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Bloggers wary of illegal arrests during pandemic

Wednesday June 03 2020
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In March, the court dismissed the suit challenging the implementation of the computer misuse and cybercrimes law terming it as unwarranted. FILE PHOTO

By MAUREEN KAKAH

The Bloggers Association of Kenya (Bake) wants the High Court decision on cybercrime law suspended in its bid to spare Kenyans from unlawful arrest, harassment and prosecution during Covid-19 pandemic.

In March, the court dismissed the suit challenging the implementation of the computer misuse and cybercrimes law terming it as unwarranted.

However, Bake in its appeal, now claims that Kenyans are susceptible to unnecessary arrests, harassment as well as prosecution during the pandemic for publishing information related to the illness.

According to the association, bloggers, activists, whistle blowers and journalists will be discouraged from publishing information on suspected violation of the Ministry of Health Covid-19 guidelines with grave public consequences.

Bake argues that it is ironical that the ministry has issued a toll free SMS number, 988, urging the public to anonymously report anyone who is supposed to be on quarantine but is not or any suspected case that is not yet reported.

“The arrest, arraignment and prosecution for Covid-19 related publications under the statute is likely to have a chilling effect on the public,” said Bake’s lawyer Ochieng Dudley.

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High Court judge James Makau ruled that the case by Bake was unwarranted hence lifted suspensions on sections of the disputed law which had been suspended earlier by Justices Enoch Chacha Mwita and Wilfrida Okwany.

Bake argues that the disputed law violates freedom of expression, right to privacy, property and fair hearing while targeting internet users.

The State through Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai argues that the arrests and prosecution are justified.

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