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MUHURI demands damages after linked to terrorism

[MUHURI Lawyer Willis Otieno at Mombasa high court. Photo/ Davis Mbunga].

Human rights organisation Muslims for Human Rights-MUHURI has demanded special, aggravated, exemplary and punitive damages after the government linked it to terrorist group, Al-Shabaab in 2015.

The human rights lobby senior counsel Willis Otieno on his final submission at the Mombasa high court on Friday told the court that since linking the human rights lobby to terrorism was punitive, it needed punitive damages as remedy.

MUHURI sued the government for defamation.

“MUHURI incurred costs in a bid to clear their name. The aggravated damages is based on the nature of allegation made and terrorism is criminal offence globally,” Otieno said.

“MUHURI was named as terrorist sympathizers and it was sanctioned and bank accounts frozen without due diligence,” he added.

On April 7, 2015, MUHURI was among 85 human rights organisations, financial institutions and individuals blacklisted over alleged terror funding links, following the Garissa University College terror attack.

The massacre left 148 dead and 79 injured.

In November 12, 2015 the High Court revoked MUHURI freezing.

Inspector General of police Joseph Boinnet’s move to freeze the accounts was termed unconstitutional and violated the rights of MUHURI according to Judge Anyara  Emukhule.

Otieno said the state has not adduced proof of ‘reasonable and probable’ intelligence to court that made it link the NGO to Al-Shabaab.

[ From left; MUHURI Chairman Khelef Khalifa, Rapid response Officer Francis Auma and Field Officer Fredrick Okado. Photo/ Davis Mbunga].

“MUHURI and those associated with the rights group will suffer everlasting stigma,” noted Mr. Otieno.

“This court ought to conclude the record by correcting illegality and confers a decree that will display the association was unlawful and penalties and damages were awarded,” he noted.

“To casually associate a person to terrorism is grave injury,” added the senior counsel.

He said the Al-Shabaab link would ordinarily be supported by evidence.

During cross examination, Central Bank of Kenya Assistant Director in charge of Funds Supervision Matu Mugo admitted it lacked evidence when it froze MUHURI accounts.

Otieno told the court that there was no evidence presented to support reasonable ground either in open court or undercover of confidentiality.”

“No such list was present to warrant freezing of MUHURI accounts, no prior and adequate notice of administrative was given and statements of reasons were never supplied,” the lawyer said.

He told the court that MUHURI could not pay salaries, files returns with KRA and make NSSF and NHIF deductions as well.

Attorney General lawyer Nguyo Wachira and his CBK counterparts

objected the award of damages.

Judge Dora Chepkwony said a notice of judgment will be issued within 14 days.