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Dr Imaana Laibuta: Meet Kenya’s first blind judge

Dr Imaana Laibuta was on Friday June 4 sworn in as Kenya’s first blind judge in a ceremony presided by President Uhuru Kenyatta at the state house.

The newly appointed judge got promoted as Court of Appeal Judge following president Uhuru’s acceptance of of his proposal given out by the Judiciary Service Commission (JSC).

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“I Imaana Laibuta, Judge of the Court of Appeal do solemnly affirm in the name of the Almighty God to diligently serve the people and the Republic of Kenya to solemnly do justice in accordance with the Constitution as by law established.

“Without fear, favour, bias, affection, ill will or prejudice or any political, religious or other influence in the exercise of all Judicial functions entrusted to me,” he swore, adding that he will defend the Constitution.

Judge Laibuta who is fine with being called blind, lost his vision when he 22 years old and a first year university student.

While speaking at an interview with Business Daily, Laibuta revealed the the incident was purely a medical condition.

“I got treated for malaria, got treated with Chloroquine, got Chloroquine poisoning and my sight went in two hours. The first thing you are confronted with is shock unless the loss of sight is gradual and you know it is coming. When it is a sudden loss of total sight, you are thrown into shock, confusion, you are derailed from your normal course in life; be it school, college, work etc.

“The bitterness was more due to the fact that the medical personnel had no idea what was going on. Some consultants would say, “Oh no, this is just temporary, it will wear off in a year or so.” So you are like a guinea pig in a hospital for a month and 10 days undergoing all manner of tests. Eventually, I left the hospital not knowing what had happened. But what I know for sure is that it came out of that treatment,” he said at a past interview.

Laibuta is also a super skilled golf player.

According to him golf is a game that requires skills and a measure of technicality.

Before being promoted, Laibuta worked as commissioner at the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (Kenya)

He has also served as an advocate of the High Court of Kenya for over 26 years and also as Law Society of Kenya continuous legal education (CLE) facilitator.

The professor also worked as a lecturer for 24 years.

He has also served as Chairperson of the management board of the Kenya Chapter of Voluntary Services Overseas [VSO-Jitolee (EA) Volunteering] outside the country.

He was also a member of the executive council of the Kenya Society for the Blind and Chairman of the Education and Rehabilitation Committee.

Laibuta has helped in various consultative workshops, seminars and conferences organized by the IDP Africa Forum, UNDPK, the Kenya Society for the Blind and the Law Reform Commission on the UN Convention and domestic legislation on the rights of persons with disabilities.

While in Botswana, he worked as with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Government of Botswana (Ministry of Health) for the development of the National Policy on Disability.

The judge holds a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Law from the University of Nairobi where he studied from 2009- 2012. He also has a Master of Laws (LL.M.) from the University of London.

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He also studied Alternative Dispute Resolution at the University of California, US making him a professional mediator.

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