The Miscellaneous Amendments Act 2012
This is an Act of Parliament that was passed to make minor amendments to statute law. The passage of this Act, serves to underscore the government's commitment to watch out for any lacuna in the law that might serve to impede effective governance and thus undermine the implementation of the Constitution.
The President assented to the Statute Law on the 6th of July 2012.
Earlier on, there were a number of very controversial amendments that had been introduced. These amendments included the amendment of the Political Parties Act 2011, the Elections Act 2011 and the Vetting of Judges and Magistrates Act 2011. These amendments had the effect of negating the very constitutional principles upon which they were enacted. Many were therefore strongly opposed to the amendments. This is because the current parliament is on its last days before the General Elections thus the amendments were being made with a measure of bias and self interest.
The President however assented to the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act after Parliament deleted clauses that sought to legitimize party hopping and a mandatory degree for Member of Parliament.
Parliament also deleted clauses of the Election Act, which raised the minimum qualification to hold political office to the level of university education.
The Act also contains a raft of other significant developments. Some of the changes that come with the Act include;
- Amendment of the provisions of the Elections Act, thereby enabling the Speaker of the National Assembly to issue writs for the pending by-elections in Ndiwa, Kajiado North and Kangema Constituencies; which he did and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has already announced the 17th of September as the by-election date for the constituencies.
- Amendment of the Vetting of Judges and Magistrates Act, 2011, has extended the term of the Board to 28th February 2013 so as to facilitate the vetting of Judges of the High court and review of the cases lodged by the court of Appeal judges which had stalled;
- By amending the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Act No. 8 of 2008, the Act has extended the tenure of the TJRC to allow it prepare its report and wind up its activities as contemplated by law;
- By amending the National Cohesion and Integration Commission Act No. 12 of 2008, the Act has permitted the reappointment of members of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission for another term;
- Amendment of the various provisions of criminal justice laws previously conferred upon the Attorney General, the same has been conferred to the Director of Public Prosecutions;
- By amending the Sexual Offences Act No. 3 of 2006 the Act protects the victims of sexual offences and gives them a measure of protection when reporting sexual abuse ;
- By amending the National Crime Research Centre Act No. 4 of 1997 so as to bolster membership of the Governing Council of the Centre by incorporating the representations from Treasury and office of Director of the Public Prosecutions respectively;
- By amending the Environment and Land Court Act No. 19 of 2011 the Act has enhanced the capacity of the court as a specialized division of the High Court set up to expeditiously determine land and environment cases;
- By amending the Civil Procedure Act Cap 21 the Mediation Accreditation Committee is established which seeks to promote Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) as an alternative form of justice dispensation.
The controversies that accompanied this omnibus bill, is a clear indication of why Kenyans should pay closer attention when new laws are being made. The parliamentarians were going to sneak in laws that were motivated by their own selfish interests and had it not been for the public outcry that followed, they probably would have succeeded. The need for extra vigilance cannot be over emphasized.