Court backs KDF deployment to deal with anti-Finance Bill protests

Court backs KDF deployment to deal with anti-Finance Bill protests
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In a landmark decision on Thursday, June 27, 2024, the High Court upheld the deployment of the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) in response to recent anti-Finance Bill protests.

Justice Lawrence Mugambi ruled that military intervention was necessary to protect the public and critical infrastructure.

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“The continuation of the military in assisting the police is necessary to preserve order, peace, and public safety, and protect critical infrastructure. It is upheld as in line with the provisions of the constitution and relevant statutes,” Justice Mugambi stated.

However, the judge directed the government to clearly define and publish the scope, duration, and areas of military intervention within two days to alleviate public fear and ensure public confidence in the protection of their liberties during the military engagement.

“The terms of engagement, duration of engagement, and areas of engagement must be clearly defined and gazetted within the next two days,” Mugambi ordered.

The judge also ruled that the court would retain the authority to review the deployment of KDF if any challenges arise regarding the military action.

“The court shall retain residual powers and remain open to receive and address any complaints of violations for the duration of the military intervention,” Mugambi added.

The ruling followed a petition filed by the Law Society of Kenya (LSK).

LSK President Faith Odhiambo cited Article 241 of the constitution, which allows KDF deployment only in emergencies or disasters and in cases of unrest.

Odhiambo argued that the government had not clarified whether the military presence in Nairobi was intended to address an emergency or civil unrest.

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“There has been no indication of unrest,” Odhiambo asserted, questioning the necessity of the military deployment.

The LSK contended that Defense Cabinet Secretary (CS) Aden Duale had issued a gazette notice authorizing the KDF deployment before securing parliamentary approval, thereby violating constitutional procedures.

The LSK maintained that the notice should have been issued within 24 hours after parliamentary approval, but the approval process began after the KDF had already been deployed.

The State defended its actions, asserting that the gazette notice issued by CS Duale complied with the legal requirement of being issued within 24 hours.

On Thursday, June 27, 2024, demonstrators across major towns in Kenya continued their anti-government protests despite President William Ruto’s decision not to sign the controversial Finance Bill into law on Wednesday, June 26, 2024.

In Nairobi, heavily armed KDF officers were observed maintaining vigilance from atop an armoured vehicle as the demonstrators proceeded with their planned protests.