Here’s a quick recap of recent developments:
Latest on the Constitutional Amendment debate
“The incumbency has lost the power of deciding an election date. Now they want to get it back just one more time through the back door.” – Martha Karua, MP & Presidential Aspirant in 2012 Elections.
The Speaker of the National Assembly ruled that the Cabinet (through the Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister) was within the provisions of the Constitution and Parliament’s Standing Orders to table the Constitutional Amendment Bill which seeks to change the general election date from August to December 2012. This Bill has already been tabled for the First Reading in Parliament.
Since Cabinet’s “logistical reasons” excuse for having Elections in December instead of August has failed to hold sway with us, they’ve now crafted a new reason. Listen to this:
“The Cabinet decided to seek a constitutional amendment to hold the elections in December because President Kibaki’s term expires on December 30, 2012. If the elections are held before that date, the country will not have a President and Commander-in-Chief because, legally, the President’s term would have expired.”
Meanwhile, Prof. Mutua in his weekly “Letter from New York” expresses a real fear that the on-going war against Al-Shabaab could be used to postpone the 2012 elections. He concludes by saying that Kenya’s war against Al-Shabaab is necessary and that’s why Kenya may have to postpone elections if necessary.
With due respect, any attempt to push General Elections to 2013 by invoking the President’s “unexpired term” or “national security” must be rejected in the strongest possible terms. We are aware that MPs, Permanent Secretaries and other high-ranking government officials whose Terms of Office, by and large, are tied to the Elections date would be more than happy to have elections in December 2012 or March 2013 or even much later. But what about the People of Kenya? All the People want is a peaceful, free and fair election – preferably sooner than later, yes?
Evictees awarded over 200 million shillings as damages for violation of their rights
“…The evictions were then supposed to be carried out in a manner that respected human dignity, right to life and the security of the affected…” – Muchelule, J., High Court.
In the case of Ibrahim Sangor Osman & 1,122 others v The Minister of State for Provincial Administration and Internal Security & 10 others , Justice Muchelule sitting in the High Court at Embu has awarded a global sum of Kshs. 224,600,000/= to 1,123 ‘Medina Evictees’ as damages following their eviction from unalienated public land within the jurisdiction of the Municipal Council of Garissa. The court also declared that the petitioners’ fundamental rights as outlined in their petition had been violated by virtue of the eviction from the alleged public land and the consequential demolition of property by the respondents. Read the full case here.
As the dust settles on the Syokimau demolitions, we heard the news of the residents living adjacent to the Eastleigh Air Force Base, who had their flats demolished, to their utter shock and disbelief. It is hoped that this positive outcome from the halls of justice can be relied up by the residents of both Syokimau and Eastleigh as they explore options for legal redress from the State.
Speaking of legal redress…
40 acres and a mule for PEV Victims? Freeze Assets of Uhuru, Ruto and the other ICC Suspects
“I am not aware of any currency since the Pharaohs that would be able to buy back that short history of December 2007 to March 2008.” – Mutula Kilonzo, Minister of Justice.
It has been revealed that the government is preparing a law that will govern compensation and reparations to victims of the post-election violence (PEV).
The Minister of Justice is indeed right that this envisaged legislation will provide clear mechanisms for identifying genuine victims of PEV and the compensation required.
Firstly, Parliament’s focus should be on enacting the laws provided for under the Fifth Schedule which are time-bound and absolutely necessary for the operationalisation of the Consitution. That said, a law to ensure compliance with the Rome Statute would come in handy especially with the decision of the ICC on the confirmation of charges due in a few weeks time.
A point of caution: this planned law must be done in a consultative manner and it is indeed reassuring to hear that the Constitution Implementation Commission will be involved in the drafting process. The central focus of this law must be on the victims. The lack of provisions on participation or reparations for victims through the local courts or access to a victims’ trust fund has been the main point of contention with Uganda’s International Criminal Court Act 2010.
An Ombudsman with a mouth full of teeth!
“This (The Commission on Administration of Justice) is a human rights body that will ensure public officers treat Kenyans with respect.” – Otiende Amollo, Chairperson.
The Commission on Administration of Justice aka ‘The Ombudsman’ has now officially taken over from the Public Complaints Standing Committee (PCSC). It is hoped that the Ombudsman, in carrying out it’s weighty mandate, will be guided by Article 47 on Fair Administrative Action:
“Every person has the right to administrative action that is expeditious, efficient, lawful, reasonable and procedurally fair.”
The Ombudsman’s role is clear: to ensure that as administrative officials implement policies and programs, all their actions to meet certain minimum requirements of legality, reasonableness and fairness.
Classical examples of administration action that can be challenged by the Ombudsman: validity of regulations made by administrators, decisions to grant or reject licenses, tenders, visas etc…, decisions to appoint or dismiss a state officer, failure by administrator to take a decision, unreasonable delay by administrator in taking a decision.
Airborne Justice, Kenyan Style.
“If Kenyans want judicial reforms it is going to cost them. We will come to Parliament to ask for the funds.” – William Mutunga, Chief Justice and President of the Judiciary.
Indeed it is true that justice delayed is justice denied. So our good old CJ Willy is now appealing to the government to facilitate travel of judicial officers to far flung areas of the Republic using helicopters and light aircrafts. It is a known fact that one of the challenges facing the judiciary is speedy deployment of judges to deliver timely rulings.
This will be a welcomed change from the usual sight of power-hungry politicians hopping in and out of choppers as they scour the country for Election votes.