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Kenyan Court Suspends Parts of Controversial Anti-Terrorism Law

© Fotolia / Natalia PushchinaKenya's capital Nairobi
Kenya's capital Nairobi - Sputnik International
Kenya’s top court suspended eight clauses of a controversial new national security law, passed in a bid to tackle al-Shabab insurgency in the country.

MOSCOW, January 2 (Sputnik) – Kenya’s High Court Judge George Odunga suspended eight parts of a controversial anti-terrorist law, adopted last month following a rise in al-Shabab insurgency, the Associated Press reports.

The parts of the new legislation, including a 150,000 cap on immigrants, will remain suspended until a three-judge panel decides whether they limit individual freedoms, according to the news agency.

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"In respect to … limiting the numbers of refugees to a maximum of 150,000… such amendments contravene international conventions and instruments," Odunga said, as quoted by AFP.

The government has to take all legal steps "to nip acts of terrorism in the bud, and such measures ought to be supported by Kenyans of all walks of life," Odunga said in his ruling, as quoted by Reuters. "Such moves, however, must pass constitutional and legal muster," he added.

Under the new law, authorities could sentence journalists to three years in prison or a fine of $55,000 if they publish "insulting, threatening, or inciting material or images of dead or injured persons which are likely to cause fear and alarm to the general public" or "any information which undermines investigations or security operations," as quoted by AFP. This clause has been suspended.

Raila Odinga, Kenya’s opposition leader, said the ruling "marks a great day for Kenya," as quoted by AFP. Odinga spearheaded the legal challenge to the new security law.

"Everybody feared that we were going back to those dark days of torture and dictatorship," Odinga stated. "What has been done today is very historic. You cannot compromise the security of Kenyans," he added.

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Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta signed the law last month after a heated discussion in the parliament, which turned into a brawl.

Kenyan authorities are under pressure to tighten security in the country following a rise in al-Shabab insurgency, especially a 2013 terrorist attack on a shopping mall in Nairobi, which left 67 people dead. In December, Kenyatta replaced the interior minister and police chief in a bid to address the issue.

Al-Shabab claims it acts in retaliation for Kenya’s involvement in fighting the al-Qaida-affiliated group in neighboring Somalia.

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