Court suspends controversial alcohol law

January 14, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 14 – The High Court has now suspended the controversial Alcoholic Drinks Act 2010 that imposed strict restrictions on drinking hours.

High Court Judge John Mwera issued the order after the Muranga Bar owners Association moved to court challenging the law that came into force on December 17 last year.

"The Alcoholic Drinks Act 2010 and Regulation gazetted by Internal Security Minister George Saitoti on December 17 is draconian and has led to arbitrary arrest of patrons and staff," the association\’s lawyer Jeremiah Mbuthia argued in court.

The law will be in force until Tuesday when the matter comes up for an inter-partes (all parties) hearing.

"Bar owners have become a target of extortion by police and the National Campaign Against Drug Abuse Authority (NACADA) purporting to implement the new law," he claimed.

The judge said: "The order, restrains police and the provincial administration officers from unlawfully harassing, coercing, arbitrarily arresting, intimidating and interfering with the businessmen\’s employees in the course of operating or selling licensed drinks."

Hundreds of people have been arrested in the past weeks. In Nairobi alone 55 people were charged in court for drinking alcohol out-of-hours.

Those charged were fined Sh30,000 or  ordered to serve six months in jail.

Section 34 a of the Alcoholic Drinks Act of 2010 now commonly referred to as Mututho rules says alcohol should only be consumed between 5 pm and 11 pm during weekdays and from 2 pm on weekends.

Anti-alcohol and drugs campaigners have welcomed the new rules, but bar owners and the country\’s all-important tourism sector have been highly critical.

Bars owners have complained of loss of business and some were contemplating layoffs due to the law which they claimed has seriously implicated on them.

Last year 55 bar owners from Embu made a similar application claiming that they were losing in excess of Sh1 million daily and their case is due in court on January 18.


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