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Kenyan MPs in Britain to lobby against attempt to ban ‘miraa’ sale

CENTRAL
By Moses Njagi | November 19th 2013

By MOSES NJAGIH

NAIROBI, KENYA: A high-powered parliamentary delegation will today meet a committee of the House of Commons in their bid to lobby Parliament to reject a move by the British Government to impose a ban on miraa or restrict its sale.

The delegation, which is being led by Meru Senator Kiraitu Murungi and which includes eleven other legislators, arrived in London at the weekend for the advocacy mission as the push against the British Government’s decision to restrict and regulate sale of the stimulant gains momentum.

The lobbying of the House of Commons to reject the proposal by Home Secretary Theresa May that the Government enacts a law to ban miraa  comes even as traders and farmers of the stimulant await direction from the High Court in London on a suit they have filed challenging the move.

Yesterday, Kiraitu revealed that their mission is to lobby for support of UK parliamentarians.

“We will be appearing before a committee of the House of Commons tomorrow (today) to lobby the support of the British Parliament. We want them to join us by way of rejecting the proposal made by their Home Secretary towards enacting a law to ban miraa,” revealed Kiraitu.

Kiraitu and the Chairperson of the National Assembly’s ad hoc Committee on miraa, Ms Florence Kajuju,  are among those who will testify in the suit challenging May’s decision.

The senator said they were now awaiting the fixing of a hearing date by the High Court.

Irrational

In the suit filed by Queens Counsel Paul Garlick of Dass Solicitors, the traders term a decree by the Home Secretary to control sale and consumption of the stimulant in UK as irrational and lacking proportionality. The traders have told the High Court in the UK that the decision was taken without scientific evidence to prove miraa is a drug.

The case seeks to reverse the decision taken under the country’s Misuse of Drugs Act, on grounds that it is a class C drug.

But the farmers are accusing May of failing to take into account the expert scientific evidence contained in a report prepared for the government by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, while making her decision.

In its report, the council had advised that miraa should not be controlled as their scientific research had not found the stimulant to have any adverse medical effects.

“She (May) failed to make consideration whether it is necessary and proportionate in the democratic society of the UK to prohibit the use of khat,” said the traders. They argue that the Home Secretary failed to consider the adverse effects that her decision would have on economies of foreign countries like Kenya who export the stimulant to the UK.

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