State amends terror Bill amid protests

By Cyrus Ombati

The Government has agreed to push for “few” amendments in the Prevention of Terrorism Bill, 2012 in a bid to get the support of Muslim legislators in Parliament.

The Bill was due for second reading on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday for passage in the House.

The agreement was reached at during a meeting of some ministers and Muslim leaders at the Office of the President.

Those present included minister for Justice Eugene Wamalwa, Internal Security minister Katoo ole Metito, Permanent Secretary Mutea Iringo and Muslim MPs Abdikadir Mohamed, Mohamud Mohamed, Sheikh Mohamed Dor and former MP Billow Kerrow among others.

The leaders said they had agreed to amend few clauses that they deemed contentious and go against the Bill of Rights. They however refused to state the clauses saying the issue would be discussed before the House.

“We will not discuss the particular clauses here because they are coming up in Parliament for debate,” said Mr Dor.

The announcement was made after two days of deliberations between the Muslim leaders opposed to the sections they deem bad and government officials.

They announced drafters were working on the proposed changes before they are announced on the floor of the House for adoption or rejection.

Mr Metito said the purpose of the meeting was to ensure all Kenyans understand the objective of the Bill and it support required.

“I am happy to state that we have addressed all the concerns raised by the Muslim leadership and agreed to wholly support the Bill,” said Mr Metito.

The meeting and resolutions came as a group of youth staged street demonstrations in Nairobi to support the Bill

The youth under the National Young Patriots said it is only the law that can save the country from the yoke of terrorism that is threatening the security of the nation.

They urged Members of Parliament to ensure the bill is enacted the way it is and told off those opposed to it and calling for its amendment or withdrawal.

“The Government should not cow into the peddlers of misinformation but vigorously ensure the Bill is passed into law so that the country can efficiently fight terror and remain peaceful,” said Mark Maina, the leader of the group.

They added the Bill is a great step forward unlike the anti-terror Bill 2006, which was drafted under the old constitution.

The group added the Bill does not target any faith, religious group or sectarian interests as peddled by people who are fixed on ensuring fight on terrorism is not successful.

On Sunday, a group of Muslim leaders opposed it and demanded its amendment or withdrawal.

The group claimed the Bill negates against the Bill of Rights as provided in the constitution.

They urged Members of Parliament to consider amending sections of the proposed law that they argued are harsh.

“Failure to which we will seek other avenues including courts. We are talking on behalf of Kenyans and not Muslims only,” said Kerow.

He said those opposed to the Bill want fundamental changes and especially in the police before it becomes a law.

Harsh jail terms without the option of a fine await individuals who engage in terrorism activities.

Persons who engage in terrorism activities that result into death of their victims will spend the rest of their lives in jail. A similar penalty awaits leaders of terrorist groups

According to the Bill, those who take part in terrorism activities will be slapped with 30 years in prison without an option of a fine.

Additionally under the court’s authority police officers, would enter into any premise and install devices to capture specific information related to terrorism activities.

Further, the court may make an order requiring communication service providers to intercept and retain specified information received or transmitted for the commission of terrorism activities.

Only a police officer of the rank of Chief Inspector of Police or above would be allowed to make application for the interception of such communication, but they must get a written consent from the Inspector General..

The Bill establishes a legal framework for the detection, prevention and investigation of terrorist acts.

Individuals arrested with dangerous weapons that are intended to carry out terrorism activities will be jailed for 20 years without an option of fine.

Anyone who directly or indirectly deals in any property owned by a terrorist group would be jailed for 20 years.