The Obama administration has said it is “disappointed” and “concerned” by sections of the Security Laws (Amendment) Bill.
In a statement from State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki on the Bill that was signed into law on Friday by President Uhuru Kenyatta, Washington however reaffirmed its support of Kenya’s fight against terrorism.
“The US government is firmly committed to supporting Kenya’s efforts to defeat Al-Shabaab and to ensure security of all of its citizens.
“We are disappointed, however, by the very limited time allowed for debate and consultation on the 2014 Security Laws (Amendment) Bill prior to its passage and enactment into law,” the statement read.
“We are also concerned about several provisions in the legislation, including those that appear to limit freedom of assembly and media, and access to asylum for refugees.
“As a key partner in the global effort to counter terrorism, we expect the Kenyan government to ensure that its counterterrorism efforts live up to Kenyaâ€™s international commitments and its own constitution.
“Protecting Kenyaâ€™s constitution and upholding human rights, democracy, and international obligations are among the most effective ways to bolster security.”
The Security Laws (Amendment) Bill was passed by MPs in an acrimonious session on Thursday. Legislators scuffled in the chamber as debate descended into chaos, prompting the chairman of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, Mumo Matemu, to announce on Friday that MPs who disrupted the session were being investigated and could lose their seats.
In an address to the nation shortly after signing the Bill on Friday, President Kenyatta said they would help boost the government’s fight against terrorism and criminal activities such as poaching and cross-border trafficking.
Reacting to the ill-tempered session, the President said Opposition MPs in the National Assembly and senators had exhibited a â€œdeplorable conduct.â€
He described Thursdayâ€™s session as an â€œunfortunate incidentâ€ that denied Kenyans a chance to follow the House proceedings.
He praised members from the ruling Jubilee coalition for passing the law despite the chaos and mayhem.
On the deregistration of NGOs, Washington said it was seeking “further information” on the decision.
“A strong civil society is vital to democracy, security, and prosperity. We urge the Government of Kenya to ensure the regulation of NGOs is transparent, fair, and grounded in clear criteria that do not limit free expression, association, or assembly,” the statement said.