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Ex-Kenyan chief justice Mutunga to deliver this year’s ACME lecture on media

Former Kenyan chief justice Dr Willy Mutunga. Courtesy photo.



KAMPALA–Former Kenyan chief justice Dr Willy Mutunga will deliver this year’s African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME) lecture slated for Wednesday, November 8 at the Golf Course Hotel in Kampala, Dr Peter Mwesige, ACME’s executive director, has revealed.

Dr Mwesige said Dr Mutunga will draw on his own experience while at the judiciary to offer insight into how media and politics affect judicial independence on the continent.

“We are honoured to have him in a year when the Supreme Court of Kenya made history by annulling the presidential election held on 8 August,” Dr Mwesige said.

Dr Mutunga was Kenya’s chief justice and president of the Supreme Court from 2011 to 2016

The ACME fourth annual lecture will run under the theme: “Media and Politics in Africa”. The lecture seeks to explore the relationship between media and politics amidst changing technological, demographic, and political conditions on the continent.

Mr Bernard Tabaire, ACME’s director of programmes, said: “Given the involving political debates taking place in East Africa, especially in Uganda and Kenya, we could not have had a better speaker than Dr Mutunga — lawyer, thinker and reform leader.”

Tabaire invited the public to what he termed a lively discussion.

Dr Mutunga’s lecture is titled, “Politics, Media and Judicial Independence in Africa” follows those delivered in 2014 by Mr Trevor Ncube, the Zimbabwean owner of South Africa’s Mail & Guardian newspaper; in 2015 by Ms Fatuma Abdulahi, the Somali feminist and broadcaster; and in 2016 by Mr Eric Chinje, the Cameroonian communications expert heading the Nairobi-based African Media Initiative.

The annual lectures are funded with a grant from the Democratic Governance Facility, a basket fund that supports state and non-state partners to strengthen democratisation, protect human rights and improve access to justice in Uganda, under a project that ACME is running titled “Enhanced Media Reporting for Transparency and Accountability”.

ACME is a Kampala-based independent, non-profit professional organisation committed to promoting excellence in journalism and communication in Africa.

Who is Mutunga

Dr Willy Mutunga was Kenya’s Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court from 2011 to 2016. Recently he has served as Secretary General of the Commonwealth special envoy to the Maldives, and a distinguished scholar-in-residence at Fordham Law’s Leitner Center for international Law and Justice School.

Justice Mutunga played a pivotal role in the constitution-making processes in Kenya from the 1970s and particularly, from the early 1990s. He worked on the implementation of the progressive 2010 Kenyan Constitution as head of the Judiciary and President of the apex court in the country.

He advocated, in his writings and judgments, for the development of indigenous, robust, patriotic, decolonized, progressive, and transformative jurisprudence that is not insular and does not pay unthinking deference to other jurisdictions, regardless of how prominent they may be. He has also advocated for a progressive jurisprudence for Africa and the global south as part of the significant contribution in the struggle for a new just, peaceful, and equitable world.

During his tenure as Chief Justice, Mutunga sought to lay permanent and indestructible foundations for a transformed judiciary. Under the blueprint of the Kenyan Judiciary Transformation Framework 2012-2016, he achieved impressive progress in bringing the justice system closer to the ordinary people. He also worked on the linkage between formal and traditional justice systems as decreed by the constitution. He not only humanized the Kenyan judicial system but also reduced the case backlogs significantly.

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