Members of the civil society have criticized the government for intimidating its members, parts of the media, trade unions and independent constitutional offices.
In a press statement, The Civil Society Organizations Reference Group (CSORG) and the National Civil Society Congress (NCSC) blamed the government for harassing the civil society organizations in the name of fighting terrorism.
Their complains come months after the government de-registered several Non Governmental Organizations on claims that they were aiding terrorism. Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI) and Haki Africa were among those whose accounts were frozen.
Speaking in a past event, MUHURI Board chairman Khelef Khalifa cited witch hunt in the allegations saying:
“It all begun by us being linked to the Mombasa Republican Council, then terror, tax evasion and now we are being told we have not complied with the law.”
Through a social media campaign under #DefendingCSOs, #FreeHAKIandMUHURI, #ReleasePBOReport and #PBOActNOW, the CSOs went on Twitter to express their dissatisfaction with the government’s move.
Maskani Ya Taifa tweeted :
Today, civil society is facing serious threats across the globe, but in Kenya, this threat is increasing. #FreeHAKIandMUHURI
— Maskani Ya Taifa (@Maskani254) June 4, 2015
In the statement, the civil society organizations criticized the government for revoking the operationalization of the very organization that they had allowed its registration.
“It is also not in doubt that when the government issued MUHURI with a certificate of registration in 2008, it must have done sufficient due diligence on the organization, its history and objects for which it had been formed and satisfied itself that its application for registration had met all the legal requirements as provided in the relevant laws,” said the lobby group.
“The recent government letter to the boards of MUHURI, Haki Africa and the Agency for Peace and Development to “show cause why their organizations should not be de-registered” point to a well crafted and coordinated State operation not informed by the rule of law and other tenets of justice as protected under the Constitution but actuated by outright malice and witch hunt,” read the statement.
The organizations lamented that despite the current government being the first to operate under the Constitution of Kenya 2010 following an election, it still acted contrary to the very Constitution it should uphold. They added that there still was no evidence of why the NGOs were de-registered.
The only way to know a failed government is when it’s starts accusing NGOs of supporting TERROR without giving evidence #FreeHakiandMuhuri.
— Security Alerts (@InsecurityKE) June 3, 2015
The group further regretted that the NGO Coordination Board is yet to register Haki Africa, one year after the organization made the application.
“And as if these acts of intimidation, framing and unlawful harassment of the organizations are not enough, the government has gone as far as setting the Kenya Revenue Authority, Insurance companies and the Non-Governmental Organizations Board against the three human rights organizations,” read the statement.
In December last year, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced that the government had frozen the accounts of over 500 charity organizations, 15 of whom were accused of financing terrorism activities in the country.
Government has on its part maintained that the organizations de-registered have been funding terrorism. It has however failed to provide evidence linking them to terrorism. It appears to be a knee-jerk reaction following the Garissa University attack and the anger Kenyans reacted to not just the slow government’s response to the attack but also lack of adequate security to keep terrorists far from attacking innocent lives.