Proposed Legislation Targets Having Protestors Pay For Damages Caused During Picketing

Journalists running during maandamano
Journalists running during protests on March 20, 2023.

Organisers of protests and individual demonstrators could face financial liability for property destroyed during picketing if a new bill, The Assembly and Demonstration Bill 2024, is signed into law.

The bill seeks to govern the conduct of demonstrators and have them solely limit their activity to airing their grievances and not destroy other people's property while making their point.

In the past, some demonstrations have gotten out of hand, leaving traders counting losses over looting or rogue demonstrators going on unwarranted rampage.

“Where during the carrying on of an assembly or demonstration, damage to property occurs as a result of the assembly or demonstration, every organisation and every person participating in such assembly or demonstration shall, be jointly and severally liable for such damage,” reads a provision of the bill.

Further, the bill seeks to have demonstrators banned from carrying banners, placards, singing or making speeches that in any manner could incite hatred towards other groups or persons on account of differences in culture, race, sex, language or religion.

Eldoret residents stage counter-protests against striking medics in Eldoret Town on April 15, 2024.

Additionally, protestors will also be required to have their face fully identifiable, without wearing any disguise, mask or apparel that could prevent law enforcement officers from identifying them.

Protestors will also be banned from wearing any form of apparel that resembles any of the uniforms worn by security forces including the police and Kenya Defence Forces (KDF).

The bill also seeks to outlaw possession of any offensive weapon, during protests.

Organisations and individuals that aim to convene such assemblies and demonstrations, will be required to access written permits from the police.

The organiser of an assembly or demonstration  will also be mandated to have marshals and in certain instances the police present at such an assembly or demonstration to ensure the maintenance of peace and order

The bill also proposes that police officers above the rank of Inspector, can stop or prevent the stated demonstrations from taking place.  

Further, the piece of legislation provides that a person who takes part in an unlawful assembly demonstration or convenes  such a demonstration, commits an offence under Chapter IX of the Penal Code and is liable to imprisonment for one year.

Githurai 45 residents barricade the Thika superhighway after floods maroon their houses on the night of April 23, 2024
Githurai 45 residents barricade the Thika superhighway after floods maroon their houses on the night of April 23, 2024
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