Human rights party makes fact-finding trip to Kenya

A delegation of three solicitors representing the Law Society's international human rights working party has returned from a six-day mission to Kenya in support of the country's law society.

The visit was prompted following a request by the Law Society of Kenya for assistance in the face of a “great attack” against the “independence of the Kenya Bar” by the Kenyan government.

It claimed that the human rights of solicitors were being abused and some were being detained without trial.

The society is currently fighting a case, which was brought against it by a “pro-government lawyer”, accusing it of behaving like a quasi- political party.

Gerald Shamash, a member of the Law Society's Kenyan delegation, stressed that the trip was “an open-minded fact-finding mission” to learn more about the situation in the African state.

“It is apparent that the Law Society has behaved as a quasi-political party, but there are understandable reasons for this.

“The elections are scheduled for 1998, so it is a very politicised time,” he said.

Shamash added: “The visit was a great success. We met with the Attorney General, and formulated policy proposals while on the ground which were well received by all sides.”

Fellow Law Society delegate Andy Unger said a detailed report would be ready by April, although it would be subject to approval by the human rights working party and the international branch of the Law Society.