Plot to give Deputy President William Ruto immunity declared unconstitutional
By David Ohito
| April 19th 2016
Uproar greeted a proposal to give the deputy president immunity and bar the Senate from vetting the Inspector General of Police.
If it ever sees the light of day, the proposed law will see the deputy president shielded from facing criminal and civil proceedings before any court while in office. Currently, only the President enjoys this privilege.
The bill strips the Senate of its vetting powers in the appointment of the Inspector General of Police (IG) and assigns the same to the National Assembly. The proposed law, which was published for introduction to the National Assembly, seeks to shield the DP from prosecution by amending Article 143 of the Constitution.
Experts dismissed it as unconstitutional and an attempt to entrench impunity. The proposed law is sponsored by Igembe South MP Mithika Linturi.
Law Society of Kenya (LSK) President Isaac Okero dismissed the proposed law as unconstitutional and a dilution of the sovereign powers and abuse of the supremacy of the Constitution.
“The President carries out functions of his office as a democratically elected representative of the people of Kenya who are the ultimate custodians of sovereign power under Article 1 (2) of the Constitution,” Mr Okero said.
Siaya Senator James Orengo claimed Jubilee was reintroducing an imperial presidency and bringing back an all powerful president and deputy who could not be tried.
Senate Minority Leader Moses Wetang’ula said: “This is an attempt to abrogate the Constitution which we will not allow.”
LSK took issue with the oversight role of Parliament in the presidential appointment of the IG saying it was an exercise of the sovereign authority of the people through their elected representatives.
“The amendment seeks to deprive the people of this oversight by excluding their elected senators from this process,” LSK said.
Lawyer Paul Muite said he had no problems with extending immunity to the deputy president for the terms he served but said the law should seek to repeal Article 145 which deals with removal of the President through impeachment. “As it stands it cannot pass the test because how will we impeach the deputy president? Does it mean he will stay in office even after he is found to lack capacity to serve?” Mr Muite wondered.
“Parliament has no powers to amend the Constitution and deny the Senate its functions. That law risks being struck out by the courts,” he added.
Human Rights Advocate Catherine Muma said the proposed law does not meet the constitutional threshold.
“The amendment will offend Article 2 which defends the supremacy of the Constitution,” she said.
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