Kenya: LSK in 5-Day Court Boycott to Protest Defiance of Orders

Law Society of Kenya President Isaac Okero.
11 February 2018

The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) has announced a five-day court boycott from Monday to protest the disobedience of court directives by senior public officers.

However, the boycott will exclude courts handling election petitions as they are subject to strict timelines and a majority of them are almost concluding the cases before them.

LSK President Isaac Okero said the government, “which should demonstrate to citizens the importance of adhering to the law”, has failed in its mandate.

“Fidelity to the law is the solemn and patriotic obligation of all. When a government shows contempt for the law, it becomes impossible for it to require citizens to respect the same law it holds in contempt. Disregard of the law leads to anarchy,” Mr Okero said.

PEACEFUL MARCHES

Fully robed LSK members will hold peaceful marches across the country.

They will wear yellow ribbons as a sign of protest.

“Our nation faces perhaps the greatest challenge to the rule of law, with violation of rights and the brazen disregard of court orders by State and public officers,” Mr Okero said.

The society’s stand on the matter follows that of Chief Justice David Maraga who recently said court orders must be obeyed by all.

The CJ said disregard of such directives was at odds with the country’s constitutional outlook.

IGNORED ORDER

Last week, the government ignored an order directing the Communications Authority of Kenya to restore signals for TV stations shut down on January 30.

NTV, CitizenTV, KTN News and Inooro TV, which are now back on air, were shut down for broadcasting the swearing-in of National Super Alliance leader Raila Odinga as the “people’s president” at Uhuru Park on January 30.

LSK said it will institute proceedings on the matter.

Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet also ignored an order directing him to free Nasa activist and political commentator Miguna Miguna.

The High Court had ordered the politician to be released on a Sh50,000 cash bail following his arrest at his Runda home.

Mr Boinnet also ignored orders to appear in court in person.

According to Mr Okero, LSK is appearing through its lawyers in the Dr Miguna habeas corpus proceedings.

STATE ACTION

Habeas corpus means police cannot hold a citizen without producing him in court or without giving reasons for putting them in custody.

It is an important safeguard against arbitrary State action.

The Constitution provides that a person who is detained or held in custody can petition for an order of habeas corpus.

It is not the first time State officers are ignoring courts.

Principal secretaries Karanja Kibicho, Saitoti Torome and Monica Juma have been cited for contempt in the past for ignoring court orders.

“There is a palpable feeling of outrage and dismay at this display of contempt for the laws and the Constitution. There is genuine fear of what this portends for our democracy,” Mr Okero said.

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