THREATEN SUIT

Lobby groups reject amended counterterrorism law

Say the proposed law is a threat to freedom and independence of human rights groups.

In Summary

• President Uhuru Kenyatta on July 5 signed into law the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill, 2019 which among others amended the Prevention of Terrorism Act expanding the counterterrorism agency's mandate.

• The amended law mandates the National Counterterrorism Centre to be the approving and reporting institution for all nongovernmental organisations.

Human right agenda CEO Yusuf Lule
Human right agenda CEO Yusuf Lule
Image: ALLOYS MUSYOKA

Civil society groups at the Coast have threatened to move to court to block the implementation of the amended Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2019.

The lobby groups say the proposed law is a threat to freedom and independence of human rights groups.

 The amended law mandates the National Counter-terrorism Centre to be the approving and reporting institution for all nongovernmental organisations.

 

President Uhuru Kenyatta on July 5 signed into law the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill, 2019 which among others amended the Prevention of Terrorism Act expanding the counter-terrorism agency's mandate.

The changes expand the responsibilities of the counter-terrorism, centre to include analysis of all information and intelligence on terrorism and counter-terrorism activities.

 The centre will also act as an approving and reporting institution for all civil society organisations and international NGOs engaged in preventing and countering violent extremism and radicalisation.

But the groups want the specific amendments touching on CSOs be expunged or a guarantee by the government that their independence while undertaking their counter-terrorism activities will be respected.

 The groups, through Coast Civil Society Reference Group, said they will go to court in seven days’ time to seek a legal intervention on the law.

“If no action is taken, we shall explore other options at our disposal including seeking courts' intervention and exercising our rights under article 37 of the constitution to demonstrate and present petitions,”  Haki Africa boss Hussein Khalid said. 

Manyatta Youth Entertainment chief Nicholas Songora said NCTC has no capacity to approve every prevention of counter violent extremism(PCVE) activity in the country.

 

“All organisations report their narrative and financial reports to the central NGOs board, hence this amendment will duplicate roles,” Songora said.

Human Rights Agenda director Yusuf Lule called on MPs from the Coast to come out and petition the amended law.

 The amended Act also introduces other government agencies to the membership of the counterterrorism centre including the National Police Service, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Kenya Wildlife Service, the Kenya Prisons Service and the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority.

(edited by O. Owino)