The Mombasa High Court ruling issued today barring the Kenyan government from declaring two human rights organizations as terrorist entities is a partial victory for justice over politically motivated intimidation and harassment of civil society, said Amnesty International today.
However, despite winning the case, the prominent non-governmental organizations, Haki Africa and Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI), did not have their bank accounts unfrozen, as they had requested.
"Haki Africa and MUHURI are legitimate human rights organizations that should be allowed to freely carry on their work as human rights defenders without fear of harassment or intimidation", said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International's Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.
Haki Afrika and MUHURI, both organizations based in Mombasa, have documented human rights abuses in Kenya's coastal region. They have persistently reported on the involvement of the Kenyan security services in the extrajudicial executions of Muslim clerics and other suspected of involvement in terrorism at the coast.
Last month, the accounts of the two groups were frozen on the orders of the Central Bank and The Commission on Financial Regulation after the groups were listed as "specified entities under the Prevention of Terrorism Act" by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and Non-Governmental Organizations' Coordination Board.
On 8 April 2015, a gazette notice listed 85 companies and organizations, including MUHURI and Haki Africa, with suspected links to terrorism linking them as specified entities.
On 20 and 21 April, the KRA raided the offices of both organizations, disabling their servers, carrying away hard disks and documents, allegedly to determine whether they had been involved in tax evasion.
On 28 May, the Non-Governmental Organizations' Coordination Board announced through the media that they had de-registered the organizations.
The two organizations announced on 10 April that they would appeal the decision before the Mombasa High Court.