Kenya embraces Law Society mission

The Law Society is hailing a recent human rights mission to Kenya as a major success, after the Kenyan Gov ernment accepted its recommendation for a workshop to discuss the much-maligned Kenyan justice system.

A delegation from the Law Society's international human rights working party made the recommendation after visiting the country earlier this year.

The Law Society of Kenya requested the visit in an effort to highlight what it called the Kenyan Government's “attack” against the “independence of the Kenya Bar”.

In a letter sent this month to delegation member Gerald Shamash, Kenyan attorney general Amos Wako said that the workshop would include judges, lawyers, government officials and jurists.

Shamash, a member of the Law Society's international committee, said: “Given the powderkeg situation in Kenya we are chuffed the authorities took our recommendation on board. Often you go on these trips and nothing happens. This is good news.”

International Bar Association (IBA) president Desmond Fernando said his organisation was also taking a keen interest in the predicament of lawyers in Kenya, and that he “strongly supported” the workshop idea. “An IBA delegation led by Sir William Goodhart QC visited Kenya last year and its report also called for either national or regional workshops. We will offer whatever encouragement is necessary to make this work,” he said.

Meanwhile, the IBA has appointed former New South Wales Supreme Court judge Thomas Waddell as its observer at the Malaysian libel trial of the UN representative, Dato Param Cumaraswamy, who wrote a maga zine article questioning the independence of the Malaysian judiciary.