Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Suppression of Constitutional Rights Breeds Terrorists.

This year is turning out to be a very dangerous one for Kenyans. The escalating rate at which grenade attacks are occurring in the nation is not only alarming but repeatedly underscores the failings in the National Security policy of this government.  It’s an explosive new world and our security apparatus is moving at a snail’s pace in comparison to criminals whose murderous intentions seem rather unclear.
I am not going to point out the fact that surely by now a commensurate increase in resources for internal security forces while supplying resources for KDF in the war against Al-Shabaab would have naturally occurred if we indeed do have “Intelligence” services. 
Actually what I am most concerned about is our perceived enemy, who are yet to identify themselves.  Of course, the media, and politicians have quickly decided that these sustained attacks are done by terrorists. I agree, the attacks are terrifying, but terrorists tend to be a definitive group of offenders. For example, the one terrorist group we know that KDF is fighting is called Al-Shabaab. Funny enough, Al-Shabaab haven’t taken any responsibility for these terror attacks.  Not a peep, video, press release, tweet or status update about a single grenade attack in order to claim responsibility.
The fact that Al-Shabaab isn’t claiming responsibility should actually be reassuring really. We are winning the war against them, they are no longer effective. But because Al-Shabaab isn’t claiming responsibility, it’s even more worrying, because we don’t know who is doing these attacks. We do know this, whoever it is; they are organized, ruthless and seem to have a central arsenal of weaponry, given the devices they employ. We also know that they are criminals whom the internal security forces are having the damndest time tracing and arresting.
So what is the proposed remedy to this? Well, rather than increase the resources our police force requires to do the job of providing security across the country, the push by politicians is to enact the Suppression of Terrorism Bill 2003. As the Vice President blew the dust off this truly unconstitutional document and heralded it as the ultimate solution to the problem at hand, a logical fallacy gave birth to a paradigm which ultimately will result in a self-fulfilling reality.  

The fallacy being that terrorist activities require legislation beyond that which covers criminal activities; giving security apparatus extended and unlimited powers and jurisdiction and the paradigm being that terrorism is of such unique threat to national security that citizens are obliged to have their constitutional rights and privileges abused in the name of being kept safe.
Kenya is now moving into very dangerous waters with this bill. It’s no secret that the USA Patriot Act and the Anti-Terrorism Act of the United Kingdom gave the security agencies of these two countries extensive powers to pursue, prosecute and detain immigrants and suspects whether they were citizens of these two countries or not. It’s also not a secret that the actions of security and military forces from both the US and the UK have directly or indirectly created more potential terrorists and insurgents around the world due to the excessiveness and abusive nature of their actions. 
Why would Kenya seek to adopt similar legislation at this point in our fragile democracy? Lest we forget that our police forces are known for their human rights abuses already, that there are reports on the abuses by KDF forces in Somalia and that Kenya is not known for its due process when it comes to the judiciary and justice for victims and perpetrators. In fact, it is because of these failures that Kenya currently ranks 16th out of the top 20 countries in the world in the Failed State Index of 2012.
So now, in addition to being a failed state when it comes to the Judiciary, the state of security of our nation and our borders, we also wish to add to that pile of failures the denial of constitutional rights and freedoms by security forces. Each action to curtail freedoms of the citizenry by monitoring, arresting, detaining, seizing assets and removal of persons without charge is a nail in the coffin of democracy in Kenya. Each time such an end to democratic rights occur another “terrorist” is born. Because as they say, ‘one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist.’
It is of course completely ludicrous at this point for any group of people to thus claim that they or their community is being targeted by the Suppression of Terrorism Bill 2003, on the basis of religion or ethnicity. The nature of the bill is such that citizens’ rights will be oppressed and suppressed regardless of religion. Neither is religion used as a basis to act on suspected terrorists. In other words, just because you are Muslim doesn’t mean you will be targeted, and just because you are not a Muslim doesn’t mean you will not be targeted.  The bill is not about religious persecution, it’s about general persecution of everyone in the country.
Kenyans, let’s not allow paranoia to rule the day, lets actively protect our constitutional rights and privileges or we will end up with more terrorists and less freedom and no security.

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