Kenyan churches adamant over draft law

March 3, 2010 12:00 am

, LIMURU, Kenya Mar 3 – Church leaders have yet again reiterated that they will mobilise their faithful to reject the proposed draft constitution if the chapters on The Kadhi Courts and the right to life are not amended.

They want the Kadhi Courts expunged and the right to life guaranteed.

Addressing a media conference on Wednesday, NCCK Secretary General Canon Peter Karanja reiterated that the State should be separated from religion and since Kenya is considered a secular State no religion should be mentioned in the supreme law.

“We demand that Parliament facilitates the equalities of all Kenyans by expanding exemptions given to persons professing the Muslim faith.  Christians will neither be party to nor will they endorse a constitution that treats Kenyans unequally and unjustly,” he said.

The Christian community has been up in arms against the Committee of Experts (CoE) on the constitution for failing to recognise the courts as part of the contentious issues and subsequent inclusion in the draft. The clergy faulted the PSC for failing to “listen to the Christians and approving the courts.”

Last month, the church leaders threatened to shoot down the draft in the national referendum after they claimed that the two review bodies had ignored the demands. The church leaders say that having such courts in the constitution was discriminatory as it makes references to Islam.
They termed as malicious a move by the CoE to remove provisions that guarantee the separation of State and religion and that which provides that the State shall treat all regions equally.

“We demand that Parliament restores this two provisions alongside the provision that there should be no State religion and immediately remove the Kadhi courts because inclusion of the courts is unjust,” said Canon Karanja.

Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo had called for dialogue between Christians and Muslims over the disputed inclusion of Kadhi courts in the Constitution which he said would be a good avenue to avert the rejection of the draft at the referendum.

The draft establishes the Kadhi courts but limits them to the determination of the questions of Muslim law relating to personal status, marriage, divorce or inheritance in proceedings in which all the parties profess the Muslim religion and submit to the jurisdiction of the Kadhi’s courts.

On the chapter on the right to life, the church said: “We are greatly saddened by the attempts by the CoE to go back on the PSC draft and deceptively reintroduce abortion.  We insist that the Constitution must protect all human life which begins at conception and ends at natural death.”

The discussion on abortion has attracted heated debate from both pro-life and pro-choice campaigners after the Parliamentary Select Committee on constitution review introduced a clause in the draft law to make it illegal to abort in Kenya unless when the life of the mother is in danger.


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