The Kenyan experience over the last decade has been one of emancipation and re-discovery. The clamour for the re-introduction of multi-party democracy led to the repeal of section 2A of the Kenyan constitution that saw the abolition of a single-party state. This success ignited in Kenyans a passion and a desire to see what is wrong with our laws and change them.
The process has not been easy. From the days of the infamous Torture Chambers and detention, many paid the price so that we can now have the freedom to express our views and agitate for change that we need. This process, however, has given rise to a new phenomenon. Interest groups have made it a priority to lobby and campaign amongst legislators to see the introduction of numerous bills. More laws have been passed in the 8th and 9th parliament. Some of these laws have been beneficial for Kenya, but a few have created space for new experiences.
The church in Kenya has been largely silent on many of these issues and would only react after a bill was published or a law was passed. This all changed in the year 2002. The Rainbow Coalition brought in a new breed of leaders, with ideas cultivated in the boardrooms of many international NGOs. They rode on the general discontent over the abuses and excesses of the Moi Regime. After removing President Moi from power, they had the people's support and attention. There began a clamour for a new constitution.
The Christian response to all that is happening has been ad hoc and reactionary. This has seen several laws passed that eroded the value system that we have known and held dear. The East Africa Centre for Law & Justice (EACLJ) is the response to this trend. The EACLJ aims to develop a Centre that will be credible and trustworthy in its information. This information will be used to inform the general public on issues of national importance being churned out of our parliament. It shall also be useful in lobbying legislators when debating and enacting laws. The Centre also aims to be a haven for those who find themselves in conflict with the law, especially over the exercise of their faith.
One source of law is judicial precedent. The EACLJ hopes that any suit that has the potential to change the constitutional dispensation of Kenya will have its input. This will ensure that the laws that come from both the legislature and the judiciary are for Kenya's benefit.
The EACLJ will also work hard to keep any issues that are not prominently covered in mainstream media, but are of importance to Kenyans, made known. This will be accomplished by doing radio and TV shows, as well as by having periodic publications that will be informative. Training classes and seminars will also be conducted throughout Kenya so that not only the city dwellers are informed, but all Kenyans.
The bigger vision is for the EACLJ to also help the countries in the East African region with information and research that will enable their development. With the strengthening and expansion of the East African Community, by the inclusion of Burundi and Rwanda in the Community, the opportunities for development are endless.
This is only the beginning. The EACLJ will be a centre that will change the landscape of legislation for all Kenyans and eventually all of East Africas citizens.
Executive Director, East Africa Centre for Law & Justice
Bishop Mark Kariuki
Deliverance Church Kenya