Kenya: post-election criminal trials
The lawyers – who represent victims of Kenya’s post-election violence – found their views sharply clashing with the opinion of the trial judges.
Standard Digital news reports that the representatives are opposed to having a common legal representative practising in Kenya as well as victims’ participation via a video link.
Victims’ representative Sureta Chana claimed legal representatives in Kenya may be influenced. She explained: ‘There is a question on the ability of the common legal representative if he or she is based in Kenya. Given that external pressures would be brought to him or her, and his or her practice in Kenya could potentially be threatened by those with influence.’
Ms Chana added that having some victims participate in person, while others appear through a video-link, would create groups among the victims.
The cases involve Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, MP William Ruto, journalist Jushua arap Sang and former head of the civil service, Francis Muthaura.
Elsewhere in Africa, leading legal professionals in Nigeria have warned that existing local defamation laws are unable to cope with developments in media technology, according to local press reports.
According to the Nigerian Guardian newspaper, a key concern is the impact of the internet, which was not considered when the laws were first passed. Professor Eunice Uzodike explained said: ‘Our defamation laws obviously are not fashioned to deal with the fall out of the new technology and require to be updated.’
Taiwo Osipitan, a University of Lagos law professor and senior advocate, added that service providers without control of web content are not explicitly protected under the Nigerian legislative framework. ‘There is an urgent need for legislative intervention in this area of the law,’ he advised.