'CRIMINALISES PARENTS'

Muslims lobby oppose school anti-terror law

Leaders say crime detection, prevention and investigation is the mandate of the state

In Summary

• They poked holes in the Prevention of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill, 2018, saying the proposed law is discriminatory and only seeks to criminalise parents and teachers

National Muslim Leaders Forum chairman Abdullahi Abdi, Supkem chairman Yusuf Nzibo with Namlef deputy chairman Al-Hajj Yussuf Murigu with National Assembly director for legal affairs Van Akama at Parliament Buildings yesterday
DISCRIMINATION: National Muslim Leaders Forum chairman Abdullahi Abdi,  Supkem chairman Yusuf Nzibo with Namlef deputy chairman Al-Hajj Yussuf Murigu with National Assembly director for legal affairs Van Akama at Parliament Buildings yesterday
Image: EZEKIEL AMING'A

Muslim leaders have rejected the proposed amendments to the anti-terrorism law that requires teachers and parents to watch over their children to ensure they are not radicalised.

They poked holes in the Prevention of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill, 2018, saying the proposals only seeks to 'criminalise’ parents and headteachers.

Led by Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims chairman Yussuf Nzibo, the leaders presented their memorandum to the clerk of the National Assembly Michael Sialai. The memorandum was received by the House’s legal director Jane Nyaboke.

 

They said the bill, sponsored by nominated Senator Naomi Waqo, violates the Constitution and will hurt the war on terrorism.

The bill state parents would be responsible for monitoring the activities of their children after school hours and during weekends and holidays to ensure they are not lured into extremist groups.

It mandates the parents to immediately report to the school or police if their children go missing.

The proposals also require school heads to immediately report to the National Counter Terrorism Center or police if a student disappears and is believed to have joined a terrorist group.

School managers will be required to keep an updated record of all students and ensure that teachers and other staff are trained to recognise vulnerable students likely to be drawn into radicalisation.

School regulators will establish ways to spot, deradicialise and reintegrate students found to have been involved in extremism, the bill says.

But the leaders faulted the proposals, saying the bill seeks to transfer the accountability for radicalisation from state agencies to parents, school administrators and teachers.

 

The leaders said crime detection, prevention and investigation is the mandate of the state.

“Demanding that parents or guardians and teachers take up this responsibility is a breach of this agreement. The citizens pay taxes and have donated some of their powers and this amendment purports to redesign this agreement,” the leaders said in their memorandum.

They said requiring parents and teachers to monitor the activities of students will turn school administrators, tutors and guardians to agents of state security.

The memorandum is signed by Jamia Mosque committee chairman Sheikh Warfa, Muslim Education Council executive director Munawar Khan, National Muslim Leaders Forum chairman Abdullahi Abdi and Al-Majlis Ulmaa Kenya chairman Sheikh Khamis.

“School administrators and parents are not trained to do intelligence gathering. They do not have the capacity or necessary resources to detect radicalisation. They surely cannot fill a role that even the security services find difficult to detect despite their mandate and resources.” 

The Senate has already finalised the bill and submitted it to the National Assembly for the input of MPs before it is sent to the President for assent into law.

The Muslim leaders also faulted the bill for trying to legislate parental responsibility, which, according to them, is a natural duty that is beyond the law.

They said bestowing the role of fighting radicalisation and terrorism exclusively on parents and school heads is discriminatory because it leaves out key players including religious and community leaders.

"Radicalisation can occur to individuals in all sectors and therefore creating a specific obligation to only academic administrators is discriminatory.”

edited by peter obuya