PUBLIC INTEREST LAWSUIT

Stop demanding people pay for forced quarantine - Muhuri

Muhuri wants police stopped from arbitrarily arresting and quarantining Kenyans, saying they risk exposing them at the centres

In Summary

•Muhuri wants the government to pay costs of quarantining patients, saying it received WHO funding.

• The organisation says Kenyans can barely afford basic needs like food and clearly cannot pay Sh2,000 in quarantine centres. 

People forced into coronavirus quarantine should not be forced to foot the bill - usually a minimum Sh2,000 per day - the state should pay, says a lobby group.

Muslims for Human Righ (Muhuri) on Thursday sued the state, challenging the mandatory isolation and quarantining of people suspected to have the virus at their own cost.

Under a certificate of urgency, Muhuri wants the High Court in Mombasa to suspend the general upkeep costs and expenses imposed upon and demanded from those under mandatory quarantine.

It's a public interest lawsuit.

Muhuri also wants law enforcers prohibited from carrying out what they call arbitrary arrests and unjustified mandatory quarantine of people not suspected to have the virus or the disease, Covid-19.

In a supporting affidavit filed by Muhuri chair Khelef Khalifa, they say such acts have exposed uninfected persons to the virus and breached their rights and freedoms.

Muhuri has sued the Attorney General, the Police IG and the CS for Health.

“Due to the prevailing dire economic situation, loss of jobs and means of earning a livelihood due to the restraints and constraints placed upon citizens, the majority of Kenyans are currently living in abject poverty.

"They can hardly afford to feed themselves and their families, let alone part with the daily payment of Sh2,000 being demanded,” Khelef said in his April 23 affidavit.

The organisation says it is incumbent that the government bears all costs related to the fight against Covid 19 as expressly stipulated Section 27 of the Public Health Act.

“The government should take up this responsibility as the converse is and will be the oppression and suppression of the mwananchi, rather than of the intended enemy,” he said.

Government, he noted, besides its own resources and calamity kitty, has received funding from World Health Organization of about $70 million towards the Covid-19 fight. He said it thus has the capacity to fully control and suppress the disease without forcing its citizens to pay for their upkeep.

He further accused security personnel of arbitrarily and without reasonable grounds arresting and causing otherwise healthy and Covid-19-free people to be exposed to the virus.

 “The security and law enforcement machinery has hijacked the government’s war and turned it into a tool for wanton of oppression of Kenyans, grabbed indiscriminately and without reasonable grounds from the streets and mandatorily dumped in government health facilities in the name of quarantine," Khelef said.

Muhuri wants the court to suspend the payment of all general upkeep costs and expenses being demanded and require absolute compliance from all government health facilities hosting quarantined persons.

Muhuri says the expenses being forced on those in quarantine are related to medical, accommodation and general upkeep.

“Sanitary and hygiene conditions of most designated government health facilities are not only deplorable and hazardous, as far as health issues are concerned but also do not meet or maintain the national government's Health ministry's mandatory guidelines," Khelef said.

These centres into which many poor and innocent people are forced to act as breeding grounds and conduits for the unabated spread of the virus, he said.

Muhuri is represented by Lumatete Muchai.

(Edited by V. Graham)