Kenya democracy is on the brink of collapse, because … of democracy.
Facing imprisonment if the bill in Parliament he is criticizing is passed, popular Kenyan journalist, Kwame Owino, wrote today that Kenyan society “is bound for a democratic recession, with the possibility that its constitutional journey will come to an abrupt and painful stop.”
At immediate issue is a Security Bill that is so draconian if passed that if will effectively stop debate in the Parliament that passes it.
This afternoon Parliament grew so disruptive that fist-fights broke out, media cameras were smashed and the police ordered to surround the building.
“The changes are retrogressive and their cumulative effect could return Kenya to the police state of the 1980s and 90s and reverse gains made in protecting human rights,” Amnesty International Regional Director told local media.
Human Rights Watch said the Security Bill would “limit the rights of arrested and accused people, and restrict freedoms of expression and assembly.”
The bill’s details include holding “terrorism suspects … without charge for 360 days, compel landlords to provide information about their tenants and punish media organisations for printing material that is “likely to cause fear or alarm”.”
This is not a new development. There are already a series of horrible new laws, particularly against free speech, that this Parliament has already passed.
Bloggers around the country are being brought in by police for “impolite” or “disrespectful” remarks.
One of Kenya’s most political and followed tweeters, Robert Alai, was yesterday released on $2,000 bail and will be tried for having tweeted that Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta is an “adolescent president”.
Here’s the thing:
The reason that Kenyatta had the new Security Law introduced (or more correctly, many draconian amendments to the proposed law) is because of terrorism, mostly in Kenya’s far northeastern provinces which are adjacent Somalia.
Kenya with the aid and abetting probably of America invaded Somalia in October, 2011, and remains as an occupier. Somalia has achieved some peace and stability for the first time in more than a generation as a result, but Kenya has suffered terrorist retribution.
Kenyatta’s slow but methodical increase in security measures has seemed to work in stemming what had been a growing increase in terrorism.
Terror attacks in Nairobi, for example, happening last year at nearly one per month, are now rare.
But the cost of this has truly been the democratic rights protected by its fabulous young constitution.
It’s fair to surmise that every new tourist who comes to Kenya because of its new security sends an additional Robert Alai to jail… if the new laws work.
I don’t think they will. They didn’t in America. The Patriot Act did little to protect us. Under the Patriot Act a bevy of new terrorist attempts came to the surface, including the shoe-boot and underwear-pants bombers, the cargo planes and much more.
Not until we backed off draconian measures like the Patriot Act, began ending the wars of retribution in Afghanistan and Iraq, did our own security truly improve. That is if you exclude Sandy-Hook, the Black Knight bombing and maverick terrorists like the Boston Marathon bombers.
My point exactly. What is security? Three thousand people and the exponent of their families were seriously hurt by 9/11. How many in the exponential pool of marathon runners, parents of grade schoolers and movie goers have been hurt by domestic terrorism?
There is real equivalence, here, and the Patriot Act probably did more to increase this aggregate terrorism than it did to reduce it.
Once a power center like a government gets it into their noggin that they should fight terrorism, they begin to think they should fight until they win.
That is the recipe for certain defeat. Terrorism cannot be defeated. It has existed forever and it will forever exist.
European nations are the best examples of how to live with and manage terrorism.
America after 9/11 … and now Kenya, are about the worst examples out there.
Shape up, Kenya. There’s still time.
A police state may be on the way. The last thing Kenya or any other struggling African democracy needs…