NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 20 – The Kenya Section of the International Commission of Jurist(ICJ) has named Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji the Jurist of the year 2021.
Haji was awarded for his achievement in adopting robust policies and strategic initiatives that have enhanced prosecution services, strengthened interagency coordination, regional and international network and promoted access to justice, restoring confidence in the criminal justice sector.
“In the last four years of transformative leadership, our Jurist has left no stone unturned to ensure the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions transformed into a professional and progressive 21st -century public prosecution authority,” ICJ said.
Under his tenure, some of the policies that have been adopted include developing guidelines on the Decision to Charge (2019), which has safeguarded the DPP’s independence, powers and functions; Diversion Policy, (2019), which has helped decongest prisons and reduce case backlog; the Plea-Bargaining Guidelines, (2019); the Excellence Charter 2020-2023; the Standard Operating Procedures on Investigation and Prosecution of Serious Human Rights Violations Committed by Police Officers; and the Prosecutor’s Guide to Children in the Criminal Justice System.
“In the spirit of promoting transparency and accountability, our Jurist has ensured the ODPP is more easily accessible to the public by facilitating access to information through various communications strategies. For example, the Office continues to roll out the ODPP Café, a weekly show live-streamed on Facebook and YouTube meant to educate and engage the public on the mandate of the ODPP, matters such as plea-bargaining, diversion, the decision to charge, ODPP policies, human rights, and juvenile justice, among others,” ICJ noted.
Since 1993, the Jurist of the Year Award has been bestowed to individuals who have consistently, fearlessly, and impartially promoted human rights, the rule of law, and democracy in Kenya
Previous winners of the award include law scholar Prof Yash Pal Ghai, former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, senior counsels Paul Muite and late Nzamba Kitonga and Court of Appeal judge Mumbi Ngugi, who have been recognised for their contribution towards the promotion of human rights, rule of law and democracy.
This is the first time since 1993, that the award is going to a prosecutor and a Director of Public Prosecutions.