Kithure Kindiki's bid to change the law unacceptable

Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki wants to change the laws that guarantee Kenyans the right to assembly, to picket and to demonstrate.

This right is domiciled in the Bill of Rights under section two where Article 37 states: "Every person has the right, peaceably and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket, and to present petitions to public authorities." In the same constitution, among the roles, police are supposed to undertake to "comply with constitutional standards of human rights and fundamental freedoms".

The motivation for changing the law is therefore not only short-sighted but also selfish. The fact that Azimio leaders are using this section to express dissatisfaction is not reason enough to tinker with the law.

Prof Kidiki is saying he wants the law changed more so the Public Order Act and the Statutory Instruments Act to, among other things, define the duties of the security agencies to protect the right of those participating in the assembly, push the organisers of a demonstration to get consent from those likely to be affected by the assembly and demarcate areas where such gatherings can take place.

Whereas there could be reason to amend the laws for clarity, the timing by the Interior boss is suspect. It cannot be that when a section of Kenyans wants to picket then there is need for clarity on these fundamental rights. Changing the law because the government is uncomfortable with today's events is uncalled for.

Drafters of the Constitution envisaged a robust community where people are free to express themselves. An attempt at gagging this expression is abhorrable. There are many past examples of administrations trying to make laws that would serve them at the expense of society; some have been successful, but many were later found to have gone against the spirit of the Constitution.

Being a professor of law and having been a legislator, Prof Kindiki ought to know that good laws are made for posterity and that the future should be a guarantee for those in power and those not in power.

We ask Prof Kindiki to rethink his attempt at changing laws to serve the present.