17th September 2019
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New law to end NSS arbitrary arrests

Author: Emmanuel Akile | Published: 5 months ago

Some members of the public have welcomed the amended national security act, which once approved, will empower an independent body tasked with holding the security service accountable for violations.

On Tuesday, the National Constitutional Amendment Committee handed over the security acts to the government with the exception of the National Security Act.

In 2016, Amnesty International compiled a list of 35 people arbitrarily detained without charge or trial by the National Security Service.

The human rights group said some of the detainees had been held for close to two years, without access to lawyers and with very limited access to their families and the outside world. Some of them died in detention.

The latest cases are those of Businessman Kerbino Wol who spent about 11 months and political activist Peter Biar, with nearly 7 months in detention, before the NSS formally charged them recently.

“It ensures that the NSS is more accountable for their actions,” said Gichira Kibara, committee chairperson.

“Any arrests that are done, people are not kept incommunicado. There’s proper communication.”

NCAC Chairman Gichira Kibara [left] and Justice Minister P. Wanawila address the media in Juba on Tue, Apr 9, 2019
When approved, the Amended Act, which will be ready soon, also mandates a body that will be handling complaints from members of the public.

“We have put a complaints’ board made up of independent [individuals], where people who problem with the national security can go and complain,” Kibara added.

The act is expected to be presented to the minister of justice and constitutional affairs next week.

Reacting to this, some members of the public welcomed the amended national security act.

They said due to too many powers, the national security has been interfering with the work of police in the country.

“I don’t know exactly what involves the national security in all the operations. It seems the work of the police is being taken over by the national security,” asked John (not real name).

The national security personnel should be reduced so that other institutions like police can do their work, he added.

Another Eye Radio listener said: “The national security protect the territorial integrity of the nation, and the police are the one dealing with the affairs of the citizens. But these roles have been placed in the hand of the national security, which is not good. That’s wrong.”

The adjustment of the Acts is part of the amendment of the Transitional Constitution, 2011, to accommodate the new peace accord which demands amendments.

The National Constitutional Amendment Committee, chaired by Kibara, a Kenyan national, was established in line with the 2015 peace deal to spearhead constitutional amendments in the country.

The committee comprises fifteen members. They represent the government, SPLM-IO, Former Detainees and IGAD.

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