NAIROBI, Kenya Feb 11 – Members of the National Assembly have unanimously rejected a proposed law that would have pushed for compensation for victims and property lost or destroyed during violent protests.
Ruiru MP Simon King’ara was at pains on Thursday to demonstrate that his amendments to the Public Order Amendment Bill do not infringe on national constitutional values and international human right standards.
“I still feel that in-as-much-as you would want to picket there should be some responsibility taken by the organisers of these protests. Since I was born I have seen politicians, I have seen demonstrations, I have seen suffering, I have seen loss of life, and I picked it from that, so there was no ill-feeling,” he said in his closing remarks before the Bill was shot-down.
He cited a report which was released by the Kenya Private Sector Alliance in 2017 that showed that Kenyans property worth billions in revenue due to elections events that followed.
However, MPs Otiende Amollo (Rarieda), Johana Ngeno (Emurua Dikirr), Gitonga Murugara (Tharaka), and Peter Kaluma (Homa Bay Town) questioned the legality of the Bill noting that it contains provisions that are already adequately provided for in the penal code and civil litigation.
“These amendments are such that in my respectful opinion, ought to be declared unlawful and should be killed now without detaining the House,” the Rarieda MP stated.
Amollo and Murugara noted that King’ara’s amendment would have the effect of curtailing the right for members of the public to demonstrate and picket as provided for in the Constitution.
Murugara added: “This is a bad law, it’s a bad proposal. It should not have been brought here in the first place,” he sai explained that “It is illegal because it contravenes the principles of legality on which all the laws are based when they’re being made or being passed by this House.”
Ng’eno and Kaluma said it was the responsibility of the police ensure that there is peace and order.
“Remember we had the Security Laws, which many of us fought. I stood against the introduction of that law in this House. But today that law which Members of Parliament threw water on themselves and defended vehemently has come to haunt them,” said Ngeno.
Only Nominated MP David Sankok supported the Bill noting that it made a provision for organisers of public meetings or public processions leading to loss of property, life or earnings to take responsibility and compensate the affected persons.
“We misuse our rights of demonstration and picketing and that is why I support this particular bill so that we can bring public order in our rejection of election. Doctors have been demonstrating, no property has been destroyed. Nurses and teachers have been on the street and there has not been any destruction of property or loss of lives,” said Sankok stated.
According to the proposed law, where a person is convicted of an offense the court may order, besides the sentence imposed, that the organiser compensates the affected persons.
“A person who while at a public meeting or public procession causes grievous harm, damage to property or loss of earnings, shall be liable upon conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six years or to a fine not exceeding one hundred thousand shillings, or both,” the Bill reads.