- Title: KENYA: SECURITY/VOTE Kenyan security law approved despite disruptions
- Date: 18th December 2014
- Summary: NAIROBI, KENYA (FILE - JULY 1, 2012) (REUTERS) ***WARNING CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** VARIOUS OF ATTACK VICTIMS ARRIVING FOR TREATMENT AMBULANCES LEAVING AIRPORT WITH ATTACK VICTIMS VARIOUS OF PUBLIC SERVICE VEHICLE THAT WAS ATTACKED INTERIOR OF VEHICLE DAMAGED VEHICLE VARIOUS OF POLICE EXAMINING VEHICLE
- Embargoed: 2nd January 2015 12:00
- Location: Kenya
- Country: Kenya
- Topics: General
- Reuters ID: LVA2UWW5CWYAAOVARX0UXH9VL535
- Story Text: EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS GRAPHIC MATERIAL
Kenya's parliament approved new anti-terrorism laws on Thursday (December 18) in the face of vocal protests by some opposition lawmakers who said the measures threaten civil liberties and free speech.
The new measures will allow suspects to be held without charge for 360 days rather than the current 90, compel landlords to provide information about their tenants and punish media organisations if they print material that is "likely to cause fear or alarm". The proposals do not define what qualifies as such material.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has faced mounting pressure to boost security since an attack by Somali al Shabaab insurgents in September 2013 on Nairobi's Westgate mall which left 67 people dead. Before the vote, he encouraged lawmakers to pass the amendments.
Journalists were barred from the final vote and television footage was discontinued during the voting session.
Kenyan opposition lawmakers shouted, sang and threw water and books in parliament.
Speaker Justin Muturi suspended the morning session twice after opposition legislators shouted him down.
Ruling party parliamentarians and opposition senators exchanged blows in the parliament's public gallery ahead of the final vote.
An opposition lawmaker poured water from a bottle over Deputy Speaker Joyce Laboso, who was reading out proposed changes to the existing security law.
When Muturi took over the reading of the proposals, opposition legislators jeered and hurled hard-cover books at him, prompting security guards to hold back MPs.
The speaker read each amendment to the bill while lawmakers from both sides of the house stood near him, voting by acclamation in chaotic scenes until the bill was approved.
Members of the opposition were not pleased with the result of the vote.
"We will certainly go to court to challenge the constitutionality of this purported law, because it is not a law, and really want to tell the government shame on you. We want to tell the leadership of parliament shame on you because today you have shamed the integrity, the dignity of the house and you have also assaulted the very soul of the constitution of the republic of Kenya. This war has not ended, this war only began. We will fight it on every front, in every arena, whether its on land, in the sea, in the air we, will engage this forces of impunity," said opposition MP Ababu Namwamba.
Earlier in the day, armed police arrested activists protesting against the new law outside the parliament building.
Nine foreign missions in Kenya, including those of the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Canada and Australia, said in a statement that they supported plans to improve security but said human rights should also be respected.
Kenya has become a target of Somali militant group al Shabaab as the Kenyan military pursues militants who have carried out attacks in the county. Kenya first sent troops into Somalia in October 2011.
Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the Westgate Mall attack and for attacks in the Lamu region in June and July in which at least 65 people died.
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