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Court Dismisses Lobby Group Defamation Case against Government

The  Mombasa  High Court  has dismissed a defamation case by Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI) against the government after it linked the NGO to terror activities.

In  2015, the government listed over 80 individuals and entities, including MUHURI, as an associate of a militant group, Al Shabaab, following the Garissa University  attack. The government also froze MUHURI’s bank accounts.

MUHURI  sued the government to delist its name from the list and unfreeze its accounts. In November 2015, the rights group won.

The  NGO then filed a suit on June 13, 2016, seeking general, special, aggravated, exemplary, and punitive damages.

It  claimed  its reputation, and of people associated with it, had been dented by the terror links. MUHURI sued the Central Bank of Kenya, the Financial Reporting Center, and the Attorney General.

MUHURI  argued in court that it could not conduct its activities when the government closed its accounts.

Judge Dora Chepkony, delivering her verdict on Tuesday, said MUHURI had filed the case out of a stipulated one-year period.

“Section three of the Public Authority Limitations Act provides that no proceeding shall be brought against the government or local authority after the end of 12 months from the date on which the cause of action accrued,” Chepkony said.

She added: “The gazette notice which the injuries to the reputation of the first plaintiff arose was published on April 7, 2015, while the suit to seek redress for the injuries suffered was filed July 13, 2016 which is equivalent to 16 months after the said injury occurred.”

Lucy  Hakika, a counsel representing the civil society in the suit said the case was dismissed on grounds it was filed outside the one year statutory limitation after the gazette notice was published.

The gazette notice had listed the first plaintiff as one of the organization funding terrorism in the country.

Ms. Hakika is arguing the time limitation was not raised by the defendants as a preliminary objection, the issue cropped up during the submissions and her clients had no chance to reply to the issue.

The  MUHURI  Chairman, Khelef  Khalifa  said the NGO will appeal the verdict.

By  Joseph  Kamolo

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