02 April 2024

Colonialism, Criminal Law, and the Dustbin of History

In a ruling that is important beyond Kenya, the Kenyan High Court has delivered a milestone judgment. By striking down a provision of the Kenyan Criminal Code on subversion, the Court takes a significant step towards further doing away with the colonial legacy in the Kenyan legal system. The judgment exemplifies how judges in postcolonial contexts interpret the law against the backdrop of the country’s history.

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12 March 2024

How Populist Politicians Are Weakening the Kenyan Judiciary

The Kenyan President and his parliamentary allies are guilty of constitutional vandalism. In what has become an increasingly popular political move, they conveniently blame the judiciary for their unfulfilled promises, making the courts an easy target in a democracy backsliding. Lacking public outreach – judges neither organise rallies nor post on social media –, the judiciary has become a scapegoat to rally political support. While courts aren't beyond criticism, some attacks are self-serving, often from those with pending or impending court cases.

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14 April 2023
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(No) News from East Africa

Whilst the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill is unconstitutional and should not be recognized by the national courts, the initiation of such a bill already catalyses tremendous consequences for the community. Further, considering the historical context of this Bill and realising the political expediency that drives the promotion bills like this this will certainly not be the end of developments in Uganda (and beyond). This is why it is critical that human rights defenders across the continent anticipate these setbacks and plan for contingencies.

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29 June 2022

The Ogiek Struggle for Recognition in Kenya

In a judgment handed down in Arusha on 23rd June 2022, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) affirmed its 2017 ruling that the Ogiek people are indigenous to the Mau Forest and that they are its ancestral owners, granting them a collective title to be achieved through delimitation, demarcation and registration of their land. The reasoning by the Court will have a significant bearing on the struggles of other indigenous peoples seeking to secure their land and livelihoods.

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27 May 2022

Revitalizing the Right to Abortion in Kenya

On 24 March 2022, the Kenya High Court delivered a momentous ruling on the right to abortion. The decision sets a tempo in safeguarding women’s rights not only in Kenya but across the world. It is yet another great contribution from the Global South to global constitutional debate, reminding us that judges should be ready and willing to deploy their interpretive armory when protecting rights.

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17 May 2022

Boda boda registration in Kenya

In Kenya, typical moments during which citizens' rights are limited have followed emergencies, such as terrorist attacks or the COVID-19 pandemic. It is much easier to implement personally invasive policies such as biometric identification under urgency and addressing only a section of the public. A recent incident involving motorcycle taxis in Kenya, popularly known as boda bodas, illustrates this.

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10 June 2021

Constitutional Triumph or Constitutional Aberration?

The Kenyan Hight Court's incorporation of the basic structure doctrine into the Kenyan constitutional framework has been generally received as a cause for celebration among constitutional scholars. This article, however, calls for some restraint in the growing scholarly celebration of efforts to expand the basic structure doctrine.

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22 May 2021

The BBI Judgment and the Invention of Kenya

On 13 May 2021, the Constitutional and Human Rights Division of the High Court of Kenya delivered its judgment in David Ndii and Others vs The Attorney General and Others, widely referred to as the BBI judgment. The shape and future of the constitution is not all that is contested. So too is Kenya’s history.

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19 May 2021

The Basic Structure Doctrine arrives in Kenya

On 13 May 2021, a panel of five High Court justices ruled that the so-called Basic Structure Doctrine applies in Kenya. The judgment is not only a milestone from the perspective of comparative constitutional law; it might also change the future landscape of constitutionalism in Africa.

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29 April 2021
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COVID-19 in Kenya a Year Later: A Case of Déjà Vu

What began as a health crisis quickly morphed into an economic, human rights and governance upheaval. In March 2021, we came full circle as we saw a return to excessive law enforcement in the country on account of the third wave of the virus, which has led to a surge in the number of people testing positive and thrown the country back into a state of disarray as poorly resourced health facilities grapple with the influx of cases.

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14 May 2020
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Excessive Law Enforcement in Kenya

Kenya's President is yet to declare a state of emergency and has opted to implement measures that ensure citizens can continue with their lives. Constitutionally, rights may only be limited by law and only to the extent that is reasonable and justifiable in an open and democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom.

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