, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 28 – Muslim leaders are now demanding the amendment of key clauses in the Prevention of Terrorism Bill 2012 for them to support it fully.
Among the three key clauses they want amended is the definition of terrorism as outlined in the Bill to ensure security forces do not end up harassing people in the name of fighting terror.
“Any act that intimidates the public or a section of the public is considered an act of terrorism, it is in our view that the definition (be) redefined to include specific activities,” Director General of the Association of Muslim Organisations in Kenya Fazul Mahamed said when they presented a memorandum to the Internal Security Ministry.
The group of leaders also wants the Bill to guarantee the respect of human rights to terror suspects in the country.
“The suspects must be guaranteed representation. None of their basic rights should be infringed,” Mahamed said.
The group said it worried about the clause in the Bill that gives powers to the security forces to tap communication of suspected terrorists.
“This may be abused and misused,” they said.
Internal Security Permanent Secretary Mutea Iringo assured the Muslim leaders that some of their concerns will be addressed but stressed that the new Constitution is clear on how police should treat suspects in custody.
“We will definitely take into consideration some of the issues you have raised, but others are already catered for in the new Constitution.”
The Bill which was introduced in Parliament for the first time in 2003 was later withdrawn after stakeholders, including a section of Muslims, criticised it.
Among others, the Bill states that terrorists will be locked up in jail for life and outlines tougher penalties for people found supporting or associating themselves with terrorists and their activities.
It outlines actions the law enforcement agencies should take on a person or persons suspected to be terrorists or any such group, including the way they should be arrested, detained and eventually arraigned in court.
Under the new Bill, terrorist suspects will not be mistreated or humiliated by the police, or kept in cells past the required 24-hour period, unless it is otherwise declared by a court of law.
Unlike, the current provisions of the penal code, the new Bill states that courts may receive in evidence anything including information obtained from the government or institution or agency of a foreign State or from an international organisation that in the opinion of the court is reliable and relevant.
Those who commit terrorist acts that causes death of a person shall on conviction be liable to imprisonment for life.
A person or persons who provides or collects, by any means directly or indirectly any funds intending, knowing or having reasonable grounds to believe that the funds may be used in full or in part to carry out a terrorist act shall be liable for an imprisonment term not less than seven years and more than 14 years upon conviction.