thrown out. But the bank said that though there had been delays it still was eager to have the matter heard – and it blamed the court for the delays. The judge was unimpressed: it was the advocate involved, not the court, that was to blame, he said.
Over a dry decision involving judicial review a judge introduces the shade of a Biblical mustard tree
High Court, Kenya
Dealing with the development of judicial review, Judge Antony Mrima wrote that the limits of judicial review were continuing to extend to meet the demands of administrative decisions. He added:
Allegations of apartheid-style discrimination made by a group of doctors against an internationally-linked medical research institute have been questioned by Kenya’s court of appeal. The court overturned an earlier decision by the high court that found the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) infringed the doctors’ rights to equality, dignity and property among others. The findings were particularly serious because, on the strength of them, the high court judge had also awarded significant damages against KEMRI to each of the doctors. The medics were involved as PhD candidates with the KEMRI Wellcome Trust Research Programme linked to Oxford University and their initial application alleged that local black doctors were providing the equivalent of intellectual slave labour to white researchers. The appeal court has now dismissed the original application and the damages award, saying the high court had considered the evidence of only one side in the matter, resulting in a “patent injustice”.