Martha Koome: Kenya Appoints First Female Chief Justice

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Martha Koome

President Uhuru Kenyatta has Wednesday appointed Justice Martha Koome Kenya’s new Chief Justice replacing Justice David Maraga who retired last year.

Martha Koome, 61, becomes Kenya’s third Chief Justice since the promulgation of the East African country’s 2010 Constitution and the first female chief Justice in history.

A firebrand children and women’s rights activist, Justice Martha Koome emerged the best fit for the position after defeating nine other candidates in televised Judicial Service Commission (JSC) interviews.

Her appointment as Chief Justice also ends a 10 year wait for the Supreme Court of Kenya to meet the constitutional one third gender rule.

Martha Koome will now join Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu and Justice Njoki Ndungu at the highest court in the land.

During interviews, Justice Martha Koome highlighted her difficult rise up the judicial ladder.

” I am a villager in the truest sense. My parents were peasant farmers and we were 18 children from two mothers. So, for all us, especially the girls it was a struggle to beat the odds.” She told the JSC panel.

Martha Koome graduated with a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Nairobi in 1986 and started out as a legal associate in 1988.

In 1993, she founded her own law firm reputed for human rights defense and representing political prisoners during the dictatorship of former Kenya’s President Daniel arap Moi.

She was appointed a High Court Judge by former President Mwai Kibaki in 2003 and headed land, environment and family courts.

In 2012, she was elevated to the Court of Appeal and in 2016, she applied to be a Supreme Court Judge albeit unsuccessfully.

Martha Koome is also a founding member of Fida-Kenya (Federation of Women Lawyers) widely known for women and children’s rights activism.

In 2020, Martha Koome, who now becomes Kenya’s 15th Chief Justice won the UN Kenya Person of the Year Award for her advocacy of children rights in the Justice system.


 

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