29 May 2018

Kenya: Court Suspends Portions of Cybercrime Law

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(file photo).

The High Court has temporarily suspended sections of the Cybercrime law.

Justice John Mativo issued the directive Tuesday in a case in which Bloggers Association of Kenya sued the Attorney-General, the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Inspector-General of Police and the Director of Public Prosecution over the Computer Misuse and Cyber Crimes Act 2018.

FREE SPEECH

The Kenya Union of Journalists and Article 19, a lobby that deals with freedom of expression and information, are listed as interested parties in the case.

Mr Geofrey Maina filed a similar suit last week.

According to the bloggers, the disputed law contains provisions which deny, infringe and threaten freedom of expression, media and persons besides the right to privacy, property and a fair hearing.

They said the millions of internet users are at risk of being arrested and prosecuted for unconstitutional offences.

"It is in the public interest that the coming into force of the Act be stayed pending the substantive hearing and determination of this case," said Ms Mercy Mutemi for the bloggers.

In the case documents, the bloggers pointed out that a good number of Kenyans now draw their livelihood from content creation online and that there have been previous attempts by the government to clamp down freedom of expression in that platform.

They alleged that  Section 29 of the Kenya Information and Communication Act and Section 194 of the penal code were the ones famously used to punish freedom of expression offenders.

The two laws touched on criminal defamation and were declared unconstitutional by the High Court in February last year.

The bloggers claimed that the cybercrime law which comes into effect Wednesday, seeks to reintroduce the purged laws while imposing harsher restrictions.

They alleged that in 2016, at least 60 bloggers were arrested for exercising their freedom of expression online while several journalists were silenced, intimidated, harassed or killed.

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