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Attorney General's move on rights groups cases opposed

COUNTIES
By Joackim Bwana | May 4th 2015
Prominent Nairobi lawyer Paul Muite in this undated photo filed on 20th May, 2014

Senior Counsel Paul Muite has objected to an application by the Attorney General to consolidate a petition by two Mombasa based rights groups and five other entities that have been linked to terror financing.

Mombasa based rights group Haki Africa and Muslim for Human Rights (Muhuri) have sued the State after police froze their bank accounts in the wake of the April 2 terrorist attack in Garissa. They have also sued two banks seeking the lifting of the bans. Mr Muite is their lawyer.

Muite told Justice Mathews Anyara Emukule that a consolidation of the cases is not necessary before a ruling can be made to unfreeze the accounts, and further argued it is not known whether the other five entities have challenged the suspension of their accounts.

Muite further said the two human rights groups were non-governmental organisations and not business entities or individuals like the other five parties. He further said that since the two petitioners operate in the six coastal counties, their cases should be tried in Mombasa.

The office of the AG, represented by Wanjiku Biu, had requested for the consolidation of the six cases at a later stage, arguing  they were the same.

"In view of the fact that there is a petition before a court of similar jurisdiction, we saw it necessary to consolidate all the matters because the gazette notice was issued by the Inspector General of Police," said Biu.

Muite said the petitioners do not fit the description of terrorist organisations as set out in the Prevention of Terrorism Act, hence freezing of their accounts was illegal.

"85 entities listed as associates of the Al-Shabaab have not yet been gazetted as terrorist organisations. What is the IG waiting for?" said Muite.

However, Alexander Muteti for the DPP said the court had no jurisdiction to interrogate the matter because it was under investigation. The two organisations are set to know the fate of their accounts on May 19 when Justice Emukule will rule on the matter.

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