[JURIST] The High Court of Kenya [official website] on Friday suspended [judgment] eight sections of the controversial new anti-terrorism law until a legal challenge by the opposition is heard by the court. The Security Laws (Amendment) Act of 2014 [text, PDF], signed by President Uhuru Kenyatta [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], was passed by the Kenyan Parliament two weeks ago and was promptly challenged [JURIST reports] on free speech and civil liberties grounds. The suspended sections include the clause allowing media figures to be prosecuted if they publish materials that would cause public fear or alarm and the clause permitting the National Intelligence Service to “enter any place or obtain access to anything” during authorized efforts to neutralize national terror threats. Justice George Odunga [official profile] suspended these sections because they raise “substantial questions of law” under clause 3(b) and (d) of Article 165 of the Kenyan Constitution [text], which give the High Court the jurisdiction to determine if a freedom in the Bill of Rights has been violated and to hear any question regarding the interpretation of the constitution.
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.