Kenya seeks to admit Rwanda, Burundian lawyers
The Kenyan parliament has revived its push to allow advocates from Rwanda and Burundi work in Kenya, just like their counterparts from Tanzania and Uganda.
The Advocates (Amendment Bill, 2023 seeks to allow the citizens of Burundi and Rwanda to be eligible for admission as an advocate in Kenya.
“The objective of this Bill is to amend the Advocates Act, Cap 16 to allow the citizens of Burundi and Rwanda to be eligible for admission as an advocate the high court of Kenya subject to them having the relevant professional and academic qualifications,” reads the Bill.
The Bill says that the fact that the two countries are members of the East African Community, they should be accorded equal treatment as Ugandans and Tanzanians.
This is the third time the Kenyan Parliament is pushing for the amendment of the Bill to allow the advocates from the two countries practice in Kenya.
Read:Bill to allow Rwanda, Burundi lawyers work in Kenya stalls
The Bill elapsed in the 12th parliament and was therefore not conclusively considered by the House.
The parliament proposed amendments to the Advocates Act, saying lawyers from the two countries qualify for similar treatment as their counterparts from Uganda and Tanzania in the spirit of the East African Community.
Rwandan and Burundian advocates were in 2019 locked out from practising locally, which MPs said contravenes the spirit of the EAC.
The amendments, if approved, will change Section 12 of the Advocates Act, which currently only allows Ugandan and Tanzanian lawyers to practice in Kenya.
“Subject to this Act, no person shall be admitted as an advocate unless he is a citizen of Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda or Tanzania, he is duly qualified in accordance with section 13,” reads the proposed legislation.
Section 13 of the advocates Act states that a person shall be duly qualified to be admitted as an advocate having passed the relevant examinations of any recognized university in Kenya, hold or has become eligible for the conferment of a degree in law of that university.
In addition, the section also requires the person to have passed relevant examinations in the university of college approved by the Council of Legal education.
Parliament first opened the doors for lawyers from Rwanda and Burundi to practice in Kenya through the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendment Act 2012, amended Section 12 and 13 of the Advocates Act but the Court of Appeal struck out the changes.
The Law Society of Kenya had opposed MPs’ move and sued the Attorney-General, arguing the amendment that opened up trade in legal services for non-Kenyans without reciprocal access for Kenyan advocates was a violation of Parliament’s legislative powers.
Read:Kenya criticised for blocking Rwanda, Burundi lawyers
The East Africa Community Common Market Protocol advocates for free movement of goods, services and labour but its implementation has been hindered by lack of local laws that are aligned with it.