, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 15 – National Counter Terrorism Centre Director Ambassador Martin Kimani says security agencies are now legally empowered to fight terror than before, following the enactment of two key laws last year.
Though the threat of terror remains, Kimani says the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the Security Amendment Act have helped police deal with cases of terror effectively.
He says despite the said laws being stringent, Kenyans have not been deprived of their rights.
“Globally, established democracies are limiting their civil liberties to fight terrorism. In Kenya we’ve gone the opposite way, the Kenyan people have decided we are going to strengthen our democracy and we are also going to fight terrorism,” he said.
“We are bringing Kenya and the region finest minds to bear on this problem.”
The Al-Qaeda linked Somalia militia Al Shabaab continues to pose a major security threat in the country, but Kimani says the police must now act firmly as per the law.
“Al Shabaab and Al-Qaeda have what they say and what they do, but there is a very big gap in what they do and what they say,” he pointed out.
He was speaking during a workshop on Countering Violent Extremism in Kenya and Africa on Friday, where action driven policies are expected to be derived.
African Policy Institute Chief Executive Officer Prof Peter Kagwanja cited inequality, historical grievances and marginalization as some of the factors leading to extremism, which lead to terrorism.
“Where there are grievances whether legitimate or perceived, terrorist exploit those,” he cautioned. “Such grievances may range on inequalities, economic opportunities….sometime they be legitimate and need to be addressed.”
He urged the government to incorporate nation building as part of fighting terrorism.
“Inclusion is a key issue in the society. Perception of inclusion will also contribute greatly to countering violent extremism,” he said.
Even with the threat, Senior Human Rights Adviser at the Office of the UN resident and humanitarian coordinator Marcella Favretto cautioned that the country, “must introduce measures and policies which are fully compliant with human rights.”
“Lessons learnt all over the world shows that effective and sustainable measures to counter terrorism must be firmly grounded on human rights.”
Violent extremism and radicalization of youths, remains a major challenge in the country as hundreds of youths continues being lured into joining terror groups.