Lawmakers now train their guns on activists

What you need to know:

  • The NGO sector injects an approximated Sh130 billion into the economy annually and employs hundreds of Kenyans
  • The planned changes to the Public Benefits Organisations, Act 2013 propose that non-governmental organisations receive only 15 per cent of their budget from foreign funding

Days after Parliament passed a retrogressive media law, the spotlight has now shifted to civil society, with an equally punitive law targeting funding for NGOs in the pipeline. (READ: Reject proposed media law, President urged)

The NGO sector injects an approximated Sh130 billion into the economy annually and employs hundreds of Kenyans.

The planned changes to the Public Benefits Organisations, Act 2013 propose that non-governmental organisations receive only 15 per cent of their budget from foreign funding. (EDITORIAL: MPs want to cripple NGOs: Don’t let them)

Mr Henry Maina, the director of Article 19, a local NGO, said for civil society organisations to survive under the new law, they would have to dance to the tune of the proposed Public Benefits Organisations Federation, a government body that would monitor and regulate their operations.

“This proposal seeks to silence the voices of dissent and would-be critics,” said Mr Maina.

He said Kenya was clearly beginning to mimic and borrow from countries like Ethiopia where such laws have been passed, crippling the human rights sector.

The executive director of the International Centre for Policy and Conflict, Mr Ndung’u Wainaina, said the proposed law was an indication that democracy was still in its infancy in the country. “The most important thing is that this is not an isolated issue. This is a result of an incomplete democratic transition facing Kenya,” he said.

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