Court cases on Kenya draft law persist

July 6, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 6 – A group of lawyers and doctors have now moved to court seeking to have a clause relating to abortion in the proposed Constitution expunged.

They claim that Article 26(4) of the proposed Constitution does not represent the views and opinions of people and want the Interim Independent Constitutional Dispute Resolution Court (IICDRC) to strike it out.

The petitioners argue that the Committee of Experts (CoE) unlawfully ignored recommendations by the  Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on Constitution Review that was in tandem with the Bomas Draft by inserting ‘a controversial clause’.

“The insertion of words not recommended by the PSC renders the constitutional process a nullity and is imperative for the court to intervene,” their petition read.

The group also assert that words introduced to the abortion clause by the CoE generated great public debate and anxiety that could jeopardise Kenyans’ quest for a new Constitution.

“It will be unjust if the proposed Constitution is defeated only on the basis of abortion,” they said.

Led by Edris Nicholas Omondi, the group also claimed that the CoE had not offered any convincing explanation why they departed from the PSC\’s recommendation.

“The CoE exceeded its mandate when it purported to change clauses regarding the rights to freedom of conscience, religion and opinion by entirely drafting new provisions.”

Further, the CoE was accused of altering provisions in the existing draft constitution by removing a clause that gave Parliament the power to vet and approve treaties and international agreements before they were ratified by the President.

“We verily believe that the removal of the said clause undermines our right and other Kenyans to participate through the National Assembly in the law making process and undermines Kenya\’s sovereignty and her right to safeguard, protect and enhance her unique character in the community of nations,\’\’ they argued.

The petitioners want the relevant provision on the treaties amended to revert to the form that was presented in the initial draft.

They also want the IICDRC to declare that the CoE has no power to disregard the recommendations of the PSC in respect to the clause on right to life; that it (the CoE) overstepped its mandate when it reopened debate on issues that were not contentious.

They are further asking the court to issue an order to rectify the Third Schedule of the proposed Constitution to include the oath or solemn affirmation by the Prime Minister.


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