Top Stories / National
Sunday, 14 May 2017 17:28 EATnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.com
The High Court judge John Mativo on Friday directed that cabinet secretary for Interior Joseph Nkaissery implement the Public Benefit Organizations Act, 2013 within 30 days or face civil jail.
In a ruling on Petition No. 351 of 2015 and the subsequent contempt of court case that arose after the government failed to obey the court's directive to commence the Act, Justice Mativo ruled that the minister should now follow the court's directive or be jailed personally.
"This verdict is a triumph against impunity and the creeping culture of disregard for the rule of law as prescribed in Article 10 of the Constitution. It is the biggest blow to Executive fiat and its attendant impunity that seems to thrive on harassment and intimidation of independent and critical voices in the society," said Civil Society Reference Group (CSRG) president Churchill Suba.
In December 2016, Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice (KPTJ), in collaboration with the Public Benefit Organizations Litigation Team, and Trusted Society of Human Rights Alliance filed contempt of court proceedings against the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Devolution and Planning, and the Attorney General for failing to commence the Public Benefit Organizations Act as directed by the High Court.
Despite the High Court ruling for its immediate commencement on October 31, 2016, the Government failed to act on the court order and instead transferred the NGO Coordination docket from the Ministry of Devolution and Planning to that of Interior and Coordination of National Government in what seems to have been a deliberate attempt to defeat justice and evade the responsibility to gazette a commencement date of the new NGO law.
The commencement of the PBO Act is long overdue, having been passed by the 10th Parliament in 2012 and assented to by retired President Mwai Kibaki more than four (4) years ago on January 14, 2013.
The PBO Act is the law seeking to provide a more enabling environment for NGOs, yet as of today, the government seems to prefer operating under the outdated and draconian NGO Coordination Act of 1990 because of its broad, vague and arbitrary provisions that leave room for caprice and abuses, Mr Suba said.
The president said that "recent actions against Kalonzo Musyoka Foundation, the Kenya Human Rights Commission and Evans Kidero Foundation all of which have had to go to court to ward off threats of deregistration by the Board without any regards to the rule of law should be seen in this context."
Jack is a business and society writer at the Kenya Free Press