Increased surveillance in response to mounting terrorist threats
Kenya is scaling up security surveillance in Nairobi and the port city of Mombasa in response to a string of recent terrorist attacks, mainly in northern Kenya near the border with Somalia. The first phase of the $166 million project involves the installation of 1,800 cameras in Nairobi, before being replicated in other areas of the country.
The order came from Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta who has come under pressure to deal with the mounting security threat by Somali militant group al-Shabaab.
The project is being implemented by local mobile telephone company Safaricom together with the police. The new system relays images and video footage to a central command centre – something that police on patrol can also do using mobile technology. Up to 12,000 police officers will be trained to use the new system.
The move is part of the government's tough new rules to deal with terrorism, including the right to detain terror suspects for up to one year, but critics say the legislation curtails fundamental freedoms.
Under the laws, journalists could face fines of $56,000 or a three-year prison term, or both, if their reports on police activities are deemed to undermine the fight against terrorism. Journalists will also require police permission before investigating or publishing stories on domestic terrorism and security issues. In addition the Kenyan interior ministry would be allowed to decide if, when and where public demonstrations can be held.
Kenya has also deregistered over 500 non-governmental organisations (NGOs), including 15 accused of links with terrorism, over alleged failure to submit financial records.
The tightening of security comes after Kenyatta appointed retired army general Joseph Nkaisery as new interior minister amid a security shake-up in early December.
Al-Shabaab has launched a series of attacks in Kenya since its forces went into neighbouring Somalia in 2011 to battle the extremists.