International Bar Association – Debate on Kenya’s Draft Constitution and Implication for Elections

IBAHRI presents a debate on Kenya’s draft constitution and its implications for the upcoming elections

On 19 April 2010, the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), in conjunction with the International Legal Assistance Consortium (ILAC), is hosting an open discussion on the highly-anticipated draft constitution in Kenya and its potential ability to deter future election-related violence.

The panel will be comprised of four experts, highly-renowned for their work on and interest in Kenya: Michela Wrong, British journalist and author of It’s Our Turn to Eat: The Story of a Kenyan Whistle-Blower; Sir Edward Clay, former British High Commissioner in Kenya (2001-2005); Ben Rawlence, researcher for the Africa Division of Human Rights Watch; and Apollo Mboya, CEO and Secretary of the Law Society of Kenya, who will be travelling from Nairobi to the UK to attend this event. James Dingemans QC, Chair of the International Committee of the Bar Council, will be chairing the discussion.

This debate comes at a crucial point in Kenya’s efforts to reform. A previous draft constitution was defeated in a constitutional referendum in 2005, which sparked ethnic tensions and led to widespread violence in 2007 following disputed presidential election results. After months of heated debate, the Kenyan Parliament passed the new constitution without amendments on 1 April 2010. It will be put to vote in a referendum before 2 July 2010.

The draft constitution, if accepted, would initiate extensive political, economic and social reform. The question still remains, however, as to whether the new draft marks the right step towards attaining greater democracy or whether the country is at risk of repeating its violent political history.

This event follows an IBAHRI-ILAC mission to Kenya in October 2009, the findings of which can be read in a recent report entitled Restoring Integrity: an assessment of the needs of the justice sector in the Republic of Kenya. The report can be accessed via the IBAHRI website: www.ibanet.org/IBAHRI.aspx.

The discussion will take place on Monday, 19 April 2010, from 1830-2000 at the Bar Council for England and Wales, London. Attendance is free, but registration is required. Email [email protected] to register.

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