, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 9 – Parliament has approved a law which if assented to, will end the practice where a few civil servants and the president unilaterally decide who receives national honours without publicising the criteria used.
The National Honours Bill 2012 which has been sponsored by Wajir West MP Adan Keynan seeks to create special committees that will decide the criteria to be used in awarding honours such as Chief of Burning Spear (CBS) and Elder of the Order of the Burning Spear (EBS).
Over the years, the selection of those to be honoured and the criteria used to identify them has been unclear.
Concerns have been raised that political considerations, family connections other than merit have determined those presented with the national awards.
The Bill proposes the establishment of three advisory committees which will be in charge of recommending those to receive the national honours.
The National and County Governments Honours Advisory Committee will be responsible for recommending State or public officers for recognition; the Parliamentary Honours Advisory Committee will be in charge of considering lawmakers, former MPs or civil servants serving the parliamentary service or independent commissions while a third committee will recommend serving or past judges, magistrates, judicial officers or members of staff of the judiciary for the awards.
The Bill also seeks to ensure that only those who exhibit exemplary qualities, actions or achievements of heroism, sacrifice, bravery, patriotism or leadership for the defence, benefit or betterment of the country or a county receive the national honours.
People who have made an exemplary contribution to the country or a county in the economic, social, scientific, academic, public administration, governance, sports, journalism, business, security or other fields will also be considered for the national awards.
For public or State officers to receive the award, they must have made an exemplary contribution to the betterment of the national or county governments, the Executive, the Judiciary, the Legislature, an independent commission or an independent office.
Athletes, artists and others who have brought honour and glory to the country will also qualify to receive the award.
And for the first time, a committee recommending anyone for the conferment of the honours should prior to forwarding the list publish its proposals in at least two daily newspapers of national circulation to give the public time to present their views or objections to the proposal.
The committees will be expected to take the public’s views into consideration before presenting the list to the president.