In light of the security challenges Kenya has been facing in recent times, the government has put forward a new bill, the Security Laws (Amendment) Bill. The bill is intended to empower the government and security agencies to fight terrorism. The bill proposes amendments to 22 laws related to security.
The bill in general is a good idea but it has some parts that if they are passed as is will seek to curtail civil liberties of ordinary Kenyans and journalists. Some parts of the bill will also give the President extra powers re the security services.
Some of the parts of the bill that are problematic include:
1.The bill intends to give the President the power to appoint and remove IGP as per Art.245 of the Constitution. It will also remove security of tenure for the Deputy Inspector Generals of Police and Director CID.
2. The bill intends to allow security agencies to have powers to intercept communication without warrant for intelligence in order to detect and prevent terrorism related offences.
3. The bill intends to review the Public Order Act with a view of limiting the right to picket and demonstrate.
The Act would be amended to give the relevant Cabinet Secretary the power to set aside special areas and time where all demonstrations and picketing would take place. It would also make organizers of demonstrations accountable and take responsibility for damage or losses occasioned by the demonstrators.
4. The bill intends to require people to get government approval to import or possess bullet-proof cars.
5. The Bill intends to make it an offence to publish or broadcast photographs of victims of terror attacks without the consent of the police or the victim. Offenders will be jailed for a maximum of three years or fined up to Sh5 million or both.
6. The bill intends to make it an offense to publish “obscene, gory or offensive material which is likely to cause fear and alarm to the general public”. Offenders will be jailed for a maximum of three years or fined up to Sh5 million or both. It is unclear how they will establish what is obscene, gory or offensive.
7. The intends to make it an offense to broadcast information that will undermine terrorism related investigations or security operations. If convicted, offenders will be jailed for a maximum of three years or fined up to Sh5 million or both.
Download: THE SECURITY LAWS AMENDMENT BILL 2014