Kenya

Just 34, but he has already spent over half his life in a Kenyan jail

The case of Thomas Odede, arrested for murder aged just 12, illustrates how easy it is for children to be forgotten once they land in jail. Following his conviction he was detained in prison ‘at the President’s pleasure’. But after 19 years he asked the courts for help, claiming such an open-ended ‘sentence’ was unconstitutional.

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This is the kind of judgment that makes a reader feel slightly ill. It is short and to the point, but discloses a sad state of affairs.

Sudan: does it care a damn?

The highest court in the United States has just heard argument in a case that could have far-reaching implications for Sudan and perhaps for other countries said to be sponsoring terrorism. It concerns amendments to a key piece of US legislation and whether these amendments could apply retroactively, in this case to Sudan. That state has withdrawn from the litigation, refusing to participate in any way.

Courts and court documents usually epitomise conservative, formal language. Even advocates of simple English find it difficult to persuade some courts and lawyers to dump unnecessary legalisms so that ordinary people can read and understand decisions and related documents. Argument in court by counsel tends to follow the same rule: ‘clean’ language, usually conservative rather than conversational.

But now and then there’s an exception.

Conservative

This woman is supposed to be a leader, not a 'flower-girl'

The controversial new head of Kenya’s National Employment Authority (NEA) board has already lost her job. This after the high court found Mary Wambui Munene did not qualify for the position. The NEA is intended to help with the serious unemployment problem among young people in Kenya. But Wambui was 'handpicked' for the job, without the selection process laid down for positions of public office.

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One of the big political issues in Kenya, especially for young people, is that government is dominated by the elderly. True, it happens in other countries as well, but it is only Kenya that has pulled a 91-year old out of retirement to serve on a board dedicated to sport, arts and social development.

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