Press Statement- Law Society of Kenya Statement on Presidential Remarks (16th December 2023)

The LSK President Eric Theuri (Centre) flanked by Faith Odhiambo, VP (right) and Florence Muturi, CEO (left). At the back were Council members from left,  Njoki Mboce, Ochieng Gor and Mwaura Kabata during the press briefing.

The Law Society of Kenya is deeply concerned about remarks made by the Head of State on 16th December, 2023, threatening to use the sword against those opposing the housing levy in court, terming those as enemies of Kenya. The President’s statements, which seem to label those utilizing constitutional court processes to question government decisions as adversaries of national progress, are a direct threat to the rule of law and administration of justice. As a primary defender of public interest, the LSK finds such characterizations misleading and deeply troubling.

The LSK recognizes the government’s efforts in advancing the affordable housing initiative, a commendable project that aligns with the constitutional rights of Kenyans. Yet, we must also be vigilant against any measures that impose undue financial burdens on the populace, especially when such measures appear to contradict constitutional mandates.

The courts have spoken about the unconstitutionality of the housing law as currently enacted. We are aware that the government has published a new bill to establish the levy, and we are currently reviewing the same for public participation as required by the Constitution. The government has similarly filed an appeal that is scheduled for hearing in the Court of Appeal soon. The President should therefore respect the ongoing constitutional processes and refrain from issuing such veiled threats.

The essence of our democracy lies in its commitment to human rights and adherence to the rule of law principles that must guide all governmental actions. The utterances by the President amount to a threat to the Court, which is scheduled to hear and determine the appeal, and undermine the authority of the Court.

The Law Society is also concerned about the recent re-emergence of incidences of enforced disappearance through abductions and the infamous comments by the President that ‘mambo ni matatu’. Those statements were followed by threats to parties who had cases in court to withdraw the same, and we are aware that several advocates were harassed and intimidated for representing clients’ cases, leading to the coerced withdrawal of cases. The increased incidence of the use of extra constitutional means to resolve court cases is a trend that poses significant risks to the rule of law in this country.

The LSK firmly believes in the resilience and power of the Kenyan people. Our commitment to hold the government accountable remains unwavering. We stand in solidarity with all Kenyans exercising their constitutional rights and will continue to support their efforts to uphold the rule of law.

The LSK calls upon our stakeholders, fellow Kenyans, and the international community to join in safeguarding Kenya’s constitutional integrity. We urge our judiciary to maintain its independence, ensuring that the rights of Kenyans are protected against any undue influence. The LSK remains dedicated to ensuring that the constitution continues to be the cornerstone of all governmental authority and action in Kenya. We reiterate our commitment to defending the rule of law and human rights in Kenya, standing firm in our resolve to serve and protect the interests of the Kenyan people.

Law Society of Kenya
Law Society of Kenya
The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) is Kenya’s premier bar association, with membership of all practicing advocates, currently numbering over twenty thousand members.

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