How Attorney General is Appointed in Kenya

How Attorney General is Appointed in Kenya

Bowling Green State University has long provided Kenyan students pursuing legal careers with support, including some who went on to become top legal minds such as Justice James Karugu ’62.

As per Section 9 of the Office of Attorney General Act, an Attorney General is appointed by the President with approval of both houses of Congress.

Qualifications

The attorney general serves as the primary legal adviser and principal law officer for their state. Their powers include issuing certificates legally conclusive of certain facts and declining prosecution in certain instances.

Kenneth Polite of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division recently made headlines for announcing several initiatives designed to strengthen relationships between Kenyan judicial and law enforcement officials and his division in combating transnational crime, such as drug trafficking, financial fraud schemes, child sexual exploitation, and money laundering. Furthermore, AAG met with OPDAT Resident Legal Advisor and foreign prosecutors regarding how important close cooperation among law enforcement partners can be in terms of upholding lawfulness and expanding rule of law.

A group of survivors of sexual violence during the contentious 2007-2008 elections have requested that the Attorney General enforce a High Court decision ordering reparations payments to them from the government, demanding compensation for suffering and their loss of family and income.

Requirements for Appointment

The Attorney General serves as chief legal advisor to the national government and fulfills any other functions delegated by law. He is also responsible for representing it in any legal proceedings to which it is party, representing its interests in court proceedings and taking measures necessary to safeguard them.

The Office of the Attorney General strives to balance national security concerns with fairness and an orderly administration of justice by reducing pretrial detention. Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite of Justice Department’s Criminal Division led discussions at a three-day colloquium hosted by Kenya and organized by Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development Assistance and Training (OPDAT) regarding this subject matter.

Kihara Karugu, an esteemed Kenyan lawyer and recipient of BGSU Centennial Alumni Award, was appointed Kenya’s seventh Attorney General in 2018. As part of his term he reinstated publication of Kenya Law Reports as well as outlawed production and sale of Chang’aa (an illegal alcoholic beverage known to cause blindness and even death in its users) while ordering reparations payments to four survivor-petitioners challenging government failure to investigate, prosecute, and end impunity related to post election sexual violence cases.

Procedure for Appointment

As the primary legal advisor of the government, the attorney general serves as chief legal adviser on legal issues for ministries and constitutional commissions, among others. Their primary responsibility involves striking a delicate balance between serving political interests of their superiors while still fulfilling his/her duty as officer of state.

He/she must also possess the competence and physical fitness to fulfill their duties effectively, particularly when handling complex international legal issues related to technical international agreements such as oil and gas production agreements, carbon trading schemes and climate change agreements.

The Office of the Attorney-General Act establishes the position of Attorney General, as well as that of Deputy and State Counsels. Appointment to these positions rests with the President with approval from both National Assembly and Public Service Commission; eligibility criteria for Attorney General appointments under Chapter Six must also be fulfilled in order for one to qualify.

Terms of Appointment

Under Kenyan law, an attorney general serves as the primary legal advisor of the national government and represents it in any legal proceedings to which it is party or performs any other functions stipulated by an Act of Parliament or President. Furthermore, an attorney general actively promotes and protects rule of law as well as public interest issues.

Justin Muturi was appointed attorney general by President William Ruto and approved by the National Assembly in October 2022 after passing through an extensive vetting process. He took over for outgoing Kihara Kariuki who had left.

At his meeting, AAG Polite met with Kenyan Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji and other law enforcement officials to discuss cooperation in combatting transnational crime such as drug trafficking, financial fraud schemes, wildlife trafficking and corruption. Furthermore, he discussed increasing bilateral efforts against terrorism and violent extremism. Finally, other matters of mutual interest were also raised during this conversation.