Tuesday, February 3, 2015

CHURCH CALLS FOR SAFEGUARDING OF CIVIL SOCIETIES IN KENYA


TWS|Nick Waigwa

The Catholic Church in Kenya has urged the country’s government to safeguard the role of Civil Society Organizations.
 
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In a joint position paper to a task force formed by the Devolution and Planning Cabinet Secretary , Ann Waiguru to receive public views on the proposed amendments to  the Public Benefits Organizations Act 2013,  CARITAS Kenya and Catholic Justice & Peace Commission note that CSOs serve a vital role in Kenya’s social and economic development.

 “CSOs support Kenyan advancement and prosperity in a wide range of sectors, including governance, human rights, security, health care, agriculture, natural resource management, education, economic growth and women advancement among others” reads the statement

The Church in the position statement which is signed by Most Rev. Zacchaeus Okoth, Chairman of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission calls for open and transparent dialogue with Civil Society organizations, pointing out that the government must safeguard Civil Society’s role to ensure that Kenyans exercise their right to participate in governance and management of public affairs through their citizens groups.

At the same time the Church has recommended to the government to reconsiders its stand with regard to the Public Benefits Organizations and relook at the proposed amendments to the PBO Act 2013.

According the Catholic Church the proposed removal of a “certificate of registration” and its replacement with “entry into the register” as the conclusive evidence of registration of a PBO is likely to be abused and limit fundamental rights and limit some sectors in society.

The church is of the opinion that the proposed removal of section 4 (1) on governments obligation to provide an enabling environment for non-state actors and consult PBOs on public policy is bad faith and negates the constitutional principle of public policy.

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They are warning that if passed in their present status the amendments might also greatly jeopardize the objectives of the PBO Act among them the meaningful protection of the freedoms of association, expression and assembly, which would enable individuals and groups to freely pursue their goals.

The amendments could also put at risk the facilitation of principled and constructive collaboration between the Government and Civil Society to address the “numerous complex challenges facing society today” 

CARITAS Kenya is mandated by the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops to implement development and social services in Kenya and the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission’s mandate is to promote peace and Justice in Kenya.
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