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NEW ALCOHOL LAW HALTED IN KENYA

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Denzel Musumba

Denzel Musumba

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Drinkers have cause to smile after the High Court temporarily halted the implementation of the new alcohol law that has seen many face criminal charges. The temporary order stopping the implementation of the Alcoholic Drinks Control Act 2010 regulations was given by High Court judge John Mwera following an application by Murang’a bar operators. The litigants based their case on grounds that the transitional clause in the law allows for a nine-month compliance period, which is yet to lapse. The group also argued that the district liquor licensing committee has not been constituted to issue them with new documents. Businessmen are required to close bars and restaurants that do not conform to the Alcoholic Drinks Control Act 2010 regulations. The Act that prohibits the selling of alcohol before 5pm on weekdays and 2pm at weekends, and after 11pm all the week came into effect on November 22, but the regulations, which would announce its commencement date, are yet to be gazetted. This law, said the bar operators, exposes them to harassment, including closure of their business premises should they fail to observe the new operating hours. In view of this, they believe the new law is discriminative and inconsistent with the Constitution. Serve suit papers On Friday, Justice Mwera directed the bar operators to serve their suit papers on the National Campaign Against Drug Abuse Authority, Attorney-General Amos Wako and Internal Security Minister George Saitoti. The case will be heard on January 18. A similar case was filed in court on December 27 by 55 Embu Bar Owners Welfare Association. However, Mr Justice Daniel Musinga who heard the case declined to give any temporary orders then. In their case, the group had said the new law had the effect of edging them out of business.

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