I will al­low rape vic­tims to abort, judge Koome tells JSC

Says it is trau­ma­tis­ing for a vic­tim to carry preg­nancy to term and be tor­mented for the rest of her life. ‘Some can han­dle rape and some can­not’

The Star (Kenya) - - Politics Judiciary - PETER NG’ETICH @TheS­tarKenya

Court of Ap­peal judge Martha Koome yes­ter­day said she will al­low rape vic­tims to pro­cure abor­tions.

She said it is trau­ma­tis­ing for a rape vic­tim to carry the preg­nancy to term and be tor­mented for the rest of her life.

Koome was re­spond­ing to ques­tions by the Ju­di­cial Ser­vice Com­mis­sion dur­ing an in­ter­view for the post of Supreme Court judge.

She said the law is clear on cir­cum­stances in which abor­tion can be done. “Some can han­dle rape and some can­not. That is when abor­tion can come in, es­pe­cially when the life of the vic­tim is in dan­ger,” Koome said.

The JSC is look­ing for a re­place­ment for former Supreme Court judge Philip Tunoi, who re­tired in July.

In her in­ter­view for the Deputy Chief Jus­tice po­si­tion early this month, Koome said any ju­di­cial of­fi­cer ac­cused of sex­ual ha­rass­ment should be charged. She said she will set up a com­mit­tee to which sex­ual ha­rass­ment can be re­ported.

Koome said any em­ployee who joins the ju­di­ciary should be taken through the Code of Con­duct on sex­ual ha­rass­ment.

She said her judg­ment that former Pres­i­dent Daniel Moi should com­pen­sate farmer Mal­com Bell for land at his Kabarak home was in­formed by the clause that the former was above the law and could not be sued.

Koome said as soon as Moi stepped down as Pres­i­dent, the im­mu­nity ended and Bell could take over the con­tested land cur­rently oc­cu­pied by Moi.

“Since Moi broke the prom­ise to sup­ply Bell with wa­ter and elec­tric­ity. The only pro­vi­sion in the law was that the lat­ter should take over the land,” she said.

Former Elec­toral Com­mis­sion of Kenya of­fi­cer Pamela Tu­tui said at times mem­bers of the bench in­flu­ence col­leagues on cer­tain de­ci­sions.

She said she will not be pres­sured to al­low abor­tion ex­cept on grounds per­mit­ted in the con­sti­tu­tion.

Tu­tui said even in ad­verse psy­cho­log­i­cal ef­fects to a mother, ter­mi­na­tion of a preg­nancy should not be an op­tion.

“There is a lot of de­bate on the abor­tion is­sue and many peo­ple ar­gue de­pend­ing on the side they want to look at it. Even when a mother can­not af­ford to raise the baby, it can­not be an ex­cuse for abor­tion,” she said.

/JACK OWUOR

Jus­tice Martha Koome af­ter the in­ter­view at the Supreme Court yes­ter­day. Right, Jus­tice Philip Tunoi on May 31

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