NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 11 – Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi was on Thursday afternoon expected rule on the constitutionality of the Security Laws (Amendment) Bill 2014 after members raised questions over whether the law met the constitutional threshold.
Several Opposition legislators led by Suba MP John Mbadi blocked the commencement of debate on the Bill saying it not only curtailed the Bill of Rights, but that it did not meet the constitutional threshold as it had only been subjected to one day of public participation, yet it was supposed to have undergone three days according to an advertisement through the office of the Clerk of the National Assembly.
Ol Jororok MP John Waiganjo on his part said the Bill needed to be subjected to scrutiny by other committees to get their input as they were also involved in the process of formulating the proposals.
Budalangi’ MP Ababu Namwamba reiterated Mbadi’s sentiments while also posing the question of the role of Senate as the matter directly affected counties, an issue that had also been raised by a section of CORD legislators who said the Bill must have the input of the Senate.
“You cannot go and debate matters security without going to the House that is constitutionally vested with the authority to defend and protect devolution and counties,” Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula said on Wednesday.
CORD Senators have since threatened to move to court to block the proposed amendments to the law.
“Any attempt to undermine the Bill of Rights will be resisted including going to defend the provisions in the Constitution in courts of law,” warned Wetangula.
“I think we are bringing the law relating to sedition through the back door… if you look at this Bill, it’s not only seeking to change our way of life, it is also trying to erode the democratic space established and donated by the Constitution and more so Article 19,” Siaya Senator James Orengo added.
Another dissenting opinion is from Governors.
While addressing journalists on Wednesday, Council of Governors chairman Isaac Ruto dismissed the proposed amendments saying the problem with the country’s security was not law related, further urging the government to consult with them on matters security as they were better placed to disseminate information to and from the people on the ground.
“Draconian laws will not improve the already bad security situation in the country. The proposed amendments can only create more dissent from the people,” said Ruto.
Key proposals in the Bill include giving the National Intelligence Service (NIS) power to arrest, detain and interrogate suspected terrorists, withholding of bail if the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) makes such proposals, the removal of security of tenure for the Inspector General of Police, the deputies and also the Director of Criminal Investigation thereby giving the President the power to appoint and allowing the admissibility of digital photographs in court, the prosecution and arrest of person(s) who abuse the freedom of expression among others.