Kenya: Concern over harassment of civil society organisations

Kenya: Concern over harassment of civil society organisations - Civic Space

ARTICLE 19 is gravely concerned at the harassment and intimidation of civil society organisations(CSOs) by state officials, especially those that monitor security agencies’ operations. This has included the freezing of accounts, seizure of records and listing of Haki Africa and Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI) as terrorist organisations.

“ARTICLE 19 reiterates that Haki Africa and MUHURI are well known and respected organisations that openly work with the community, the state and other international players to among other things stop extra-judicial executions and to advocate for lawful interventions against terrorism and radicalization. We therefore do not see a justification for the continued attacksother than seeking to silence them as they relentlessly speak truth to the state “says Henry Maina, ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa Regional Director.

We are concerned that the Haki Africa and MUHURI were not afforded a chance to clear their names; instead they were capriciously lumped into a list of 85 entities that has advertently put the two organisations in the same company as Al Queda, Boko Haram and ISIS. We note that the Prevention of Terrorism Act provides that the Inspector-General shall afford the affected entity an opportunity to demonstrate why it should not be declared as a specified entity, yet the two organisations only learned of the government action through the Kenya Gazette.

ARTICLE 19 supports the government’s effort to counter violent extremism. However, we consider the listing of Haki Africa and MUHURI to be a knee jerk reaction designed to silence and intimidate CSOs who deal with governance issues in Kenya.

The government of Kenya must be alive to the fact that counter-terrorism can only succeed if citizens, civil society and the government work together to counter violent extremism and radicalization.

ARTICLE 19 notes that Haki Africa and MUHURI are important players in fighting radicalization in Kenya, especially in the coastal region, and therefore, urge the government to unconditionally and immediately remove the two organisations from the terrorism list and the unfreezing of their accounts to enable the organisations to carry on with their much needed programmes.

While acknowledging that the government of Kenya must act to protect its citizens from terrorist threats, the State’s actions must be appropriate and without excess.As part of Kenya’s duty to protect individuals within its borders, all measures taken to combat terrorism must themselves also comply with Kenya’s obligations under international law because upholding human rights is not merely compatible with successful counter-terrorism strategy. It is an essential.

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For more media interviews please contact: Henry Maina, ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa; Email: henry@article19.org or call +254 +254 727 862230