The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) has filed a suit demanding that the Ministry of Health supply vulnerable groups including street families with free masks in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus.
In a fresh suit filed at the High Court against the State, LSK is also challenging the publication of curfew rules published in newspapers as Public Health (Covid 19) Restriction of Movement of Persons and Related Measures Rules 2020.
According to the lawyers’ body, the said regulations were published without being tabled in Parliament, hence some sections of it need to be suspended from being implemented as is.
“Without the timely intervention of this court and the grant of injunctive relief, the case will be rendered nugatory to the detriment of the public as persons perceived to be in contravention of the impugned regulations, will be arrested, prosecuted and convicted while this matter is pending in court,” said lawyers from the firm of Nchogu, Omwanza & Nyasimi Advocates.
LSK has specifically sued Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe and the Attorney General while the Kenya National Commission for Human Rights and the Speaker of the National Assembly are listed as interested parties.
On April 6, the sued parties gazetted the new regulations in question.
It is on this date that President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered the cessation of movement in and out of Nairobi, Mombasa and Kwale counties.
LSK argued that although these rules were published on the said date, they were not taken before the National Assembly within the required seven days as per the law or preceded by subjection to public participation.
The lawyers’ lobby claims that there is no copy of the gazette notice on the Kenya Law Reports website, hence faulting the CS for acting in breach of rules requiring easy accessibility of a regulation or laws to the general public.
LSK also claimed that considering that movement of persons has been restricted by the curfew order and the one barring getting out of infected counties, the question on provision of masks to vulnerable groups is very urgent.
LSK alleged that imposition of a mandatory requirement to everyone to wear masks, including those who cannot afford them, is discriminatory.
They have protested against the rule requiring that those travelling must also have masks on without excluding lone drivers as unlawful and irrational.
In the filed case documents, LSK also alleged that the rules caused many Kenyans to be stranded as they could not go back to their homes or bury their loved ones, citing the case of former Kenya Ports Authority employee James Oyugi.
They also allege that the public was not given adequate time to ensure they would not find themselves in contravention with the law in cases where they were away from home.
Justice James Makau certified the case as urgent and directed that the matter be mentioned on April 23 for further directions.
The State was asked to respond to the case by then.