As a result of continued attacks carried out by Al Shabaab extremist group, the Kenyan government has reinforced its counter-terrorism operations, which has led to increased human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.  The government has used judicial and administrative measures to further restrict the right to freedom of association in the country, and in October 2015, 957 organisations were threatened with closure.
Freedom of association
The Kenyan government has often used administrative measures to restrict the operating space for civil society. On 28 October 2015, the Kenyan NGO Registration Board passed a decision to de-register 957 Kenyan organisations, including the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), if they failed to present audited accounts to the Board within 14 days. The KHRC was accused of failing to account for approximately 1.2 billion KES (approx. 10 million euros), managing four illegal accounts, and transmitting inaccurate financial reports. On 30 October 2015, the Cabinet Secretary for Devolution and National Planning revoked the decision to de-register the 957 organisations, and the Kenyan Human Rights Commission launched a lawsuit against the NGO board.
On 12 November 2015, the High Court sitting in Mombasa revoked the freezing of the bank accounts for MUHURI and HAKI Africa. In his ruling, Justice Emukule stated that the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Joseph Boinnet’s actions to freeze the organisations’ bank accounts were unconstitutional and therefore invalid. MUHURI and HAKI Africa’s bank accounts were frozen in April 2015 after being listed as specified entities under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (2012). The Judge ruled that only the Cabinet Secretary has the powers to name “specified entities” if satisfied with the IGP’s recommendations. Justice Emukule further stated that it was unclear when the 24 hours notice given to the two organisations to respond to the Gazette Notice commenced and the actions of the IGP should have been specific.
Freedom of expression
Following an attack on the Kenya Defence Forces in El Adde in Somalia on 15 January 2016, the Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Interior and National Coordination, Joseph Nkaissery, warned that anyone who circulated images of soldiers killed in the Somalia attack would be arrested for being sympathetic to Al-Shabaab. “These characters who amplify terror by sharing such pictures have ignored such warnings in the past and would not be tolerated,” he said. The police have either arrested or summoned for questioning five journalists and eight bloggers, who have been charged with “demeaning the authority of a public officer,” “annoying a public officer,” or defamation- contrary to the Penal Code or section 29 of the Kenya Information and Communications Act 2013.
The 2013 Communications Act introduced a new offence of “improper use of a licensed communications system”, which has since been used to impede the work of journalists and human rights defenders. On 19 January 2016, Edwin Reuben Ilah, a Kenyan blogger was arrested and charged with “improper use of a licensed communications system” for posting images of Kenyan soldiers killed in an Al Shabaab attack in Somalia.” Other cases of human rights defenders and journalists being charged under this provision have been reported, particularly in cases where individuals published materials related to terrorism and criticism of the government.
On 14 March, Joel Ogada a renowned environmental human rights activist was arrested by Kenyan police, allegedly for his human rights activities. Ogada is a farmer in the Marereni area at the Kenyan coast and is among the most vocal HRDs standing up for the land rights of the Marereni community. Ogada has been repeatedly confronted with arrests and detentions since May 2014 when he was sentenced to seven years imprisonment on a conviction of arson.
 “2015/2016 Annual Report”, Amnesty International, https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/africa/kenya/report-kenya/
 “Kenya: Administrative Harassment of The Kenyan Human Rights Commission” OMCT, World Organisation Against Torture, 13 November 2015, http://www.omct.org/human-rights-defenders/urgent-interventions/kenya/2015/11/d23463/
 “Kenya: Court’s Decision to Unfreeze The Banks Accounts For Haki Africa And Muslims For Human Rights”, OMCT – World Organisation Against Torture, 13 November 2015, http://www.omct.org/human-rights-defenders/urgent-interventions/kenya/2015/11/d23466/
 “Dispatches Media Freedom Under Attack In Kenya”, Human Rights Watch, 23 March 2016, https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/03/23/dispatches-media-freedom-under-threat-kenya
 “Human Rights Defender Joel Ogada Arrested In Kenya” Civil Rights Defenders 14 March 2016 https://www.civilrightsdefenders.org/news/human-rights-defender-joel-ogada-arrested-in-kenya/
 “ACHPR: Overview of the Human Rights Situation in East and Horn of Africa (April 2014-April 2015)”, EHAHRDP, April 2015, https://www.defenddefenders.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/ACHPR-57th-Session-report.pdf