Gov’t Now Proposes Legislation To Control Protests, Petitions

by Eagle Reporter

President William Ruto

The government seeks to introduce legislation governing demonstrations, pickets, and petitions in the country.

This is in line with the bi-weekly anti-government demonstrations the opposition has called to pressure President William Ruto’s administration to address its concerns.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki said on Sunday that the government shall, through the parliament, introduce subsidiary legislation in the form of regulations pursuant to the Public Order Act and the Statutory Instruments Act.

Kindiki said the legislation will provide for legal action around assemblies, demonstrations, pickets, and petitions; including notification procedures; duties of security agencies to protect the rights of those participating, and demarcation of zones for such activities.

Kindiki raised concerns about violence and economic disruptions caused by the demonstrators, specifically during the March 20, Azimio protests.

This comes as Azimio is set to have demonstrations on Monday and Thursday.

“Presently, it is not feasible for security organs to allow masses of people to roam streets and neighborhoods of their choice carrying stones and other offensive weapons while chanting political slogans and disrupting the daily activities of others,” Kindiki said.

In a notice, the CS proposed ten changes to the Mass Action Law that will see little disruptions to non-protestors.
Article 37 of the Kenyan Constitution grants a right to the citizens to assemble, picket, and petition.

The judiciary has had interpretations concerning the Article.

The previous interpretation was in a case between Ngujiri Wambugu Versus the Inspector General of Police, The CS Interior, and the Attorney General.

In the court’s interpretation, the demonstration is supposed to be peaceful, and the protestors are unarmed.

The court said if the demonstrators are armed with any form of weapon including stones or other forms of weapons, the security agencies are obliged to stop the demonstrations immediately.

Further, it indicated that the non-protestors have a right to enjoy their freedom; thus, the demonstrators should not cross the line to harm them.

Kindiki on March 26 proposed that the notification procedure should be amended.

He said that there should be changes in the duties of the security agencies to protect those participating in the assembly, demonstration, picketing o petition.

According to him, public agencies should be the ones to identify and set aside zones for those protesting.

He proposed that the duties of the organizers of the assembly be revisited, according to him, they should provide hours, routes, and other relevant information to assist law enforcement agencies to provide them with security.

Additionally, people likely to be affected by the demonstrations should be engage fully to have their consent.

Further, Kindiki said there should be a limitation on the number of assemblers, demonstrators, and petitioners on any occasion.

The clean-up cost and repayment of damages are also matters of concern.

He said that the security agencies will not tolerate a repeat of the violent and economic disruption as witnessed on March 20.

Azimio leaders have since insisted they will hold peaceful demonstrations across the country.

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