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September 25, 2012

Kenya’s Terrorism Bill Faces Rejection

by Mohammed Yusuf

Kenya’s terrorism bill, due to be brought to parliament for debate this week, faces rejection as Muslim leaders and legal experts call for changes to some clauses that they say infringe on their constitutional rights. 

The Muslim community along with some lawyers have expressed concerns about the bill, particularly section 4, which deals with the investigation of terrorism-related offenses.

According to Apollo Mboya, the head of Law Society of Kenya, the section violates the fundamental rights provided in Kenya's new constitution.

Mboya says that clause infringes on the right to property.

“The most important thing that the inspector general can do is to go to court and ask for a court order to seize that [property] because you cannot give inspector general unfettered power just to do that,” says Mboya.

Kenya has witnessed a series of grenade attacks since its troops crossed into Somalia last year in pursuit of militant group al-Shabab.

Last week, a Kenyan court sentenced a member of al-Shabab to 59 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to being a member of the militant group.   

Newly appointed Security Minister Katoo Ole Metito on Monday vowed to push the enactment of the terrorism bill. He also said he will lobby his colleagues to support it despite facing opposition from Muslim leaders.

A member of parliament from Kenya’s primarily Muslim North East region, Adan Duale, he says he wants changes made on the controversial clauses.

“I am not advocating for the rejection of the bill but I am advocating for removing the articles that will infringe on the basic fundamental freedoms of our people,” he says.

Past attempts to pass terrorism bills have failed in parliament because of similar concerns.