Gilgil MP Martha Wangari has initiated a legislative process to empower the National Assembly to take up a more prominent role in processes preceding Treaty ratifications.
The proposal called The Treaty Making and Ratification (Amendment) Bill, 2023 is before the Departmental Committee on Defence, Intelligence and Foreign Affairs chaired by Belgut MP Nelson Koech for pre-publication scrutiny.
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Through the proposal, Wangari seeks to amend the Treaty Making and Ratification Act, 2012, to enable the National Assembly to consider and propose amendments to treaties before their ratification.
Wangari argues that although the current Act empowers the National Assembly to participate in consideration and approval of treaty ratification, the role of Parliament in the process only comes into play after Cabinet approval.
“Treaty-making and ratification to a large extent has an impact on the livelihood of the citizens of a country. It is therefore important to ensure that Parliament is consulted during the initial stages of treaty negotiation and singing,” said Wangari.
During scrutiny of the legislative proposal, Committee members noted recent incidents where the National Assembly had approved some Treaties with reservations which could however, not be actioned due to lack of proper legal framework.
One recent incident noted by members was in passage of the Kenya-UK Defence Cooperation Agreement, when the National Assembly adopted the Committee reservations, that included a proposal that prosecution of British Soldiers for the offence of murder on Kenyan soil be fully under the jurisdiction of the local authorities.
Wangari’s recommendations in the legislative proposal that the National Assembly should have powers to approve a treaty, approve with reservations or reject a Treaty in entirety.