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A seven-judge bench of the appellate court ruled that the Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill 2020 (BBI) is null and void and its processes were unlawful.

The legal battle over the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) set for the Supreme Court has attracted top foreign constitutional law experts. Professors Richard Albert (USA), Yaniv Roznai (Israel), Rosalind Dixon (Australia), David E. Landau (USA) and Gautam Bhatia (India) seek to participate in the case as friends of the court.

Although they claim to be impartial and have no personal or pecuniary interests in the matter or its outcome, they seem to be opposed to the Bill.

Prof Albert says the Bill is not properly understood as a constitutional amendment, but rather as “a constitutional dismemberment” due to the vast number of proposed alterations and the content of the changes.

“The Bill seeks to transform the Constitution of Kenya in a way that exceeds the boundaries of the existing constitution. The Bill is 45 pages in total, it contains 74 amendment articles, and it includes two Schedules appended to the main text,” he says.

If the BBI Bill is ultimately adopted, he argues, its dozens of amendment articles will affect almost the entirety of the Constitution, effectively leaving none of the existing laws unchanged either expressly or by implication. That is not the work of a constitutional amendment, he says.

Prof Albert and Prof Roznai intend to address the court on five questions each in relation to the constitutional amendment.

Prof Roznai says the basic structure doctrine is applicable in Kenya and indeed, in the Constitution, several topics may only be amended by the people and not Parliament.

This is contrary to the argument held by Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki, who wants the Supreme Court to declare that the Constitution does not have a basic structure. 

Prof Dixon, Prof Landau and Prof Bhatia also intend to inform the court that the constitution has a basic structure.

“As in other countries around the world, the express limitations and procedures found in Arts 255-57 of the Kenyan Constitution are complements to a basic structure doctrine in Kenya, and in fact provide support for the existence of a basic structure doctrine,” they say.

They want to make joint submissions on six issues to assist the court in its role in the development of law.
On electoral boundary delimitations (proposal to create 70 new constituencies), the scholars suggest that the decisions of the High Court and the Court of Appeal were correct.

They held that the delimitation of boundaries and apportionment of the proposed constituencies was the role of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

“Comparative experience clearly shows that where electoral districts are drawn by political incumbents, or in a highly partisan manner, this threatens basic principles of electoral democracy by allowing those actors to create a “tilted” playing field that renders elections increasingly unfair,” states their brief.

In their applications filed yesterday, the scholars are seeking to be admitted so as to assist the court in determination of the questions raised in the dispute by the appellants.

The petitions of appeal were filed by the AG, IEBC and lawyers Omoke Morara and Charles Kanjama. The dispute moved to the Supreme Court after a seven-judge bench of the appellate court ruled that the Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill 2020 (BBI) is null and void and its processes were unlawful. 

While describing themselves as “world-renowned scholars, experts and specialists in the area of constitutional amendment”, the professors says they possess the requisite professional skills that can assist the court in determining the dispute.

The Supreme Court judges will convene on October 21 to give directions on the hearing of the appeals.  By Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

United Green Movement (UGM) party has protested plans by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to enrol Kenyans in select countries to take part in the 2022 General Election.

The party said all Kenyans across the world are entitled to vote back home and should be given a chance to do so because it is their democratic right.

Augustine Neto, a co-party leader of UGM said the move by the electoral body to list new voters from 6 countries over and above the five listed in the 2017 election will deny hundreds of thousands of voters in the other countries a chance to exercise their right as enshrined in the Constitution.

“Nothing stops the IEBC from having a Returning Officer in each of the Kenya’s Foreign Missions and Embassies abroad, albeit periodically, or even through secondment to deal with the issues of diaspora voter registration, apart from its ineptitude and the lack of will power to think out of the box,” said Neto who is a former MP for Ndhiwa.

IEBC said it plans to list new voters in South Sudan, USA, United Kingdom, Canada, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates which met the minimum requirement of 3,000 voters.

The six new voting stations in the diaspora, have now been classified as Kenya’s 48th county.

The six are additional to the existing Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and South Africa, which participated in the 2017 presidential election.

With IEBC undertaking an enhanced Mass Voter Registration exercise targeting six million voters, Neto said that target can be achieved easily if all eligible Kenyans abroad are included.

 

According to the 2019 World Bank report, majority of Kenyans in the diaspora were in the USA (600,000), while the UK had 300,000, Canada 200,000, European Union at 100,000, as South Africa and South Sudan each had 8,000.

The former Ndhiwa MP has also threatened a class action suit suing the Registrar of Person for delaying in the issuance of identity cards to youth in Garissa, Lamu and Tana River counties years after they filed their applications.

“We were in Garissa County where we were doing a tour. Young people in the county as well as in Lamu and Tana River have been denied access to identification cards due to the stereotype that people with Somali descent as well as those living in the coastal line are linked to terrorism activities,” Neto said.

In particular he pointed out that while Section 5 of the Registration of Person Act stipulates 30 days as the waiting period, some applicants have waited for long to receive the document that will ensure they register as voters.

The UGM party has called on the electoral commission chaired by Wafula Chebukati to find innovative ways to mobilize Kenyans to register as voters, especially the youth.

IEBC last week said it aims to register six million new voters who have attained the age if 18 years and have acquired national identification cards or have valid passports, or other citizens who were not registered in previous registrations. By Irene Mwangi, Capital News

Education minister Janet Museveni (left) receives a dummy indicating the donated doses from Belgium Ambassador Rud Veestraeten at State Lodge Nakasero, Kampala, yesterday. PHOTO/MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI

At least 551,200 of the donated vaccines are AstraZeneca doses.

Speaking yesterday at the official handover ceremony of the vaccines at State Lodge Nakasero in Kampala, Ms Museveni said preparations are underway to allow the government of Belgium to also donate 100,000 doses of Johnson and Johnson, which are also expected in the country soon.

According to Ms Museveni, the first batch of 153,900 of 551,200 AstraZeneca donated doses arrived in the country on on September 23 and were handed over to the National Medical Stores (NMS) for distribution.

She added that the balance of 397,300 doses of AstraZeneca are still expected through the Covax facility, with a batch of 28,800 doses expected in the country tomorrow.

“We have been asking our development partners to donate more vaccines to the government of Uganda to fasten the vaccination of teachers, non-teaching staff and students above 18 years and reopen schools,” Ms Museveni said.

 

“With this donation, the Belgium government is supporting the efforts of the government of Uganda meeting its target of vaccinating against Covid-19 all targeted people in the education sector, “ she added.

Ms Museveni said once they receive the expected Johnson and Johnson doses, they will be able to cover more people since one is required to take only one dose of this type of vaccine.

Government has since pegged reopening of schools for all learners on sufficient vaccination of all teachers, non-teaching staff, students above 18 years, and other target groups in the country.

Government targets to vaccinate at least 550,000 teachers and more than 300,000 students above 18 years.

To date, a total of 296,614 teachers have received their first jab, while 102,418 teachers have received the two required doses. This means a total of 253,386 teachers are yet to be vaccinated.

Ambassador Veestraeten said he is hopeful the doses they have donated are enough to cover all the target groups in the education sector so that the government reopens schools for all learners.

“We share the same concern with the government of Uganda that education is a right as enshrined in the Constitution. However, the only thing hindering reopening is the Covid-19 pandemic. We are hopeful the donation will enable reopening as soon as possible,” Mr Veestraeten said.

Vaccination

Teacher’s status

To date, a total of 296,614 teachers have received their first jab, while 102,418 teachers have received the two required doses. This means a total of 253,386 teachers are yet to be vaccinated. By Damali Mukhaye, Daily Monitor

  • President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses journalists after commissioning hospitals on Tuesday night, July 6.
    PSCU
 
  • President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday, October 4, responded to a report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) dubbed the Pandora Papers linking his family to accounts holding billions of shillings in tax havens. 

    In a statement, the President - although not comprehensive - assured the country and the world at large that he will issue a detailed response once he jets back into the country from a state tour in Barbados.

    He, however, noted that the Pandora Papers and any other audits will set the record straight and unveil secrets for those who cannot explain sources of their wealth. 

    "These reports will go a long way in enhancing the financial transparency and openness that we require in Kenya and around the globe. The movement of illicit funds, proceeds of crime and graft thrive in an environment of secrecy and darkness," stated the President.

    "The Pandora Papers and subsequent follow-up audits will lift that veil of secrecy and darkness for those who can not explain their assets or wealth. Thank you." 

    The Pandora Papers linked the Kenyatta family to offshore bank accounts and companies valued at over Ksh3.3 billion.

    ICIJ obtained over 12 million leaked files that were perused over by 600 investigative journalists. The leaked documents alleged that Kenyatta’s family led by Mama Ngina Kenyatta, his son Uhuru and the siblings amassed wealth offshore specifically Panama and the British Virgin Islands (BVI). 

    At the centre of the purchases and financial transactions was a Panamanian law firm identified as Aleman, Cordero, Galindo & Lee (Alcogal), whose documents revealed that the first family own at least seven companies and foundations overseas. Among them is a home in Central London, United Kingdom. 

    “The records show that the family-owned at least seven such entities, two registered anonymously in Panama and five in the British Virgin Islands,” details ICIJ.

    Other than Kenyatta, among the 35 world leaders mentioned in the leaked papers were President Ali Bongo of Gabon and the King of Jordan and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. 

    g
    President Uhuru Kenyatta (front), First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and the President's aide de camp at State House, Nairobi
    PSCU  Kenyans.co.ke
     
 
 
 
 
FILE - Police arrest a man in Bujumbura, Burundi, Feb. 3, 2016. Widespread rights violations and repressive measures in the country are hidden behind a façade of democracy, U.N. investigators have found.
 

U.N. investigators are accusing Burundi’s government of hiding widespread rights violations and repressive measures behind a façade of democracy. The charge comes in a report by the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi submitted to the U.N Human Rights Council.

The commission on inquiry says encouraging signs that Burundi might be moving toward a more democratic society following the election of President Evariste Ndayishimiye have proven to be an illusion.

Despite initial improvements in human rights at the end of the electoral process in 2020, Commission Chair Doudou Diene notes a significant increase in violations as of June this year.

“To date, only symbolic gestures, though welcome, and often controversial decisions, have been made so far. These are neither sufficient nor adequate to have a sustainable and profound impact on the human rights situation. The façade of normalization hides a very concerning human rights situation,” Diene said, speaking through an interpreter.

The report finds most violations occur in the context of the fight against armed groups allegedly responsible for attacks throughout the country since August of last year.

However, Diene said the Commission believes these armed attacks have been used as an excuse to pursue political opponents in violation of their human rights.

He said Burundian authorities are tightening their grip over the activities of civil society and denying people their right to freedom of expression and association. He said the government has cracked down on a free media and has suspended some media outlets.

He said journalists who dare to question or criticize the government are vilified, intimidated, or threatened.

“It is clear that the Burundian authorities consider that civil society’s sole purpose is to assist them and to support government projects, thereby denying the very principle of freedom of association. In particular, it seeks to control the operating costs of NGO’s and the salaries of expatriates,” Diene said.

In his rebuttal, Burundi’s ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, Renovat Tabu, ignored all criticisms raised by the Commission. He cited the many improvements he said his government made in the fight against injustice, in furthering freedom of opinion and of the press, in education and a wide range of other human rights.

He said Burundi had several institutions engaged in the promotion and protection of human rights. He added that Burundi’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission was operational and doing an excellent job in cementing national reconciliation. VOA

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