Justice Lenaola’s re-election for a second two-year term took place during the association’s biennial conference held at The Hague, Netherlands, where the members singled him out for his commitment to promoting the rights of refugees and migrants.
“The re-election shows the trust and confidence members have in his leadership. We are confident that he will continue to steer the association in the right direction, promote international cooperation, and provide necessary guidance in dealing with complex migration and refugee related legal issues,” the association said in a statement.
The International Association of Refugee and Migration Judges (IARMJ) is an organisation of judges with over 400 members globally comprising four chapters – European, Americas, Asia-Pacific and Africa.
The IARMJ was established in 1997 to foster recognition that protection from persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, social group or political opinion is an individual right established under international law, and that determination of refugee status and its cessation should be subject to rule of law.
The association described Justice Lenaola as a highly experienced judge who has exhibited great professionalism and dedication, saying that his visionary leadership has helped IARMJ to grow and establish itself as a critical force in promoting justice and fairness to vulnerable members of society.
Justice Lenaola is regarded as one of the most transformative and progressive judges, with many landmark decisions during his tenure as High Court judge and subsequently Supreme Court judge.
In August 2017 he was part of the Supreme Court bench which nullified the presidential election, the first time in Africa and only the third in the world at the time. Justice Lenaola, alongside then Chief Justice David Maraga, and Justices Philomena Mwilu and Smokin Wanjala, declared the Kenyan presidential election was marred with massive irregularities and did not meet the threshold of free, fair and credible elections.
While serving as head of the Constitutional and Human Rights division at the High Court in 2016, Justice Lenaola was granted an honorary membership award by the East Africa Law Society Conference for an outstanding contribution to development of regional jurisprudence.
In one of his landmark decisions at the High Court, Justice Lenaola gave adopted children a birth right after he ordered that they be issued with birth certificates; until then, adopted children were only issued with an adoption certificate. The judge ruled that every person has a right to equal protection and equal treatment, and that adopted children should not be discriminated against on the basis that their foster parents were not their biological parents.
Justice Lenaola served as the deputy principal judge of the East Africa Court of Justice from 2011 to 2018, and has been a serving judge at the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone since 2013. While sitting at the East African Court of Justice, Justice Lenaola declared that it was illegal for Uganda to deport Kenyan citizens who had crossed the border without according them a fair hearing before a court of law.
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