Kenya: Religious Leaders Threaten to Reject Draft If Not Revised

Nairobi, Kenya - Church leaders in Kenya have reaffirmed their position on abortion, insisting that if the constitution shall contain any reference to Kadhi's Courts, they shall reject the draft in total.

The church leaders represented Anglican Church of Kenya; Christ is the Answer Ministries, Evangelical Alliance of Kenya, Federation of Evangelical and Indigenous Christian Churches of Kenya, Kenya Assemblies of God, Kenya Episcopal Conference, Methodist Church in Kenya, National Council of Churches of Kenya, Presbyterian Church of East Africa and United Christian Churches of Kenya.

The leaders said that they had discussed the progress made so far and recommended changes for consideration by the National Assembly as they debate the proposed new Constitution.

The leaders emphasized that life begins at conception and any contrary position in the draft should be amended before being subjected to a referendum.

In a press statement, the leaders proposed that Article 25 on the right to life be revised to read: "Every person has the right to life. The life of a person begins at conception and ends at natural death, abortion is not permitted; however, expectant mothers shall be entitled to medical treatment in life threatening situations. There shall be no capital punishment and there shall be no euthanasia."

They also proposed that Article 32 (5) read as follows: "Everyone has a right to propagate their religion or convert from one religion to another" and "clause (5) of the same to read (6) Clause (3) shall not apply to institutions and facilitates that are established solely or partly for religious purposes."

On Judiciary Article 169 (b) provides that subordinate courts include Kadhi's Courts. They said that this is unacceptable; adding that if the proposed Constitution shall contain any reference to Kadhi's Courts, "we shall reject the draft in total."

Therefore, to avoid another rejection of the draft constitution at the referendum, they proposed that Art 169 (b) be deleted.

"Providing for Kadhi's Courts alone in a multi-religious society is a recipe for chaos, is repugnant to justice. In the interest of justice for all Kenyans and in consideration of the need for Kenya to get a new constitution, the Church extends an olive branch with regard to the Kadhi's Court," the leaders said.

They proposed that a new Article 160 (3) and (4) be inserted to read as follows: "The constitution shall recognize the jurisdiction of religious courts in matters relating to personal status, marriage, divorce and inheritance where all parties subscribe to the same religion and agree to submit to the jurisdiction of such courts. No state resources shall be used for the establishment or the operation of any religious courts."