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Kenya: Lawyers to Help Draft New Laws

(June 2, 2008) Members of the Kenyan Parliament and the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) have agreed to jointly take part in drafting legislation under a “structured engagement” between the two groups. In her May 8, 2008, letter to members, LSK secretary and chief executive officer Betty Nyabuto urged the lawyers to volunteer and be available to help critique new bills, create new laws, and propose amendments to existing statutes. The LSK members had until May 30 to sign up for the pro bono experiment, in which they are “to work closely with Parliament's principal legal counsel Jeremiah Nyegenye.” The participating lawyers must be available to work on short notice once a bill is published; be conversant with law drafting; and be ready to make presentations before House departmental committees that deal with the specific legislation.

Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki reportedly refused to sign into law a number of bills adopted by the previous Parliament, citing the existence of loopholes. The legislators were in many cases criticized for “shoddy work”, but, as a news report points out, “the crucial, initial work of law making” is the responsibility of the office of the attorney-general, whose drafting department is said to be understaffed. (Owino Opondo, Kenya: Lawyers to Help in Writing Fresh Laws, THE NATION (Nairobi), May 13, 2008, available at