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Western envoys urge Kenya to review anti-terror bill

18 December 2014, 09:20

Nairobi - Nine Western envoys on Wednesday called on Kenya to review the proposed anti-terrorism bill which aims to enhance surveillance on terrorists in the East African nation.

In a joint statement issued in Nairobi, the envoys from U.S., Britain, Canada, Sweden, France, Denmark, Netherlands and Australia expressed their support for Kenya in the fight to defeat Al-Shabaab militants and terrorism.

"We encourage Kenya's elected officials to take the time to review carefully the bill now before the National Assembly and to consult broadly to build consensus," the envoys said.

The government last week tabled in Parliament the Security Laws Bill 2014, which contains a wide array of amendments to 21 laws and could be adopted by parliament in the coming days.

The proposed anti-terror bill has generated heated debates among Kenyans and international community with critics suggesting that the bill infringes on many basic rights and freedoms protected in Kenya's constitution and international human rights law. However, the government has defended it and instructed its lawmakers to pass the bill.

Kenya has faced increased attacks targeting civilians since October 2011, when its troops entered Somalia in the context of military operations against Al-Shabaab.

Also read: Parliament to vote on amendments meant to improve security

The response of the Kenyan security forces to these attacks has been to conduct operations that have resulted in numerous human rights violations in Nairobi, on the coast, and in the North Eastern province bordering Somalia.

In the statement, the Western envoys said protecting Kenya's constitution and upholding civil liberties and democracy are among the most effective ways to bolster security.

"In light of Al-Shabaab's attacks and ongoing threats, we welcome the effort by the government of Kenya to revise and update the country's security legislation. It is important that the legislation, while strengthening security, respects human rights and international obligations," the statement said.

The Western envoys also urged Kenya to continue implementing broader reforms to strengthen its security services, including their ability to collaborate across agency lines and carry out operations with full respect for human rights and the rule of law.

The envoys underscored their commitment to work with the government and people of Kenya to meet this country's challenges, including those related to security. "We are committed to our friendship and to assisting Kenya as it works to build a more secure and prosperous nation," they said.

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- Xinhua


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