The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) vice president Carolyne Kamende Daudi has declared interest in succeeding her ousted boss Nelson Havi.
Ms Kamende, a leading specialist in Family Law, Constitutional and Criminal Law, Corporate and Commercial Law and Arbitration and Alternative Dispute Resolution with 16 years of experience as an advocate of the High Court, reveals what ails the 18,000 member society and why she is the most qualified to become the next LSK president.
Why are you running for the LSK presidency?
I want to improve the welfare of LSK members through accountability and transparency. Since my election as LSK vice-president, I have discharged my duties well and now it is time to take charge of the body. I have proved that I have what it takes to steer the society to the next level.
If elected as the next LSK president, what would be your immediate task?
My first mission will be to bring cohesiveness. Now, members are divided and that does not augur well for our society. I will also pursue the mandate given to the office of the presidency under section 4 of the LSK Act which includes rule of law, constitutionalism and accountability. I will also ensure the checks and balances in the pursuit of administration of justice and rule of law.
You're on the verge of being elected as the second woman president of LSK, is this part of your leadership dreams as a lawyer?
There is a strong wave blowing across the country that is ushering women into top leadership like the recent elevation of Justice Martha Koome as the first-ever female Chief Justice. CJ Koome has broken the ceiling and gender notwithstanding, LSK members will make an informed decision and elect a visionary president. The choice of the next president is about good leadership. I have been leading the lawyers since 2018. I'm also the chairperson of the African Bar Association (AFBA)-Kenya Forum, a professional body of lawyers and national legal associations in Africa. I have also worked as a legal Assistant at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda for a year where I conducted legal research and assisted duty counsel in case preparation. This ensured I gained exposure in International Criminal Law. With these strong credentials, I believe I'm the best bet to take LSK to greater heights. I have been tested and my capabilities are top-notch.
How do you plan to improve the welfare of lawyers in Kenya?
As LSK vice president, I started an initiative under the welfare and medical-legal committee and we established an endowment fund. Through the Advocate Benevolent Fund, LSK received Sh500,000. The fast-tracking of these funds was disrupted when the society went under due to wrangles. If elected, I will implement it so that we can have a kitty where members in distress can get assistance and reduce cases of funds raising.
What other personal achievements have you accomplished during your tenure as LSK vice-president?
During my tenure, I convened the lawyer-police committee which improved the relationship between the players. The committee came up with hotline numbers for all eight branches in Kenya and the headquarters. I had talks with multi-sectoral players like the Attorney-General, Inspector General of Police, Directorate of Criminal Investigation who gave us cubicles at the police stations to our members to exercise the client-advocate confidentiality talks. I also initiated the care package for newly admitted advocates at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic which was rolled out across the country.
What are your achievements and contributions in LSK?
We did a lot of work in the public interest litigation. I was part of the council that filed cases against the government during the Covid-19 pandemic containment measures that violated human rights. The council outsourced a lawyer that filed a case that saw lawyers classified as essential services providers during the curfew. We also pushed for the dissolution of Parliament on the two-third gender rule among other public interest cases. We also protected the independence of the Judiciary and accountability where we could. I co-chaired the LSK Gender Committee which formulated the LSK Sexual Harassment and Anti-Bullying Policies.
What game plan do you have for a growing army of young lawyers?
I have mentored many young lawyers. I established the endowment fund with young lawyers in mind. The fund is also tailored towards assisting young and upcoming lawyers.
As the vice-president you watched LSK sink under chaotic leadership by the day. Why?
The LSK council members were split by the issue of an audit. Some members did not want an audit to be conducted. I stood on the right side of the history of accountability, transparency and integrity. Those who didn't stand for accountability wanted the world to know that LSK leadership was failing.
How would you rate the ousted LSK president Nelson Havi?
I will give credit where it is due. It is during Mr Havi's tenure that the rule of law and constitutionalism and administration of justice was seen to be working. The government was not allowed to do anything contrary to the law. It was during Mr Havi's presidency that LSK stood firm against any violation or implementation of illegal policies. Mr Havi will go down as a president who did very well on the rule of law. The objective of the LSK Act is to ensure good laws are made. We must protect the public and assist the courts in the administration of justice.
If elected LSK president, what are you going to do differently from your predecessor?
I will not do anything differently but I will continue to promote the rule of law. I will form a good Public Interest Litigation committee. As LSK president, I will be on my toes on legislation policies from the Executive or Parliament. If the council under my leadership feels the judiciary does not comply with the law, we shall challenge it in court. I will ensure LSK regains its lost glory and maintains its voice on matters of law and legislation policies. Under my presidency I want the LSK to bounce back to that prestigious role.
Some argue that LSK as a key entity, the one two-year term is not enough to bring changes in the society. Do you agree with this line of argument?
We have 13 members in the LSK council. It is not short term. Two years are enough for a united council to make an impact. It depends on how serious the 13 council members are in the execution of their obligations. You can have one day in office and do something impactful to the public. The council needs selfless leaders who are there to serve members and the public. We have 18,000 lawyers in Kenya who are equally capable to serve society and it would be selfish to cling to power for more than two years.