Court allows lecturers to travel abroad without president’s nod


Court allows lecturers to travel abroad without president's nod

In Summary

  • Justice Chacha Mwita on Thursday ruled that the restriction limits lecturers fundamental rights and freedom of movement guaranteed by the constitution.
  • UASU had told the court that the government did not consult them before reaching the said decision, adding that the rules of natural justice had been violated.
  • On its part, the government defended the move saying the president is the head of state, therefore, has powers under the Constitution to direct and coordinate functions of ministries and government departments.

The High Court in Nairobi has quashed a government restriction requiring university lecturers to seek clearance from the Office of the President before travelling outside the country.

Justice Chacha Mwita on Thursday ruled that the restriction limits lecturers fundamental rights and freedom of movement guaranteed by the constitution.

“It is not a right granted by the State… The State duty is to respect, protect and promote fundamental rights and freedoms in the Bill of Rights,” ruled Justice Mwita.

The University Academic Staff Union (UASU), which challenged the restriction, told the court that the government did not consult them before reaching the said decision, adding that the rules of natural justice had been violated.

UASU further submitted that dons are by the very nature of their duties often required to travel outside the country to participate in regional and international collaborative research workshops, specialised conferences and seminars.

“The decision was made whimsically and arbitrarily thus discriminates against the petitioners members some of whom are professors, scholars, lectures, teachers as well as researchers in public as well as private institution who may not be affected by the letter yet there is no distinctions in teaching requirements across universities” argued UASU.

The lecturers’ union further claimed that the circular was not issued in good faith, adding that it is neither reasonable nor justifiable in an open and democratic society.

On its part, the government defended the move saying the president is the head of state, therefore, has powers under the Constitution to direct and coordinate functions of ministries and government departments.

The circular issued in September 2017 targeted cabinet secretaries, principal secretaries and officers in ministries, chief executive officers of parastatals and their officers and Board of Directors of parastatals.

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Story By Dzuya Walter
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