The Senate Ad hoc Committee on the Proliferation of Religious Organisations will starting today hold a public forum to get views of members of the public on its mandate.
The session in Nairobi targets members of the public who were unable to attend meetings of the committee which is also investigating the Shakahola killings involving controversial pastor Paul Mackenzie.
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During the sessions, members of the public are expected to submit their views on the issue of registration and regulation of religious institutions. The committee is expected to table its report to the House by July 26, 2023.
The 11-member committee, which is chaired by Tana River Senator Danson Mungatana, has already visited Shakahola Forest in Kilifi County, the scene of the macabre killings, and Vihiga County, which was a key catchment area for Goodnews International Church of Paul Mackenzie.
It has also held sessions with the Attorney-General Justin Muturi, the registrar of Societies, twice hosted the Interior cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki as well as religious leaders in Nairobi, Kilifi and Vihiga.
The team has also met with civil society groups in Nairobi, Kilifi and Vihiga and Chakama Ranching Company, the alleged owners of the land on which Shakahola Forest stands.
It has also held sessions with officials of the Communication Authority of Kenya (CA), the Official receiver of the Chakama Ranching Company which is in liquidation, the former members of Nyumba Kumi committee, the Kenya National Human Rights Commission (KNCHR) and scholars on religious matters.
The Thursday meeting is set to allow the public to offer their views on the mandate of the committee as well as submit memoranda on the issue.
This is in line with Article 118(1) (b) of the Constitution which provides that “Parliament shall facilitate public participation and involvement in the legislative and other businesses of Parliament and its Committees’’.
It is also in concurrence with the Senate’s Standing Order 145 (5) which provides that “A committee to which a Bill is committed shall facilitate public participation and shall take into account the views and recommendations of the public when the committee makes its report to the Senate”.
Besides investigating the Shakahola killings, the committee’s other mandate is to investigate the role played by Paul Mackenzie of the Good News International Church, his pastoral team and the Kilifi County Security committee in aiding and abetting the deaths of the followers of the Good News International Church.
It is also expected to develop a legislative proposal on regulation of religious activities in the country and make any other recommendation that will prevent religious organizations from extreme indoctrination of their followers including radicalization, spiritual and financial exploitation.