Law Links - May 2015

Kenya’s highest court cites Mutua in ruling


The influence of UB School of Law faculty continues to be felt worldwide.

Most recently, the High Court of Kenya – the African nation’s equivalent of the U.S. Supreme Court – cited an article by Professor and former Dean Makau W. Mutua. The court ruled that Kenya had violated the rights of homosexual persons by refusing to allow government registration for a non-governmental organization dedicated to protecting LGBT persons from violence and human rights abuses.

In its April 30 decision, the seven-member court ruled that Kenya had failed “to accord just and fair treatment to gay and lesbian persons living in Kenya seeking registration of an association of their choice.”

It cited a 2009 article that Mutua, a native of Kenya, had published in the Sunday Nation newspaper, and quoted his words: “Constitutions are not meant to protect only individuals that we like, and to leave unprotected those who are unpopular, or those the majority may find morally objectionable. A person’s identity – especially if it exposes them to ridicule, attack, or discrimination – must be the reason for constitutional protection. Constitutions protect individuals from tyranny of the state and oppression from their fellow human beings.”

In addition, Mutua will be in Rome through September after having been appointed scholar-in-residence/senior adviser at the International Development Law Organization.

IDLO is an international multilateral agency that focuses on the rule of law and development. Its members are governments. Mutua’s main role is to organize a major conference on the rule of law and development in Africa, to be held at year’s end.

“There hasn’t been a major conference on the subject in Africa for decades,” he says, “and so this is expected to be a milestone and a major undertaking involving governments (Africa, Europe, Americas and Asia), leading academics, policy-makers, civil society and practitioners. We expect a book to come out of the conference.” 

Sponsors of the conference will include major international agencies, governments and leading global personalities. Says Mutua: “I am very excited by the opportunity to advance my scholarship and work on human rights and the relationship between the state and the citizen in this initiative.”