We are opposed to plans to derail gains made by civil society, activists say

Members of the Coast Civil Society groups hold hands in solidarity at the Mombasa's Royal castle hotel on Tuesday. [Maarufu Mohamed, Standard]
Opposition is mounting on plans by the Government to amend the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2012 (No .30 of 2012) and the Public Order Act, 2019 (National Assembly Bills No. 14 of 2019).

This is to be done through the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendment) Bill, 2019.

The network has petitioned Parliament to immediately withdraw the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendment) Bill 2019 and in particular the amendments therein  to the Law which seeks to amend among others  the Prevention of Terrorism Act , 2012 (No 30 of 2012) and the Public Order Act ,2019 (National Assembly Bills No 14. 2019).

It is calling on the Senate to ensure that the state and in particular the National Counter Terrorism Centre must categorically confirm their commitment to civil society independence in the process of countering violent extremism.

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The Coast Civil Society Reference Group, a network of over 40 civil society organisations based at the Kenyan Coast and working on security and human rights expressed dismay at the ongoing legal reforms that are happening in the country.

The network stated that they are opposed in totality to the proposes amendments to the Prevention of Terrorism Act which require that the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) be the approving and reporting institution for all civil society organisations and International Non-Governmental Organisation working on preventing and countering violent extremism

Addressing the press in Mombasa yesterday, spokesman for the network, Mr Yusuf Lule of Human Rights Agenda (Huria) said that they found it belittling to be asked to register with NCTC as civil societies operating in the country are already registered and do not require to register again.

''Civil society organisations are already registered and approved by the relevant laws and state institutions to operate and execute their mandates. This new requirement is tantamount to double registration which will negate the purpose of registering,'' Lule stated.

The network added that the amendments proposed have substantive effect on the said law and therefore should not be presented as part of the miscellaneous law.

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''If need be, a detailed review of the entire law should be done whereas civil societies we will also propose amendments,'' added the network.

The network further stated that civil society organisation are independent, nonpartisan, non-political entities which cannot be directed to seek authority or report to a state entity.

Haki Africa Executive director, Mr Hussein Khalid said that those behind the move are attempting to sneak miscellaneous amendments that will have profound repercussions on the Kenyan society.

He said that the right to demonstrate is enshrined in the constitution and the law requires organisers to notify police well in advance.

''This is for the purpose to ensure security, therefore the police cannot abscond their duty of ensuring security for persons and property,'' he said.

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Leading crusader of human rights and a women activist, Ms Phyliss Muema  warned of a return to the dark old days of single rule.

''This whole idea is an illegality in the first place as movers of these amendments are keen on muzzling the civil society yet it is civil societies that have done alot to help solemnise and create awarerness on dangers posed by violent extremists,'' Phyliss Muema ,a leading human rights activist said.

She said that efforts to sneak in the amendments should be shot down.

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ActivistsPublic Order ActStatute Law