What You Need to Know about Taking Oath in Kenya

What is Taking Oath? What Happens when you get to a court room in Kenya? What is the Process when it’s your first time in a court in Kenya?

When you get to a witness stand in a courtroom to give evidence, the first procedure is to take oath. This is when you lift a religious book and swear to say the truth and nothing but the truth. To many people, swearing with a religious text is controversial exercise. The question arises, must a witness swear by the Bible or a Quran?

Oaths, taken in Kenya are governed first by the Constitution of Kenya 2010 and by an Act of Parliament called OATHS AND STATUTORY DECLARATIONS ACT that was enacted in March 1919. It describes how oath should be administered in Kenya, including the oath taken in court by witnesses before testifying.

The law allows you to object to taking oath using any religious book. That is if you have no religious beliefs or if taking oath is contrary to your religious beliefs. In that case you will be allowed to make an affirmation – which will not involve using any religious book. Instead of saying “I swear” you will say “I do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm”.

The affirmation will have the same effect as an oath.Section 13 of that Act provides how Africans should take their oath (remember the law was written in 1919). It states that any African who is not a Christian or a Muslim shall take oath in the form that is common and held to be binding by members of his tribe. And if the African belongs to a tribe that has no form of binding oath he shall be required to just make an affirmation instead of taking oath.

Once you make an oath of a certain religion and proceed to give evidence, you cannot turn round and claim that at the time of taking the oath you didn’t subscribe to that religion. The validity of the oath shall not be affected by your claims. 

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