By Ahmednasir Abdullahi
The Security Laws (Amendment Bill) 2014 is one of the most revolutionary and momentous Bills in the history of Kenya.
In ranking its place in terms of historic significance it is in the same league as the amendment that made Kenya a de facto one-party state in the 1980s. It is in the same league as the repealing of section 2A of the constitution in 1991.
It is as earth shaking as the promulgation of the Constitution in 2010. The Security Laws (Amendment Bill) is an epoch defining Bill. It is a game changer!
This Bill has nothing to do with the fight against terrorism, as Majority Leader Aden Duale wants Kenyans to believe.
It is a Bill designed to bully, cow and torment certain sections of the country’s population. The Bill is a primal, Orwellian, Stalinist and fascist piece of legislation that drives hard and deep a poisonous dagger into the heart of our constitutional order. It has specific regions and communities as its primary target.
Thanks to the Bill, certain communities and regions will be governed by a completely different legal regime compared to the rest of Kenyans. If this Bill passes, Duale will be remembered for long by generations in northern Kenya and the Coast region for his eloquent advocacy of a most obnoxious law.
Duale needs to read the history of his native northern Kenya in order to internalise the Bill’s ramifications. It is a Bill that uses the history of the region as its oppressive reference point.
The Bill amends a number of statutes. Some of the amendments are welcome and pragmatic. Others are neither here nor there. But there are amendments to the Evidence Act, the Registration of Persons Act, the National Intelligence Act, and the Prevention of Terrorism Act that cannot be allowed in modern Kenya.
Take the amendment to the Evidence Act. It repeals certain articles in the Constitution. It just doesn’t shift the burden of proof or the need for the State to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt. It creates a new process and procedure unknown to any civilised legal regime.
The State simply decides that certain issues are pre-proven before the trial, and bingo the trial court sentences the accused. The mere service by the prosecution of a notice in advance that certain issues are out of bounds during the trial is enough to imprison the accused! This process of summary trials without calling witnesses is borrowed from military trials in North Korea!
The Registration of Persons Act has been fundamentally amended. The amendments purport to repeal the Constitution. The new amendments are designed to deal with historic issues in northern Kenya and the Coast. In answer to these historic difficulties in the two regions, the amendments now authorise the government to undertake mass denationalisation.
Identification committees will be established that will re-screen certain communities en mass and then allow the director-general to cancel citizenship. We all know the mass screening of Kenya Somalis in 1988-89. A new phase of screening will be brought about in the new amendment.
In global terrorism, Kenya is one of the countries most hit, and especially by foreign terrorists. Kenyans have been supportive and continue to support the government’s efforts. But lately the Uhuru Kenyatta regime seems to have adopted a position that divides the country along sectarian and religious lines.
True, these acts of terrorism have been most pronounced in northern Kenya and at the Coast. But it is wrong for the regime to legislate laws that are community and religious specific. The prevention of Terrorism Act and the National Service Intelligence Act bring profound amendments.
A literal reading of the new amendments clearly authorises extra-judicial killing by security agents! This is not my word. Read for yourselves the amendments!
Issues like radicalisation, certain Islamic literature, mosque management, and religious sermons are now the subject of certain criminal sanctions as determined by the police. Freedom of speech and certain political views have also been criminalised.
It is no exaggeration that the Security Bill presents one of the most audacious attempts by the state to frighten, choke and muzzle citizenry anywhere in the world.
Senior Counsel Ahmednasir Abdullahi is the publisher of Nairobi Law Monthly