Photo: Top lawyers; Donald Kipkorir, Prof Makau Mutua and Ahmednasir Abdullahi
By WAIKWA WANYOIKE
The decision by the government to withdraw the passports of a number of citizens is clearly a violation of the law and the Constitution.
One of the things that the Constitution has as a right of citizens is not just citizenship but also a passport.
In fact, the Constitution specifically says every citizen has a right to a passport and other documents of identification.
So if that is a constitutional right, then it is not something that can be taken away at will. The second thing that the Constitution says is that every citizen has a right to freedom of movement, to leave and enter Kenya anytime they wish to do that.
Obviously to do that, you need a passport in most instances and therefore taking away somebody’s passport is not only infringement on his or her rights to having it as a form of identification but also the right to movement.
That is another violation that the state has caused.
The way the passports have been withdrawn is clearly illegal and everybody would know this.
A law student would know this and I wonder who is advising this government and its agencies because this is extremely unconstitutional. Even where it is possible to withdraw a passport, due process has to be followed.
The person has to be given notification in good time of the reason or reasons why the passport might be withdrawn so that they can appear before the government agency concerned to explain themselves.
It is only on very, very exceptional circumstances that the law imagines a passport can be taken away.
Obviously due process was not followed in this case.
What we have witnessed on the part of government, not just on the issue of passports being withdrawn but also the withdrawal of bodyguards of some members of Parliament from the NASA side, withdrawal of the gun licenses, what we have seen with the TV stations.
All this is a show of tantrums – it is a government that is so low on self-esteem it is throwing tantrums right, left, and centre.
And it thinks by throwing those tantrums, it will scare everybody. This is use of tactics of oppression.
Luckily, we have a fairly independent Judiciary.
This government was put in power by the Supreme Court, but they have no respect for the rule of law.
The writer is the executive director of the Katiba Institute