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Director's Visit to Kenya - 9 June 2014

From 9-11 June Jeffrey Jowell attended a conference in Nariobi directed by the respected Kenyan constitutional lawyer, Professor Yash Pal Ghai on the subject of Interpreting and Shaping a Transformative Constitution. The conference was organised by the Katiba Institute ( under the direction of the respected constitutional lawyer, Professor Yash Pal Ghai), as well as the British Institute for East Africa, the Kenyan Judicial Training Institute and the Kenya Human Rights Commission.

The purpose of the conference was to assist the legal community in Kenya to reflect on what is involved in the interpretation of their new constitution, which was promulgated on 27 August 2010, and is often referred to as a 'radical' or 'transformative' constitution. Like the South African constitution of 1996, the Kenyan Constitution adopts a number of general principles and values, broadly stated. One aim is to break with the past and seek national unity and political integration, while respecting diversity. Another is to seek integrity and lack of corruption. A third is participation of the people and a culture of human rights and respect for the rule of law. Given the incorporation of social and economic rights into the Kenyan constitution, a recurring theme was the role of judges in these matters.

The speakers included Professor MP Singh from India, former Justice Albie Sachs from South Africa, former Justice Syed Bokhary from Hong Kong, Professor Kent Roach and Justice Robert Sharpe from Canada, and Mr Joseph Warioba, the former Prime Minister of Tanzania who is now chairing their constitutional reform commission. The new Chief Justice of Kenya, Willy Matunga also spoke, as did some young researchers from East Africa.

The conference ended with a public lecture by Jeffrey Jowell on the subject: Creative Tension? Administrative Justice vs. Freedom to Govern in the United Kingdom.

The Bingham Centre is in discussions about continuing involvement on rule of law issues in Kenya.

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