By Dann Mwangi
In the recent past, we have faced terror attacks that continue to claim lives of innocent Kenyans and destroy property. These attacks, caused by the Al Shabaab group and its elements must not be allowed to continue.
The group is attacking our national sovereignty, statehood and integrity and the need to vigorously fight it is critical since without peace and stability in Kenya, it will no longer be business as usual.
In addition, these attacks have made Western powers to irrationally impose travel bans on Kenya, which have great repercussions on our economy and tourism industry. Further, no serious foreign investors will invest in Kenya if terrorism continues as security of doing business is not guaranteed.
In this regard, we must make concerted efforts to fight terrorism and since having comprehensive law is one of the measures of combating terrorism, there is need to interrogate the lies and misinterpretations that have been peddled by people who are against The Prevention of Terrorism Bill 2012.
First, a section of Muslim leaders have openly supported the Bill whereas others have opposed it. In opposing the Bill, some leaders have stated that we have adequate laws in our Penal Code to fight terrorism although this is not true.
Terrorism is no longer a municipal crime and has never been and is actually classified as an international crime and therefore a comprehensive law to prevent it cannot be understated.
In fact, during the United Nations led Diplomatic Plenipotentiaries that gave birth to the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC), terrorism was deeply supported by sections of the delegates to be officially classified as an international crime and that the ICC would have jurisdiction on all acts of terrorism.
With the recent rise of global terrorism, there is in fact the need for the Assembly of State Parties to the ICC to reconsider enacting terrorism as an international crime. Secondly, persons opposed to the Bill have stated that it targets the Muslim community while they know very well our Constitution does not allow any law or policy that is discriminatory on religious grounds.
Section 27 (4) of the Constitution bars discrimination on the basis of religion, belief or even dress and therefore if such a Bill that is discriminatory is passed by Parliament, Section 2 (4) of the Constitution would declare such an Act of Parliament null and void if anyone petitions the Court to do so.
Further, the President would be obliged by Section 131 (2) of the Constitution to defend the rights of Muslims by not assenting to that Bill. In addition, the recent terror attacks in the country have dispelled the notion that terrorists are Muslims.
The first Kenyan to be successfully prosecuted and convicted for terrorism in Kenya, Elgiva Bwire is not a Muslim. Therefore, it is wrong for a section of the Muslim leaders to mislead the public that the Bill is targeting Muslims.
Thirdly, opposition to this Bill on grounds that it will contravene the first generation of human rights safeguarded by Chapter Four of the Constitution is incorrect. The Suppression of Terrorism Bill 2003 was drafted during the old constitutional and legal order where human rights were not well safeguarded but the 2012 Bill is quite sensitive of human rights.