NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 2 – The Law Society of Kenya now says police summons issued to the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) Secretary General Wilson Sossion are illegal.
LSK Chairman Eric Mutua said that the summons amount to intimidation of a trade unionist in contravention of the Constitution.
“Mr Sossion speaks for and acts in the interests of a trade union in line with Article 41 of the Constitution,” Mutua said.
He said that the actions of Sossion are guaranteed under the Constitution and summoning him is a violation of constitutional rights on labour relations.
Detectives at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) summoned Sossion for allegedly inciting teachers assigned to Northeastern Kenya not to return to work over insecurity.
On Monday, the teachers demanding to be transferred from Northeastern Kenya over insecurity camped outside the CID headquarters in solidarity with their Secretary General.
The teachers led by KNUT Chairman Mudzo Nzili said they fully supported Sossion, who reported to the CID headquarters as directed.
The Teachers Service Commission had given the teachers up to February 2 to report to their workstations or face the sack.
LSK however said: “The police summons violate the freedom of expression provided for under Article 33 of the Constitution.”
The LSK chairman said that the ideal situation was for Sossion to approach court seeking a declaration that the summons is illegal.
“However, having elected to obey the summons, Sossion should opt to keep quiet and not to answer any questions relating to labour practise,” Mutua said.
He said that the police should not be allowed to invoke laws for purposes of intimidation or stifle freedoms and rights guaranteed by law.
“This is especially so given that the government has introduced draconian security laws in the name of the Security Laws (Amendment) Act 2014,” Mutua said.
He said that Section 52 of the National Police Service Act, 2011 grants authority to the police to issue summons, in writing, to any person requiring them to appear or attend before a police station for purposes of assisting in investigations.
“There must be compelling and reasonable grounds which informs the police to make a decision to summon a person. Lack of such adequate reason renders the act by the police illegal and harassment,” Mutua said.
There are constitutional and statutory limitations to the powers to and the police should not violate any right under the Bills of Rights as guaranteed in the Constitution or under the Criminal Procedure Code in respect of the rights of citizens, a suspect or witness.
“A person summoned has a right to keep quiet and not to answer any question that they deem inappropriate, irrelevant or incriminating,” Mutua said.