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Kenyan anti-terror law challenged in court

[JURIST] Kenya's opposition coalition, including former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, filed suit on Tuesday challenging the nation's new anti-terrorism law [JURIST report]. The law, signed by President Uhuru Kenyatta [BBC profile] last Thursday, allows security services to detain suspected criminals without charge for up to 360 days and allows persecution of media members for publishing material likely to cause fear or alarm. Supporters of the measure argue the law mirrors US anti-terrorism measures and equips the government with the ability to repel terror attacks [UN report], which have resulted in 64 deaths in just the last month. The opposition argues the law risks turning Kenya into a dictatorship, and that a number of provisions in the bill violate constitutional rights. "Those who conceived these new laws and rushed them through the National Assembly did so in the hope that Kenyans would be too busy enjoying the [Christmas] season to notice the evil being plotted by their leaders," said [Reuters report] Odinga. The court asked the involved parties to return on Wednesday, declining to immediately suspend the legislation.

Kenya has been involved in various controversial issues over the past year. In August Kenya's parliament passed a law [JURIST report] 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 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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