In a decision arrived at earlier this month, a Kenyan high court ruled that a 2015 Kenya government decision to stop admitting students from the region to enrol on the school’s Advocates Training Programme, a one-year diploma programme, was discriminatory and against Kenya’s constitution.
Through the Council of Legal Education, in 2015 the government stopped students from 10 regional countries – including Uganda, Zambia, Botswana and Rwanda – from enrolling at the law school on grounds that they failed to return home after studies, opting to practice law in the country. The decision was announced in 2016.
“A decision which violates the Constitution [of Kenya, 2010] is null and void”
This elicited protests from the legal fraternity in the region, with the Uganda Law Society president Francis Gimara noting that the directive went against the region’s spirit of a liberalised legal system.
“Kenya took the lead and autonomously amended its Advocate Act to recognise and permit advocates from the region to practice law in Kenya, an act that was progressive and demonstrated good faith,” noted the president.
Hundreds of students from Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Rwanda and Burundi moved to court late 2016 to have the decision reversed, resulting in the latest victory.
“A decision which violates the Constitution [of Kenya, 2010] is null and void, it offends the petitioners’ constitutionally guaranteed rights,” stated the court in quashing the decision.
The ruling means that at least 300 foreigners enrolled at the school who were stopped from completing their studies in 2016, including 75 from Uganda, can now continue their training.
The Kenya School of Law offers diplomas in law studies under its Advocates Training Programme based on the commonwealth legal training model. It is the most popular law school in the region, preferred by students from more than 10 west African countries and trains over 1,000 students each year.