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Coronavirus in Kenya: LSK pushes for contingency plan

Tuesday March 24 2020
Havi

Law Society of Kenya President Nelson Havi during an interview at the society's offices in Nairobi County on March 2, 2020. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By MAUREEN KAKAH

The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) wants the case it filed on Kenya's coronavirus preparedness fast-tracked and heard on a priority basis.

The request comes just after the National Commission on Administrative Justice (NCAJ) laid out measures the Judiciary will take to prevent spread of the deadly Covid-19.

Chief Justice David Maraga made the announcement on Sunday shortly before President Uhuru Kenyatta announced that the number of confirmed cases in Kenya had risen to three.

HUGE RISK

While acknowledging measures the government has taken since the first case was reported, the LSK said the State is yet to file its contingency plan in court as ordered.

The society told the High Court that without the plan, the health of the whole population will continue to be at risk and the case will be rendered useless.

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“We request, therefore, to appear before the duty judge or indeed any judge of the High Court to canvass the urgency and necessity of tomorrow’s (Tuesday's) mention of this matter,” lawyer Dudley Ochiel, for the LSK, said in a letter to the deputy registrar of the Constitutional and Human Rights Division

PANDEMIC

The LSK pointed out in the letter that Covid-19 is a global health pandemic.

It also noted the fact that the court issued an order on February 28 compelling the State to prepare and present a plan on prevention, surveillance, control and response systems for scrutiny.

Twice the court has urged the government to table the detailed report with the said plan and faulted it for failing to comply fully with its directive.

The court has also faulted the State for failing to comply with the order on quarantining the 239 passengers who jetted into the country via a China Southern Airlines flight on February 26, at Kenya Defence Forces facilities.

But the State, in its filed responses, says it has heightened surveillance at all points of entry, health facilities and communities countrywide.

On Sunday, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced drastic measures to prevent an outbreak in the country.

THE MEASURES

Among measures the NCAJ announced on Sunday included immediate suspension of hearings and mentions of civil, criminal and appeal matters.

This is the reason the LSK requested that the matter be heard on a priority basis.

Chief Justice David Maraga announced a scaling down of Judiciary activities in the wake of confirmation of Kenya's first case of the virus.

The CJ indicated that court activities will be reduced for two weeks effective Monday to allow further consultations on the matter and the design of appropriate response measures.

He said prisoners and remandees will not be presented to court for the two weeks and that execution of court proceedings also remains suspended for the next two weeks.

However, he pointed out that courts will continue to handle very urgent cases as well as have pleas taken in serious matters and that the directions issued would be reviewed from time to time as the need arises.

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