People with mental disabilities ALSO have the right to marry in Kenya

william_asekaAuthor: William Aseka
Human Rights Fellow at Burton Blatt Institute, Syracuse University

The Marriage Bill (now Act) 2014 has elicited different reactions from Kenyans. Some mostly women, have argued that the law will allow men to engage in polygamous marriages. Some have hailed the law as consolidating the different types of marriages into one piece of legislation. However, the people with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities have completely been left out of this debate. The law clearly discriminates and expressly denies people with mental disorders from exercising their right to marry. Section 11(2)(b) of the Marriage Act 2014 provides:-

Consent is not freely given where the party who purports to give it is suffering from any mental disorder or mental disability whether permanent or temporary…

The Act further provides in section 73 that if one suffers from ‘recurrent bouts of insanity’ then the partner is allowed to have the marriage annulled. This essay seeks to argue that the Marriage Act 2014 not only violates Kenya’s obligation under international law but also violates the Constitution of Kenya 2010 Article 27(4), which proscribes discrimination based on disability.

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The African Union Commission on International Law and the Proposed African Institute of International Law: Where do we go from here?

Olabisi AkinkugbeAuthor: Olabisi Delebayo Akinkugbe
PhD candidate at the University of Ottawa, Canada

The author critically reflects on the African Union Commission on International Law (AUCIL) statute of 2009 particularly in relation to its mandate to advance the teaching and development of international law in Africa; examines its relationship with proposed African Union Institute of International Law (AIIL) in Arusha, Tanzania; and calls for an amendment of the AUCIL Statute in order to enhance the achievement of its goals and clarification of some vague areas.

Historically, the discourse in relation to the role of Africa in the development of international law, especially as a contributor or shaper, can be argued was popularised by the works of the late Taslim Olawale Elias who has been criticised in turn by some scholars for his glorification of Africa. The view that Africa contributes and shapes the development of international law arguably inspires the provisions of Article 6(1) of the AUCIL Statute (Codification of International Law) which mandates the AUCIL to codify such aspects of the rules of international law where “there has been extensive State practice, precedent and doctrine in the African continent.” Following suggestions by African international law scholars such as Muna Ndulo for curriculum revisions to include directed teaching on various subjects in relation to Africa and international law, it is encouraging to see that the African Union (AU) has taken a practical step in broaching the question of partnership in the teaching and studying of international law as it concerns the AU with universities and international institutes in Africa under the auspices of the AUCIL. It is hoped that the current effort which has witnessed a worrisome delay in taking off after three years of the adoption of the AUCIL establishing statute is more than a mere rhetoric.

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