MPs reject lawyers input in committees

October 12, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 12 – Members of Parliament have rejected a proposal by civil society organisations to be included in the recruitment and vetting of appointees to the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC).

The Law Society of Kenya (LSK), the International Commission of Jurists, and Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) had urged the parliamentary committee on Justice and Legal Affairs to push for amendments to the CIC Bill that would have seen their representatives included in a recruitment panel.

In the meeting, however, Nominated MP Amina Abdalla challenged the organisations to prove that they represented \’public participation\’ as they alleged.

"How will we justify that including LSK, ICPAK (Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya) and KNHCR (Kenya National Commission on Human Rights) will amount to public participation and how will other members of other professional bodies whose members will apply to be considered feel about being left out of the process?" posed Ms Abdalla.

She cited the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission which was constituted by the civil society but which has failed to gain public confidence.

"The institutions that proposed the names to the TJRC were the first to throw stones at the candidates that were appointed," she added.

The MPs also rejected an alternative of having the Parliamentary Constitutional Oversight Committee interview the candidates saying it would be against the spirit of the independence of other arms of government.

"We have decided that we will not be playing that role anymore (interviewing commissioners)," said Mandera Central MP Abdikadir Mohammed. "Shouldn\’t we let the Executive initiate that process so that we can do better (sic) our oversight role?"

"Why would you want to bring back Parliament into execution role?"  

"We have been equal participants in birthing this Constitution and if we leave the implementation to Parliament and the Executive alone I think there will be injury to the process," protested ICJ Chief Executive George Kegoro.

"Coming from a gender perspective we would want to represent the civil society," added FIDA Chairperson Naomi Wagereka.

The organisations had claimed the Public Service Commission could not be entrusted to ensure a credible process since some of the commissioners have a tainted past and have been implicated in past scandals.

"If the Public Service Commission had been vetted and constituted properly then that would have been the ideal way but as for now it\’s nothing less than an organised gang within government."

The Cabinet last month also rejected a similar proposal to involve the civil society in the recruitment, citing the case of the TJRC which has faced credibility questions despite their input.

The CIC Bill gives the PSC sole power to shortlist applicants after which it will convene a meeting of the selection panel to be joined by officers from the Office of the President, the Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.


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