Year in Review

Year in review: The law moments of 2016

It has been a great year. Here at Bitala & Co. Advocates, we started the publication of a digital law magazine. We started as an online newsletter but soon transformed into a digital magazine. In this issue, we are proud to say that we have, since March 2016, published 9 Volumes of the magazine and as at 31st  December, 38 issues. But a lot more in the law sphere has happened in 2016. Let’s go on a flashback roller-coaster!

Willy Kimani

It was such a tragedy! But it was such a shame which has gone down as one of those historical shames in our justice system. Police men, to kill a lawyer, together with his client, and their taxi driver – That was the epitome of the disregard of the rule of law from the very people who are supposed to be custodians of the law. The hand of justice should strike the rogue police men with its full force.

Meanwhile, all law enforcers must respect lawyers. It was shameful when, recently, a lawyer visited a police station and was arrested too.  Come 2017, attacks on lawyers must stop.

The dissolution of the IEBC

We witnessed the power of people in 2016 when cord leader and his supporters took to the streets to demand the dissolution of the IEBC, electoral body in Kenya. After long many days of protests accompanied by police brutality, the IEBC was dissolved.

Following the dissolution of the electoral body, it cannot be said for sure that we shall have free and fair elections. Voter bribery, voter disenfranchisement, hate speech, breaches of secrecy of ballot must all not happen (which of course is only an invalid dream) or at least happen on a level that is not substantial (refer to decisions of the Supreme Court, Uganda in the presidential election petitions of 2011 and 2016 on the substantiality test), if we are to have free and fair election. But then again, we must not settle for the substantiality test. We must have free and fair elections.

Police brutality

We witnessed unprecedented high degrees of police brutality in Kenya and in Uganda. Thanks to social media and smart phones. Pictures of policemen beating up unarmed civilians went viral on social media. There was one of a policeman in full combat raising his leg, knee high to crash a protestor’s head while the protestor lay helplessly on the pavement. Others showed women raising their arms in surrender while a policeman or two are raising their sticks high up ready to strike the women.

The same brutality was depicted in the murder of Willy Kimani, his client and his driver. The same brutality was manifested in Uganda against the supporters of Kiiza Besigye, soon after the presidential elections in February 2016.

Corruption scandals

Our country was rocked with corruption scandal after corruption scandal. Media houses had a ball! We were treated to the shocking scandal in the Ministry of health where millions of money meant for maternal health was embezzled. Then there was another where more millions were stolen in Kilifi. There were some more. Public resources cannot be embezzled the way they were this year. The police must be empowered to deal with investigations regarding misuse of public resources. We must also weigh the purpose and composition of public bodies. Do we really need the ethics and anti-corruption commission? What if we had an ethics and anti-corruption department in the Police Force? And it does not cost a lot to have an elite police force.

The “winning” corruption scandal for me was the NYS scandal. Reports about how monies were stolen and carried around in car boots and in polythene bags were made. More so, a company with one shareholder and director (at a time when the Companies Act 2015 was not in force) successfully made bids for tenders in the NYS ministry.  Josephine Kabura, the only one who may not survive implication swore an affidavit that exposed the scandal.

Talking of affidavits…

Justice Kavuma and the affidavit

Uganda’s deputy chief justice, Steven Kavuma who is 69 years swore an affidavit that he is 65 years, 4 years younger than he actually is. According to the constitution of Uganda, judges of the Supreme Court retire at 70. If the affidavit is anything to go by, then the good deputy chief justice will earn himself another term on the bench.

Remember, it was an affidavit that formed the basis of the investigation into the character of Justice Tunoi and the initialization of the botched impeachment proceedings against Nairobi governor, Evans Kidero.

A new chief justice

Chief Justice Maraga is the president of the Supreme Court. His appointment came with some controversy. Some people said that the appointment was certainly most deserved while others said he was not qualified for the job and that he didn’t have the integrity needed for the job.

He is currently in office and his mettle will be tested during his tenure.

Refusal to admit non-Kenyans to the Kenya school of law

It came as a shock when the Council of Legal Education in Kenya announced that Kenya School of law would not train non-Kenyans for the award of Advocate of the High Court of Kenya. Whereas we are all working towards an East African community where there is movement of labour, a free market, surely, movement of students cannot be the exception.

But then again, until the decision of the Council of Legal Education is challenged before a court of law, then the decision stands.

What was your 2016 law moment? Let us share our experiences!

BY SAMALI BITALA

This article appears in our weekly digital law magazine, The Deuteronomy Vol 9, Issue 5 of December 31st 2016

To receive The Deuteronomy in real time, click HERE.

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