26 May 2003

Kenya: Gov't Seeks Damages From US Over Terror Alerts

Nairobi — Kenya has asked the US government to compensate it for losses suffered from recent terrorism alerts.

Trade and Industry Minister Mukhisa Kituyi told US officials at a meeting in Washington DC that Kenya was being threatened with attacks by international terrorists because of its friendship with their country.

"We are not going to abandon our friendship with America. But we do need financial help to ameliorate the impact of the terrorist threat on our tourism sector," Mr Kituyi told Assistant Secretary of State Walter Kansteiner on Thursday.

Mr Kansteiner, the State Department's top official on African affairs, replied that he would consider the request.

In a warning updated on May 16, the United States urged its citizens to defer all non-essential travel to Kenya at that time.

The minister was due to leave on Thursday night after a 10-day visit that he described as "extremely productive".

In meetings at World Bank headquarters in Washington, Mr Kituyi was formally notified that Kenya will soon be receiving $100 million (Sh7 billion) in grants from the institution.

Meanwhile, people convicted of terrorism face a life sentence if a new Bill becomes law.

The Suppression of Terrorism Bill, 2003, published by in Kenya Gazette, details measures for the detection and prevention of terrorist activities in the country.

But an East African Law Society official criticised the Bill for violating the universal principle of human rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights of which Kenya is a signatory.

Mr Otiende Amolo said the proposed law flouted constitutional protections guaranteed by the Constitution.

"Such legislation carry with it a great potential for misuse by corrupt, dictatorial or retrogressive regimes, especially in the developing world to silence alternative political opinion, limit the freedom of expression and impede human rights work," he said.

Mr Amolo said the offences created in the Bill are already covered by penal statutes such as the Penal Code and the Public Health Act.

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