LSK wants court to extend curfew start time to 10pm

Tuesday, March 31st, 2020 00:00 |
Nairobi residents queue to board public transport vehicles on Latema Road in the city centre, yesterday, to beat the 7pm curfew deadline. Photo/PD/GERALD ITHANA

The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) has petitioned the High Court to adjust the start time of the countrywide dusk-to-dawn curfew to 10pm. 

Through lawyers Omwanza Omwati and Wakesho Kililo, LSK wants the court to issue a conservatory order extending the time the curfew starts by three hours.

The curfew order, aimed at reducing movement and hence the spread of coronavirus, came in to effect last Friday.

According to the court papers, LSK also wants the court to compel Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai to publish in the newspapers and file in court security guidelines on the conduct of police officers enforcing the curfew order within 24 hours.

The society further wants the Inspector General prohibited from using unreasonable force in enforcing the curfew order and holding him personally liable for unreasonable use of force in enforcement of the curfew  against members of the public.

Audio proceedings

LSK also wants police barred from interfering with media on the coverage of the curfew and including the justice system and legal representation in the list of essential service providers.

The body is seeking that Chief Justice David Maraga appoint judges and magistrates to hear urgent matters.

“Pending hearing and determination of the application and petition, the Chief Justice be ordered to issue practice directions and issue directions that proceedings are to be conducted wholly as video or audio proceedings and where it is not practicable for the hearing to be broadcast in a court building, the court may direct that the hearing take place in private where is necessary to do so to secure the proper administration of justice,” says LSK in its court papers.

LSK further seeks that Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe exercise his powers under section 36 of the Public Health Act and all relevant legislation and issue proper guidelines for the curfew, quarantine or containment of Covid-19  patients.

Monitor movement

The lawyers’ umbrella body moved to court  to challenge the curfew that took effect on March 27 saying it was abused by the police as they launched a campaign of terror and violence against members of the public.

“The police violently assaulted vulnerable persons like pregnant women, the sick and elderly.

They also bludgeon providers of exempted essential services such as watchmen, supermarket workers, food trucks drivers and medical personnel on their way to work or from work,” says LSK.

The body further argues that police also recklessly kept large crowds on the ground contrary to WHO advice on social distancing.

LSK also accused the police of stopping the media from monitoring their movement and assaulted journalists covering the curfew process. 

“Many Kenyans live from hand to mouth and have to work until 5pm to 6pm. Kenya does not have an essential public transport system and it is impracticable.

This is exacerbated by the recent reduction in passenger numbers. It is therefore impracticable for these Kenyan to shop for essential goods, find transport and get home by 7pm,” says LSK.

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