NAIROBI, October 13 – The Kenya Chapter of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) said Monday that a comprehensive constitution review should take two years.,
ICJ Acting Director Priscilla Nyokabi said the one year agreed upon by leaders was not enough to ensure people’s views were reflected.
“One year is not enough because we have not agreed on many issues such as if women should inherit land or not; we need to agree on these principles before we make them constitutional,” she said.
Speaking at a consultative forum with the Kenya Parliamentary Journalists Association (KPJA) Ms Nyokabi argued that two years was sufficient time to educate Kenyans on the process to avoid political manipulation which has been blamed for the failed previous review processes.
“We don’t want a referendum of politics. There must be a lot of public education on the process,” she said.
The ICJ boss said the entire process should however be completed by 2011 to allow time for its implementation, adding that there was not point of rushing without ensuring a constitution that reflects ordinary people.
The jurists have also voiced support for piecemeal reforms.MS Nyokabi said the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK), the Judiciary and the police department were some of the institutions that required urgent consideration before setting up on the entire process.
She said there was need to have a strong ECK which would be in charge of the referendum.
“ECK has to be disbanded for people to have trust and confidence, the Judiciary also has to be reformed because as it is people don’t trust it,” she said.
Ms Nyokabi also cited the Kriegler report which emphasised on the need to disband the ECK saying that most people supported the recommendation, hence the reason to even move faster with the implementation.
She however expressed concerns that the political class had changed focus from the clamour for a new constitution, saying they were instead paying more attention to other issues of less importance.
She said ICJ had already presented its views to the Parliamentary Committee on Administration of Justice and Legal Affairs.
The Constitutional Amendment Bill (2008) and the Constitution Review Bill are before the House and they are soon expected to top Parliamentary agenda.