ICJ opposes BBI, terms proposed constitutional amendments ‘unnecessary’

Written By: Eric Biegon

ICJ Kenya says there is no guarantee that the BBI proposals will address the underlying social-political concerns. PHOTO / COURTESY

The proposed constitution review process under the Building Bridges Initiative continues to attract mixed responses. The Kenyan Section of the International Commission of Jurists is the latest institution to weigh into the discourse.

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ICJ Kenya has joined those who have expressed opposition to report claiming that the BBI proposed constitutional amendments are not a priority, even as it termed them ‘unnecessary’.

ICJ Kenya Chairman Kelvin Mogeni says that after a close scrutiny of the proposals contained in the report, there is no guarantee that the proposed constitutional amendments will address the underlying social-political concerns.

“The proposed constitutional amendments will not be the magic bullets to the current social, economic, and legal concerns that affect the Kenyan people.” Mugeni said

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The Non-Governmental Organization instead says the issues identified can be cured by entrenching political will, instituting policy and legal reform.

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Indeed, Mogeni is adamant that the current Constitution has neither been accorded adequate time to organically shape the legal, political, economic, and social landscape. It insists that what is needed is for the Constitution 2010 to be meaningfully and deliberately implemented.

“As a Commission of Jurists, our considered view is that the proposed amendments take away the gains contained in the Constitution 2010 and undermine the rule of law.” He said in a statement Thursday

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“The 2010 Constitution provides mechanisms to curb corruption and inculcate national values and principles in Kenya; what is required is the political will to implement the 2010 Constitution fully.” He added

ICJ Kenya further claims that the BBI process failed to inculcate a people-driven and people centric approach noting that it has been characterized by general mistrust, divergent political and contested interests.

“The 2010 Constitution is lauded as one of the most progressive constitutions in the continent, having been drafted through an inclusive people-driven process in which a majority of Kenyans believed captures the will of the people.” Noted Mogeni

At the same time, the lobby says the social, economic, and legal concerns raised in the report do not require substantive constitutional reform measures.

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“On further analysis, we posit that the BBI report does not lay out clearly defined arguments for substantive constitutional questions as response measures to the challenges raised therein.” Mogeni said

It further cites the proposal to introduce the Judiciary Ombudsman which it alleges will outrightly undermine judicial independence as one of the reasons behind its opposition of the report.

According to ICJ the proposals that seek to address gender parity in political processes “are ill-conceived, and the recommendations on devolution are not favorable or consistent with the letter and spirit of the Constitution 2010.”

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