, NAIROBI, Kenya Mar 24 – The National Civil Society Congress has denounced a directive by the Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo, banning public demonstrations and gatherings, arguing that it is unconstitutional.
Addressing the media in Nairobi on Sunday, the president of the congress Morris Odhiambo said that the pronouncement violates article 37 of the constitution which guarantees peaceful assembly and picketing.
“This action is akin to killing a mosquito with a hammer. The Supreme Court has already made a ruling on this matter and the parties in the case have agreed to abide by that decision,” he said.
He said that the courts ruled that in order for the police to impose any limitation to the freedom of assembly, they must demonstrate to the court the risk that any proposed assembly poses to public safety or security.
Odhiambo also noted that Inspector General of Police has banned the public from the precincts of the Supreme Court during petition hearings starting on Monday and pointed out that it is not the duty of Kimaiyo to regulate access to the courts.
“The ability of the public to access the court is a key component of a fair and free judicial process. Furthermore, the Judiciary has already made arrangements to facilitate public access to the proceedings of the presidential election petitions through the putting up of giant television screens outside the court,” he explained.
Odhiambo said that hard won freedom should not be abrogated by any person or institution, maintaining that institutions must uphold the freedoms and rights of all Kenyans.
“We cannot go back to the old days of repression, Kenyans must not be allowed to become a police state again,” he said.