13 May 2008

Kenya: Lawyers to Help in Writing Fresh Laws

Nairobi — Parliament and the Law Society of Kenya have agreed to jointly participate in drafting new legislation.

Top LSK officials, who recently paid a courtesy call on Speaker Kenneth Marende in his office at Parliament Buildings, agreed that they have a role in ensuring that MPs passed good laws.

Crucial task

"This is a very crucial task and our participation as a society has always been inevitable," says LSK secretary and chief executive officer Betty Nyabuto in a letter to members, dated May 8.

In the letter, Ms Nyabuto also calls on LSK members to volunteer and be available to take part in critiquing new Bills, creating new laws and proposing amendments to existing statutes.

Those who wish to take part in the pro bono (for free) exercise, "under the current structured engagement between LSK and the National Assembly" have until May 30 to sign up. They will work closely with Parliament's principal legal counsel Jeremiah Nyegenye.

LSK members who want to participate in the process, should be available at short notice as soon the Bills are published.

They should also be conversant with law drafting and have legislative competence.

The volunteers should also be ready to make presentations before House departmental committees dealing with laws or Bills in question.

During the previous Parliament, President Kibaki refused to sign into law a number of Bills, citing loopholes.

In many cases the MPs came under attack for shoddy work. Yet the crucial, initial work of law making lies with drafters within the office of the attorney-general, Amos Wako.

However, the drafting department under the AG is said to be understaffed.

All Bills, once introduced in Parliament, are referred to respective departmental committees where the about 10-member teams scrutinise them and then propose amendments.

Reject them

The Ninth Parliament in some cases, personified laziness, and committee reports were sketchy.

The rest of the House then passed such wanting Bills, only for the President to reject them.

This may explain why the President, on first round, declined to give assent to the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendment) Bill, the Political Parties Bill and the Media Bill.

MPs had to revise the proposed laws before the Head of State, finally, gave them his nod.

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