Capital FM (Nairobi)

23 September 2012

Kenya: Pressure Mounts for Rejection of Anti-Terror Law

Photo: Capital FM
President Mwai Kibaki has assented to two crucial bills, including the Prevention of Terrorist Act 2012 which gives law enforcers more powers in fighting terrorism in the country.

Muslim leaders have once again urged Parliament to reject the Anti-Terrorism Bill 2012 which they say will undermine the rights of Kenyans if passed in the current form.

The leaders led by former Mandera Central MP Billow Kerrow have threatened to go to court if the Bill is passed into law, saying it seeks to limit the threshold required by security agencies to secure the conviction of a suspect, in glaring contradiction of provisions in the Bill of Rights.

Clauses in Section 4 of the Bill seek to give the police powers when spying on suspects, including taping telephone conversations to collect evidence against them which they say is a violation of human rights.

"Unless fundamental changes are done to that Bill, it should actually be shelved. That Bill cannot apply in the current situation we are in... it will be undermining the rights of Kenyans and the constitution," said Kerrow.

"The requirement that you have to be proven guilty by the court is not there, you have to defend yourself. The issue of the balance of probability... if a police officer has reasonable ground that your guilty, he can take action against you instead of what is in the constitution that the mistake has to be proven, "added Kerrow.

He said the Bill also seeks to limit fundamental rights provided under Article 24 of the Constitution for persons under investigation, in particular, those relating to freedom of speech, freedom of expression, privacy, freedom of the media, freedom of conscience, religion, belief and the right to property.

"Whilst the right to remain silent is anchored in the Constitution, Sections 34 forces self-incrimination. Section 41 also obligates every Kenyan to give information, including privileged information with lawyers, banks and other professionals that can readily be abused. It would also be unwise to have a law that criminalizes freedom of association contrary to Articles 36 and 37 of the Constitution," said Kerrow.

The chairman of the National Muslim Leaders' Forum Abdullahi Abdi said the government should have reformed the police first before even coming up with the draft of the Bill.

He also claimed that there are foreign interests which mostly target the Muslim community.

"We are just cautioning the Kenyan people, that this is a very dangerous law that is being brought through the back door, we know it's a foreign agenda and it is being imposed on the government of this land, and there are conditionality being placed on it, including threats of sanctions. This is undermining our sovereignty," said Abdi.

The Bill is expected to go through its second reading in Parliament this week before it is passed into law.

"As a Member of Parliament and as a Kenyan who understand the matters of the constitution, together with others, we will try our best and convince our colleagues to reject the Bill, since it is against the constitutions and the will of many Kenyans," said Abdikadir Mohammed, the MP for Mandera Central.

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InFocus

Kenyan President Approves Terror Bill

President Mwai Kibaki has assented to two crucial bills, including the Prevention of Terrorist Act 2012 which gives law enforcers more powers in fighting terrorism in the country.

President Kibaki has assented to the Prevention of Terrorist Act 2012 which gives law enforcers more powers in fighting terrorism in the country. The current laws do not specify ... Read more »