Home News CSO’s differ with high court on Prevention of Terrorism Act amendment

CSO’s differ with high court on Prevention of Terrorism Act amendment

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[Activists outside Mombasa law courts. Photo/Ahmed Omar].

A group comprising of 20 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) drawn from the coast have differed with a high court judgment that dismissed their petition challenging the amendments to the Prevention of Terrorism Act of 2012.

In their petition, the over 20 CSOs had argued that the National Assembly had, through the Miscellaneous Amendment of 2019, amended the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2012 to include “draconian provisions.”

The changes granted the National Counter Terrorism Act powers to regulate the operation of Civil Society Organisations and International Non-Governmental Organisations.

The amendments read in part; the centre (NCTC) shall be an approving and reporting institution for Civil Society Organisations and International Non-Governmental Organisations engaged in preventing and countering violent extremism and radicalization….”

In their petition, they had declared the amendments illegal and unconstitutional on the basis that it gave (NCTC) powers to regulate the operations of CSOs and International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGO).

The CSOs said the changes invited the NCTC to design their programme and their operations, which is the role of the NGOs Coordination Board.

They also argued there was no public participation in the changes.

However, in his ruling Judge Ogola said there was no violation of the constitution as indicated by the CSOs in their petition.

Appeal

Coast Civil Society Network Chairperson Zedekiah Adika expressed their dissatisfaction with the ruling, stating that they shall appeal the judgment.

“This petition was close to our heart because it intended to protect our civic space from attack by the state. We see this judgment as a continued process of curtailing civic voice by requiring Civil Society to report to an institution set to deal with terrorism, we respectfully differ with the findings,” said Mr Adika.

The battle

The CSOs raised concerns about deliberate refusal of national and county governments to obey court orders.

Adika said in the last three months the courts have issued very progressive directives to civil society fraternity.

In June 28, Justice Ogola ruled over petition 187 of 2018 ordering the county government of Mombasa, through Governor Hassan Joho, to set up the County Budget and Economic Forum (CBEF) in 90 days.

“Nothing has been done five months down the line, in fact, the dearth of institutional framework in Mombasa County has gotten worse, the county executive committee is not fully constituted,” said Adika.

He added, “Mombasa has no City Board, pursuant to the Urban Areas and Cities Act and the Sub County Administration Unit is yet to get to the village level as required.”

In another petition 39 of 2018, the Mombasa County government was directed to provide information to CSOs and petitioners concerning the Buxton Housing Project.

However, that is yet to be done yet the project is going on.

The matter was in court on Tuesday and will be mentioned again in February next year.

In another matter before court relating to the SGR monopolistic directive by the state, that is petition 159 of 2018 as consolidated with petition 201 of 2019, the High Court issued conservatory orders which elapsed on November 10.

They argued that the road transporters were yet to be given the green light as directed by the court to operate as earlier.

“In this kind of environment, the civil society cannot afford to be silenced, we will remain vigilant and do our work with utmost freedom enshrined in the constitution,” said Mr Adika.