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Kenya parliament approves controversial anti-terrorism law

[JURIST] Kenya's parliament [official website] on Thursday passed a sweeping new anti-terrorism law after some of its members engaged [YouTube video] in a shoving match that led to blows being exchanged. Those opposed to the bill, citing violations of free speech and other civil liberties, shouted, threw water, and even threw books at the Speaker in protest of the bill. The bill allows security services to detain suspected criminals without charging them for up to 360 days, allows media members to be persecuted for publishing material that is likely to cause fear or alarm, and enables a domestic spy force to carry out secret operations. President Uhuru Kenyatta [BBC profile, JURIST news archive] has backed the bill due to increased pressure to improve security in the country after a 2013 terrorist attack [BBC report] by Somali al Shabaab rebels that killed 67 people.

Kenya has been involved in various controversial issues over the past year. In August Kenya's parliament passed a law [JURIST report] on that will provide greater support to victims of human trafficking and will make it easier to secure convictions for perpetrators. Also in August Kenya's Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) carried out [JURIST report] a series of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in violation of international human rights laws, Human Rights Watch reported. In April Kenya's Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku announced [JURIST report] that Kenya deported 82 Somalis and rounded up hundreds of other undocumented immigrants in response to a series of attacks committed by Somali Militants since 2011.

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