Using XML to enable the Semantic Web A Practical Insight into Kenya Law

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Oct 21, 2013 (3 years and 8 months ago)

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Using XML to enable the Semantic
Web

A
Practical Insight into Kenya
Law


A Presentation by Martin Andago

Introduction

Kenya

Law

is

an

award

winning,

semi
-
autonomous

state

corporation

established

under

the

National

Council

for

Law

Reporting

Act
.

In

the

structure

and

organization

of

the

affairs

of

government,

Kenya

Law’s

parent

institution

is

The

Judiciary

of

Kenya
.



Our

mandate

is
:

-

To

monitor

and

report

on

the

development

of

Kenyan

jurisprudence

through

the

publication

of

the

Kenya

Law

Reports
;


-

To

revise,

consolidate

and

publish

the

Laws

of

Kenya
;

and


-

To

undertake

such

other

related

publications

and

perform

such

other

functions

as

may

be

conferred

by

law
.


Kenya

Law

is

led

by

a

Council

of

Members

chaired

by

the

Chief

Justice

and

has

a

secretariat

with

members

of

staff

led

by

a

Chief

Executive/Editor
.


Background

For a long time, Kenyans relied heavily on
paper based laws
and the possibility of
digitized laws had not been explored or envisioned.


When
Kenya Law started its work of publishing electronic judicial decisions of the High
Court and the Court of Appeal, there was a realization that these law reports must go
hand in hand with Acts of Parliament and Bills for ease reference to users. This led to
the digitization of the Laws of Kenya.


The
same was also deployed on the internet to facilitate easier access. Currently,
Kenya has over
600 statutes
running into over
28,000 pages
of
legislative
text
including subsidiary legislation.


Law Revision in Kenya

Law

revision

in

Kenya

is

a

statutory

power

conferred

on

the

Attorney

General

by

the

Revision

of

Laws

Act

(Cap

1

Laws

of

Kenya)
.


The

powers

of

law

revision

given

to

the

Attorney

General

are

very

wide
.

He

has

powers

to

alter

numbering,

consolidate

laws,

omit

certain

laws,

supply

marginal

notes

and

alter

their

arrangement
.

But,

he

may

not

make

any

alteration

or

amendment

in

the

substance

of

any

law
.

The

Attorney

General

can

delegate

this

power

to

anybody

to

carry

out

the

revision

of

laws
.


Due

to

capacity

constraints,

the

Attorney
-
General

delegated

the

power

to

revise

the

Laws

of

Kenya

to

Kenya

Law

through

Legal

Notice

No
.

29

of

2009
.



Parliament

had

earlier,

in

2007
,

amended

Section

6
(
3
)

of

the

Revision

of

Laws

Act

to

give

legislative

recognition

to

electronically

published

laws

in

Kenya

and

make

them

official
.


Challenges in Law Revision

A

complete

revision

of

the

Laws

of

Kenya

had

not

been

done

for

over

20

years
.



Every

year,

new

legislation

or

amendments

to

existing

legislation

and

regulations

made

under

Acts

of

Parliament

(subsidiary

legislation)

are

passed

by

Parliament

and

added

to

the

body

of

Kenyan

Law,

while

some

Acts

and

Regulations

are

amended

or

repealed

altogether
.



The

need

for

comprehensive

revision

and

updating

of

the

Laws

of

Kenya

as

contemplated

under

the

Revision

of

the

Laws

Act

had

become

critical

in

order

to

do

away

with

a

cut

and

paste

culture

that

had

been

adopted

in

order

to

update

hard

copies

of

legislation
.



This

archaic

method

of

revising

laws

had

proved

both

inaccurate

and

unreliable
.


Archaic Law Revision

The Laws of Kenya in XML

In

order

to

provide

legal

information

in

an

organized,

timely

and

universally

friendly

manner,

Kenya

Law

embarked

on

a

project

to

digitize

all

the

Laws

of

Kenya
.


This

project

sought

to

revise

and

update

all

the

chapters

of

the

Laws

of

Kenya,

and

to

publish

the

laws

in

print

form

as

well

as

electronic

media

and

interactive

CD
-
ROM

format,

whilst

also

ensuring

sustainability

with

regards

to

the

future

updating

of

the

Laws

of

Kenya
.


In

the

spirit

of

Open

access,

XML

was

chosen

as

the

format

of

choice

and

Akoma

Ntoso

as

the

schema

to

ensure

compliance
.



The

development

phase

of

the

project

was

handled

in

two

streams,

namely

Editorial

and

Electronic

Solutions

development
.



This

enabled

parallel

task

execution

in

order

to

guarantee

successfully

delivered

within

the

given

time

constraints
.


Akoma

Ntoso

Schema

Akoma

Ntoso
,

which

stands

for


Architecture

for

Knowledge
-
Oriented

Management

of

African

Normative

Texts

using

Open

Standards

and

Ontologies


defines

a

set

of

simple,

technology
-
neutral

electronic

representations

of

documents

for

e
-
services

in

a

worldwide

context

and

provides

an

enabling

framework

for

the

effective

exchange

of

"machine

readable"

documents

such

as

legislation,

debate

record,

minutes,

judgments,

among

others
.


Akoma

Ntoso

is

the

result

of

the

efforts

of

the

Africa

i
-
Parliaments

Action

Plan

to

realize

a

common

standard

for

the

interchange

of

legal

documents

among

institutions

and

countries
.

Building

on

the

opportunities

offered

by

open

standards,

it

aims

at

supporting

the

development

of

high
-
value

parliamentary

and

legislative

information

services
.

Today,

institutions

are

striving

to

leverage

modern

information

and

communications

technologies

to

radically

improve

the

quality

of

their

services

and

to

improve

access

to

information

as

a

strategic

resource

for

the

young

and

active

democracies
.


Akoma

Ntoso

Schema

Key Features

Point in Time Referencing

Point

in

Time

allows

an

individual

to

map

out

the

development

of

legislation

over

time,

which

provides

for

a

timeline

reflection

of

the

history

of

amendments

to

a

particular

Act
.

Key Features

Hyperlinking

A hyperlink is formed when there is a reference to another section or
another act in the text of the current legislation that you are reading.

Key Features

Export to .PDF & .RTF

The

new

Laws

of

Kenya

database

provides

two

ways

to

work

with

content

once

you

have

found

it
.



You

can

quickly

get

a

PDF

version

of

the

piece

of

legislation

that

you

are

viewing

and

you

can

also

get

a

RTF

version

that

will

open

in

your

word

processor
.


Key Features

Multiple Search Criteria

There

are

several

ways

to

find

content

in

the

Laws

of

Kenya

database
.

You

can

search

by

Act

Name,

Act

Number/Cap

Number

or

by

Full

Text

Search
.


Alternatively

you

can

browse

through

the

Table

of

Contents

of

the

Laws

of

Kenya

which

includes

all

acts

ordered

alphabetically
.


Arising Issues

Discrepancies between Hard & Soft Copies of Legislation


The

Laws

of

Kenya

XML

database

contains

legislation

that

has

been

converted

from

either

hard

copy

or

soft

copy

to

XML
.

The

workflow

through

which

the

content

runs

before

being

availed

online

is

meticulous

to

ensure

that

no

errors,

whether

typographical

or

otherwise,

slip

through

the

cracks
.


Parliament

had

earlier,

in

2007
,

amended

Section

6
(
3
)

of

the

Revision

of

Laws

Act

to

give

legislative

recognition

to

electronically

published

laws

in

Kenya

and

make

them

official
.


Nonetheless
,

if

a

discrepancy

exists

between

the

written

and

electronic

format,

the

written

law

shall

always

take

precedence
.


The Way Forward

The

Semantic

Web

aims

to

unify

the

way

semantic

information

is

stored

and

exchanged,

making

it

possible

for

one

system

to

not

just

read

but

also

“understand”

the

data

from

another

source
.


In

the

past,

focus

was

primarily

directed

towards

the

electronic

dissemination

of

documents

online

with

little

or

no

attention

to

more

sophisticated

services

such

as

hyper
-
textual

access,

semantic

search,

cross
-
jurisdictional

linking,

among

others
.

As

a

result,

we

have

seen

a

lack

of

uniformity

in

the

preparation

and

structuring

documents

online
.


it’s

time

to

adopt

a

standardized

technology

platform

to

improve

data

exchange,

document

life
-
cycle

automation

and

standardized

representations

of

data

and

metadata
.

Conclusion

The

Constitution

of

Kenya

guarantees

the

right

to

access

public

information

as

a

fundamental

right

for

all

citizens
.



Kenya

Law,

driven

by

its

mandate

to

provide

access

to

public

legal

information

embarked

on

a

mission

to

provide

the

revised,

updated

and

accurate

full

text

of

Kenya’s

national

legislation

in

an

Open

Document

Format

known

as

Extensible

Markup

Language

(XML)
.



With

a

seamless

workflow

in

place,

XML

documents

are

now

created,

uploaded,

proof
-
read

and

published

online

for

public

consumption

in

a

format

that

is

readily

exportable
.