MOMBASA, Kenya, Jul 9 – Some 25 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) at the Coast have given the National Assembly a one-week ultimatum to expunge part of a Miscellaneous Amendment Act that has given the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) more powers to control CSOs.
The Act, which was passed by the MPs recently, has amended the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) and given the NCTC more power to regulate all CSOs and international NGOs that are doing Counter Violence Extremism (CVE) work.
The Act states: “The Centre (NCTC) shall be an approving and reporting institution for all civil society organizations and international non-governmental organization engaged in preventing and countering extremism and radicalization through counter-messaging or public outreach, and disengagement and reintegration of radicalization individuals.”
Coast CSOs however said on Tuesday the mandate of NCTC, as established under Section 40 of Prevention of Terrorism Act, is to coordinate national counter-terrorism effort in order to detect, deter or disrupt terrorism acts and also develop data bases and strategies in assisting law enforcement agencies on prevention of terrorism.
They said NCTC is not mandated to control CSOs and NGOs.
The CSOs said they already report to the NGOs Coordination Board; therefore, the amendment is duplication of roles and NGOs will be forced to get approvals from two different state agencies.
CSOs comprising Haki Africa, Muslims for Human Rights, Human Rights Agenda and Manyatta Youth among others, said the new changes in the law undermine their work.
Haki Africa Executive Director Hussein Khalid said as CSOs their mandate is to operate devoid of government influence, control or manipulation.
“We want to maintain our independence. We are not ready to be controlled or manipulated by state agencies. We have developed policies and assisted government in many ways, we therefore, do not understand this mischief and mistrust by the NCTC,” said Khalid.
He said if NCTC is allowed to exercise the powers to control CSOs, the country will loose its democracy.
“We want the specific amendment touching on CSOs in the Miscellaneous Amendment Act to be expunged in totality because it adds more power to NCTC. We need to seriously look into these issues, so that we can take this country into the right path of democracy,” he said.
Yusuf Lule, the Executive Director of Human Rights Agenda (HURIA), said the amendment passed in the National Assembly is a big disappointment to the CSOs in the country.
“Barely two months ago, we presented our views on this law, but our calls have been ignored. It is very disappointing and this is back stabbing to CSOs that have been working with NCTC in developing policies,” said Lule.
Nichola Songora of Manyatta Youth CBO said they will be moving to court and also hold demonstration to oppose the new Act.
“This new law seeks to silence us as CSOs. We are therefore ready to move to court, to picket and hold demonstrations to have the amendments expunged,” said Songora.