Judge orders MPs to pass gender rule

Parliament building in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Parliament building in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The National Assembly risks being dissolved in June if a two-thirds law on gender will not be legislated by then.

This follows a High Court verdict issued yesterday by Justice John Mativo who despite faulting Parliament for failing to legislate the gender rule even after an over one year deadline,  asked it to do so within the next 60 days.

At the end of the said period if the legislation would not have been effected as ordered, Justice Mativo ruled that anyone can write to the Chief Justice to move with speed and advise President Uhuru Kenyatta to dissolve Parliament.

“An order is hereby issued directing Parliament and the Attorney-General to take steps to ensure that the required legislation is enacted within a period of 60 days from the date of this order and to report the progress to the Chief Justice,” Justice Mativo said.

He said the failure by Parliament to enact the legislation was a notable violation of the rights of women to equality and freedom from discrimination.

The judge also pointed out concern that if the legislation is not done before the August 8 General Election, the next National Assembly would not be compliant to the gender principle.

He said the law provides that if the time stipulated by Parliament will already be dissolved, the next house will be required to do that legislation or still risk dissolution.

“I am satisfied that the Speakers of the National Assembly and the Senate have failed, refused or neglected to perform their constitutional mandate. Consequently, this case succeeds,” Justice Mativo ruled.

The judge further noted that the refusal to enact the required legislation amounts to denial of the fundamental rights guaranteed to citizens.

He said the constitution in itself is clear on the question of equality between men and women as well as the steps that were to be taken to give full effect to the realization of the two third gender rule.

Three lobbies — Centre for Rights Education & Awareness, Community Advocacy & Awareness Trust and the Kenya National Human Rights Commission — sued speakers of both Houses and the Attorney-General in September last year.
They sued to protest against the failure to enact the disputed legislation necessary for the implementation of the gender rule even after the deadline elapsed on August 27, 2016.

In 2015, High Court Judge Mumbi Ngugi ordered the Attorney-General and the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution to prepare and table the law for legislation.

In December 2012, the Supreme Court had directed Parliament to have a framework on the two third gender rule by August 27, 2015.