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We want to express shock and surprise at the decision by the Office of the Attorney General, through the Deputy Registrar Mrs. Muluku Kariuku to suspend the Atheists in Kenya Society. We collected this letter on the 10th June, 2016 through postal mail, despite the fact that the letter was dated 29th April, 2016.
Ever since we applied to be a registered Society under the laws of Kenya, there has been a spirited attempt to find fault with our legal recognition.
It is unfortunate that the Attorney General has yielded to the calls by the religious groups to have the atheists in Kenya Society suspended. This decision goes against the principles of natural justice. It smacks of intolerance and infringes on our fundamental freedoms and rights as atheists, in particular the freedom of association. This decision offends Article 8 of the Constitution. It attempts to make religious views the basis for administrative action against individuals and groups in Kenya. Kenya is not a theocracy. The state must not be pushed by any religious groups when it comes to matters of making decisions, especially those touching on fundamental freedoms and rights of all Kenyans. Kenya is a secular state.
The Office of the Attorney General has not given us a hearing on this matter. We have been judged and prosecuted without being given a hearing. We feel discriminated upon. Every Kenyan has a right to administrative action that is expeditious, efficient, lawful, reasonable and procedurally fair. Since this action adversely affects our rights and fundamental freedoms of Atheist In Kenya (AIK), we expected that the office of the attorney general would give us an opportunity to be heard and make presentations with regard to any accusations leveled against us. Nobody from the Attorney General’s office has contacted any official of AIK, prior to this suspension.
The attorney general has indicated that we have made pronouncements that have generated great public concern which is prejudicial and incompatible with the peace, stability and good order of the Republic of Kenya. We have not been told which specific pronouncements these are, and how they are incompatible with peace and stability of our beloved country.
In fact, all our statements have only generated public debate on certain issues, and public debate is good for the country. We cannot grow as a country, politically and socially if we cannot continuously subject key issues to debate.
If we do not challenge preexisting views, positions, traditions, opinions and beliefs, we stifle democracy. It is our position that the reasons given by the registrar are baseless, and were meant to frustrate our efforts to be recognized as a legal society.
We want to remind the attorney general that atheists are also Kenyans. Our members are law abiding Kenyans and are drawn from varied backgrounds, ethnic communities and professions in the country. They include lawyers, bankers, teachers, businessmen and women, lecturers, engineers and many other Kenyans who are contributing to the growth and development of the country. This blatant discrimination takes our country back, and we must not allow ourselves to limit freedoms of those with a varying opinion.
The principle of freedom of association is a core principle of our constitution. It is also a right proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). The right to organize and form organizations and societies is the prerequisite for sound collective bargaining and social dialogue. It is surprising that a few individuals at the State Law Office seem to be subjective in applying and interpreting the law.
We shall therefore be moving to court in the shortest time possible to ask the courts to quash this suspension until the matter is heard inter parte.
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