WHAT IS A LAW?
A country’s legal system is made up of individual laws which are generally rules set and enforced by the government. Failing to follow the law in a country will often lead to penalties, such as a fine or arrest.
Laws are made in slightly different ways across different countries. However, the process for making laws in many countries is similar to that of Kenya. Here, a bill (a proposed law) is debated and voted on before becoming a law.After being voted through Parliament it is known as an Act of Parliament, which means a new law has been created or an old law has been changed.
Under the Kenyan constitution, a law is made once Parliament passes a bill. This happens in stages. The first stage is the publication of the bill in the Kenya Gazette, a government publication which tries to make the public aware of a proposed bill and to get them to engage with it.
After this, the bill goes through its First Reading. This when the proposed bill is read out in Parliament and done by the most relevant committee. It is generally done without debate.
Following the First Reading is the Second Reading, during which members of Parliament debate the bill and the report of the committee in which the bill went through its First Reading. No amendments (changes) to the bill are heard at the ‘Second Reading’.
The next stage for the bill is the Committee of the Whole House, during which amendments to the bill are proposed and voted on by members of Parliament.
Once this has been done, the bill moves to its Third Reading. This involves further debate about the bill as it has been amended. If a bill receives enough support at its Third Reading it is considered to have been passed and will now be enforced within Kenya.
Depending on the type of bill, it may either be sent to the other house of Parliament to ensure that both houses agree on the bill. Otherwise, it is sent to the President, who signs the bill into law. Once this has happened, it is published in the Kenya Gazette as an Act of Parliament within seven days of it being signed.
In Kenya, a bill has several stages to go through before becoming law. These are publication, a First Reading, Second Reading, Committee of the Whole House and a Third Reading. Only once all these stages have been passed will the President sign a bill and make it into law.