Gov’t Now Proposes Legislation To Control Protests, Petitions

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.

CS Kindiki said the government seeks to outline the duty of public agencies and institutions to set aside a zone for persons who wish to present petitions to public authorities, as well as the duty of organizers of assemblies, demonstrations, pickets and petitions to provide the hours, routes and other relevant information to assist law enforcement agencies to escort them and provide them with security.

Consent requirements from persons whose activities are likely to be affected by assemblers, demonstrators, picketers and petitioners; as well as obligations of the organizers of such activities are other issues the government also seeks to legislate.

Kindiki said this is to ensure that the activities remain peaceful, unarmed and generally within the law including compliance with the duty not to infringe on the rights of others.

Other areas are limitations on the number of assemblers, demonstrators, picketers and petitioners at any particular occasion; the responsibility for clean-up costs; and responsibility for, and payment of, damages to those harmed by activities of assemblers, demonstrators, picketers or petitioners.

The Interior CS said while every Kenyan has a right to demonstrate, picket and petition, non-demonstrators and third parties enjoy equal rights and freedoms during these activities since their fundamental rights and freedoms are not suspended during such activities.

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

“Accordingly, law enforcement agencies shall not tolerate the reported plans to repeat the violent, chaotic and economically disruptive protests that took place in Nairobi and Kisumu on 20th March 2023 whatsoever.”

Kindiki’s announcement came hours ahead of Monday’s demonstration, which opposition leader Raila Odinga maintains will be peaceful.

It also follows chaotic scenes during last Monday’s protest in Nairobi and Kisumu, where several people were injured, one shot dead and property destroyed in the city centre.

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