Kenyan Judges Trained on the International Labour Standards

Kenyan judges were trained in International Labour Standards by the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Training Centre of the ILO (ITCILO), and the ILO Labour Law and Reform Unit (LABOURLAW), collaborating with the Kenya Judiciary Academy (KJA).

News | 12 February 2024
Participants during the Opening Ceremony of the Kenya Judges' Training on International Labour Standards in Naivasha
ILO News (Kenya) The International Training Centre of the ILO (ITCILO), the ILO Labour Law and Reform Unit (LABOURLAW), in collaboration with the Kenya Judiciary Academy under the support of All Hands in Kenya and PROSPECTS projects, supported Kenyan judges training in International Labour Standards by the ILO. This comprehensive training program was held in Naivasha, Kenya from 16 to 19 January 2024. 21 judges of the Employment and Labour Relations Court (ELRC), three judges from the Court of Appeal, and 11 Magistrates and labour court officers took part in the training. The training marked a significant step towards enhancing the Kenya judiciary's ability to interpret and apply international labour standards towards fair and just resolutions in labour-related disputes.

The training was inaugurated by Justice Martha Koome, Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court of Kenya, Florence Bore, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Social Protection; Dr Francis Atwoli, Secretary General, Central Organization of Trade Unions Kenya (COTU-K); Dickens Ouma, Head of Legal at the Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) and Caroline Khamati Mugalla, the ILO Country Office Director for the United Republic of Tanzania, Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda.

Chief Justice of the Republic of Kenya Justice Martha Koome during the Kenya Judges Training
In her opening remarks, the Chief Justice (CJ) expressed her gratitude to the ILO and the ITCILO-Turin, as well as other partners and collaborators for making the training a success. The CJ noted that the training came at an opportune moment of accelerated focus of the Judiciary towards social justice and citizen-centered justice delivery.

Further, through the initiative, the Judicial Officers would have better perspectives for more just workplaces and spaces with dignified work, enhanced human dignity, prosperity, and justice for workers and employers within sustainable relationships.

ILO Country Director Caroline Mugalla during the Kenya Judges Training
ILO Country Office Director, Caroline Khamati Mugalla observed among others that “This collaboration reflects our (ILO)’s commitment to strengthening the capacity of judges in Kenya to effectively utilize international labour law in their daily practice, contributing to the overall improvement of the country's labour standards."

She further pointed out that, “the ILO has been at the forefront of raising labour standards throughout the world. This partnership is therefore evidence of our mutual commitment to advancing justice, fairness, and safeguarding workers' rights. In addition to our collaboration with the judiciary, we appreciate the constant support and patronage from the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) and Central Organization of Trade Unions Kenya (COTU-K) in the work that ILO undertakes in Kenya”.

The Deputy Chief Justice Lady Justice Philomena Mbete Mwilu, President of the Court of Appeal Justice Daniel Musinga and Director Kenya Judiciary Academy Justice Dr Smokin Wanjala also participated in the workshop.

It is worth noting that Kenya has been an active member of the ILO since 1964 and continues to play a critical role in the activities of the ILO. It has ratified fifty-two (52) Conventions of which (39) are in force, including (7) fundamental Conventions out of (10) and (3) governance Conventions out of four (4), a demonstration of commitment towards promotion of decent work and social justice.

The Employment and Labour Relations Court (ELRC) is a specialized court that was created with the status of the High Court under Article 162(2)(a) of the Kenyan Constitution. The constitutional mandate of the Court is to hear and determine disputes relating to employment and labour relations. The Employment and Labour Relations Court, Act of 2011, is the legislation that operationalizes the Court with the primary aim of empowering the ELRC to enable fair, prompt, effective, and balanced settlement of cases. Twenty-one (21) judges currently make up the court; twelve (12) who joined in 2012 at its inception, and nine (9) having joined in 2021.

Participants and the ITC-ILO Faculty discussed International Labour Standards as incorporated into domestic law, employment relationships and termination, application of ILS in Occupational Safety and Health, among other labour issues. This aided in the participants' ability to acquire a thorough understanding of the ILS system, application of ILS to dispute resolution and utilization of ILO supervisory bodies. In addition, themes involving collective bargaining, job safety and health, freedom of association, termination of employment, and the existence of work relationships were covered in the training.