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Official Secrets Act

LAWS OF KENYA
T he O fficial S ecreTS a cT
Chapter 187
Revised Edition 2009 (1970)
Published by the National Council for Law Reporting
with the Authority of the Attorney General

www.kenyalaw.org

CAP. 187 Official Secrets [Rev. 2009 2
CHAPTER 187
THE OFFICIAL SECRETS ACT
arraNGeMeNt OF SeCtIONS
part I—p relIMINary
Section
1—Short title.
2—Interpretation.
part II—p rOteCtION OF the SaFety aNd INtereStS OF the republIC
3—Acts prejudicial to Republic.
4—Unauthorized use of uniforms, passes, etc.
5—Interference with police officers or armed forces.
6—Production of telegrams.
7—Harbouring.
8—Attempts, incitements, etc.
9—Acts committed outside Kenya.
part III—p rOCeedINGS FOr OFFeNCeS
10—Consent to prosecution.
11—Place of offence.
12—Exclusion of public from trial.
13—Presumption concerning communication with
agent of foreign power.
14—Presumption as to purpose prejudicial to
safety of Republic.
15—Presumption as to communication of
information concerning prohibited place.
16—Proof of lawful authority or excuse.
part IV—S uppleMeNtal
17—Arrest without warrant.
18—Search warrant.
19—Duty to give information as to commission
of certain offences.
20—General penalty.
21—Repeal .

Rev. 2009] Official Secrets CAP. 187 3
CHAPTER 187
THE OFFICIAL SECRETS ACT
Commencement Date: 16th February, 1968
An Act of Parliament to provide for the preservation of State secrets and
State security
part I—p relIMINary

1. This Act may be cited as the Official Secrets Act.
2. (1) In this Act, except where the context otherwise requires —
“agent of a foreign power” includes any person who is or has been
or is reasonably suspected of being or having been employed by a foreign

power either directly or indirectly for the purpose of committing an act
whether within or outside Kenya prejudicial to the safety or interests of
the Republic of Kenya, or who has or is reasonably suspected of having
within or outside Kenya committed or attempted to commit such an act
in the interests of a foreign power;
“code word” means an official secret or classified code, code
word, pass word or cipher, including any group of letters or figures or
both constituting part of a code;
“court” means a subordinate court of the first class;
“disaffected person” includes any person carrying on a subversive
activity;
“munitions of war” means arms, ammunition, implements or
munitions of war, or stores of the armed forces or the police, or any
articles deemed capable of being converted into any of those things or
made useful in the production thereof;
“office under the Government” means any office or employment
in or under the Government or in or under any Ministry, department
or branch of the Government, and any office or employment in, on or
under any board, commission, corporation or other body that is an agent,
or emanation of the Government, whether the office or employment is
within or outside Kenya;
“official document” includes a passport, naval, army, air force,
police or official pass, permit, certificate or licence, or other document
of a similar character;
11 of 1968,
7 of 1987.
Short title.
Interpretation.
7 of 1987, Sch.

CAP. 187 Official Secrets [Rev. 2009 4
“plan” includes sketch, model, design, pattern and specimen;
“prohibited place” means —
(a) any place belonging to or occupied or used by or on behalf
of the Government which is used for or in connexion with
the maintenance of public security, including arsenals,
establishments or stations of the armed forces or the police,
factories, dockyards, mines, minefields, camps, ships,
aircraft, telegraph, telephone, wireless or signal stations
or offices, and places used for the purpose of building,
repairing, making or storing any munitions of war or any
plans or documents relating thereto, or for the purposes of
getting any metals, oil or minerals for use in time of war or
emergency; or
(b) any place not belonging to the Government where any
munitions of war or any plans or documents relating thereto
are being made, repaired, received or stored under contract
with, or with any person acting on behalf of, the Government;
or
(c) any place that is for the time being declared by the Minister,
by order, to be a prohibited place on the ground that
information with respect thereto or damage thereto would
be prejudicial to the safety and interests of the Republic;
“sketch” includes photograph and any other mode of representing
any place or thing;
“subversive” has the same meaning as in section 77 (3) of the
Penal Code;
“telegram” means any communication or visual image transmitted
or intended for transmission by telegraph apparatus;
“telegraph apparatus” has the same meaning as in the Kenya
Posts and Telecommunications Act ( now repealed ) of the Community.
(2) In this Act —
(a) expressions referring to communicating or receiving include
any communicating or receiving whether in whole or in
part and whether the plan, article, document or information
itself or only the substance, effect or description thereof is
communicated or received;
Cap. 63.
Cap. 411.

Rev. 2009] Official Secrets CAP. 187 5
(b) expressions referring to obtaining or retaining any plan,
article or document include copying or causing to be copied
the whole or any part of any plan, article or document; and
(c) expressions referring to the communication of any plan,
article or document include the transfer or transmission of
the plan, article or document.
part II—p rOteCtION OF the SaFety aNd INtereStS OF
the r epublIC
3. (1) Any person who, for any purpose prejudicial to the safety
or interests of the Republic —
(a) approaches, inspects, passes over, is in the neighbourhood
of or enters a prohibited place; or
(b) makes any plan that is calculated to be or might be or is
intended to be directly or indirectly useful to a foreign power
or disaffected person; or
(c) obtains, collects, records, publishes or communicates in
whatever manner to any other person any code word, plan,
article, document or information which is calculated to be
or might be or is intended to be directly or indirectly useful
to a foreign power or disaffected person,
shall be guilty of an offence.
(2) Any person who takes a photograph of a prohibited place
or who takes a photograph in a prohibited place, without having first
obtained the authority of the officer in charge of the prohibited place,
shall be guilty of an offence.
(3) Any person who has in his possession or under his control any
code word, plan, article, document or information which —
(a) relates to or is used in a prohibited place or anything in a
prohibited place; or
(b) has been made or obtained in contravention of this Act; or
(c) has been entrusted in confidence to him by any person
holding office under the Government; or
(d) has been entrusted in confidence to him owing to his position
Acts prejudicial to
Republic.

CAP. 187 Official Secrets [Rev. 2009 6
as a person who holds or has held a contract made on behalf
of the Government or a contract the performance of which
in whole or in part is carried out in a prohibited place, or as
a person who is or has been employed under a person who
holds or has held such an office or contract,
and who for any purpose or in any manner prejudicial to the safety or
interests of the Republic —
(i) uses the code word, plan, article, document or information;
or
(ii) retains the plan, article or document in his possession
or under his control when he has no right so to retain it
or when it is contrary to his duty so to retain it, or fails
to comply with all directions issued by lawful authority
with regard to its return or disposal,
shall be guilty of an offence.
(4) Any person who, having in his possession or under his control
any plan, article, document or information that relates to munitions of
war, communicates it directly or indirectly to any foreign power, or to
any other person for any purpose or in any manner prejudicial to the
safety or interests of the Republic, shall be guilty of an offence.
(5) Any person who receives any code word, plan, article,
document or information, knowing or having reasonable grounds for
believing at the time when he receives it, that the code word, plan, article,
document or information is communicated to him in contravention
of this Act, shall be guilty of an offence, unless he proves that the
communication to him of the code word, plan, article, document or
information was contrary to his wishes.
(6) Any person who has in his possession or under his control any
code word, plan, article, document or information of a kind or in the
circumstances mentioned in paragraphs ( a) to ( d) inclusive of subsection
(3) of this section, and who —
(a) communicates the code word, plan, article, document or
information to any person, other than a person to whom he
is authorized to communicate it or to whom it is his duty to
communicate it; or
(b) retains the plan, article or document in his possession or
under his control when he has no right so to retain it or when
it is contrary to his duty so to retain it, or fails to comply

Rev. 2009] Official Secrets CAP. 187 7

Unauthorized use of
uniforms, passes, etc.
with all directions issued by lawful authority with regard to
the return or disposal thereof; or
(c) fails to take reasonable care of, or so conducts himself as to
endanger the safety of, the code word, plan, article, document
or information,
shall be guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not
exceeding five years.
(7) Any person who —
(a) allows any other person to have possession of any official
document issued for his use alone, or communicates to any
other person any code word so issued; or
(b) without lawful authority or excuse, has in his possession
any official document or code word issued for the use alone
of some person other than himself; or
(c) on obtaining possession of any official document by finding
or otherwise neglects or fails to restore it to the person or
authority by whom or for whose use it was issued or to a
police officer,
shall be guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not
exceeding five years.
4. Any person who, for the purpose of gaining admission, or of
assisting any other person to gain admission, to a prohibited place,
or for any other purpose or in any manner prejudicial to the safety or
interests of the Republic —
(a) uses or wears, without lawful authority, any uniform of
the armed forces, any police uniform or any other official
uniform, or any uniform so nearly resembling the same as
to be calculated to deceive, or falsely represents himself to
be a person who is or has been entitled to use or wear any
such uniform; or
(b) orally, or in writing in any declaration or application, or in
any document signed by him or on his behalf, knowingly
makes or connives at the making of any false statement or
any omission; or
(c) forges, alters or tampers with any passport or any naval,
army, air force, police or official pass, permit, certificate,
licence or other document of a similar character, or uses or

CAP. 187 Official Secrets [Rev. 2009 8
has in his possession any such forged, altered or irregular
official document; or
(d) personates, or falsely represents himself to be, a person
holding, or in the employment of a person holding office
under the Government, or to be or not to be a person to
whom an official document or code word has been duly
issued or communicated, or with intent to obtain an official
document or code word, whether for himself or any other
person, knowingly makes any false statement; or
(e) uses, or has in his possession or under his control, without
the authority of the Government department or authority
concerned, any die, seal or stamp of or belonging to or used,
made or provided by any Government department, or by any
diplomatic, military, air force or naval authority appointed
by or acting under the authority of the Government, or any
die, seal or stamp so nearly resembling any such die, seal
or stamp as to be calculated to deceive, or counterfeits any
such die, seal or stamp, or uses, or has in his possession or
under his control, any such counterfeited die, seal or stamp,
shall be guilty of an offence.
5. Any person who in the vicinity of any prohibited place
obstructs, knowingly misleads or otherwise interferes with or impedes
any police officer, or any member of the armed forces who is engaged
on guard, sentry patrol or other similar duty in relation to the prohibited
place, shall be guilty of an offence.
6. (1) Where it appears to the Minister that it is expedient in the
public interest to do so, he may, by warrant under his hand, require
any person who owns or controls any telegraph apparatus used for the
sending or receipt of telegrams to or from any place outside Kenya, to
produce to him, or to any person named in the warrant, the originals
and transcripts of all telegrams or of telegrams of any specified class
or description or of telegrams sent from or addressed to any specified
person or place, sent to or received from any place outside Kenya by
means of any such telegraph apparatus and all other papers relating to
any such telegram as aforesaid.
(2) Any person who, having been required under subsection (1)
of this section to produce the originals and transcripts of telegrams,
refuses or neglects to comply with such requirement, shall be guilty of
an offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year.
7. Any person who —
Interference with
police officers or
armed forces.
Production of
telegrams.
Harbouring.

Rev. 2009] Official Secrets CAP. 187 9
(a) knowingly harbours any person whom he knows, or has
reasonable grounds for supposing, to be a person who is about
to commit or who has committed an offence under this Act; or
(b) knowingly permits to meet or assemble in any premises
in his occupation or under his control any persons whom
he knows, or has reasonable grounds for supposing, to be
persons who are about to commit or who have committed
an offence under this Act; or
(c) having harboured any person as aforesaid or permitted any
persons to meet or assemble as aforesaid, wilfully omits or
refuses to disclose to a police officer of or above the rank of
Inspector any information that it is in his power to give in
relation to any such person,
shall be guilty of an offence.
8. Any person who attempts to commit an offence under this
Act, or solicits or incites or endeavours to persuade another person to
commit any such offence, or aids or abets or does any act preparatory
to the commission of such an offence under this Act, shall be guilty
of an offence, whether or not the solicitation, incitement or endeavour
succeeds in its purpose, and liable to the same punishment as if he had
committed that offence.
9. An act, omission or thing that would, by reason of this Act,
be punishable as an offence if committed in Kenya shall, if committed
outside Kenya, be an offence under this Act, triable and punishable in
Kenya, in the following cases, namely
(a) where the offender at the time of the commission was a
citizen of Kenya;
(b) where any code word, plan, article, document, information
or other thing whatsoever in respect of which an offender is
charged was obtained by him, or depends upon information
obtained by him, while owing allegiance to the Republic.
part III—p rOCeedINGS FOr OFFeNCeS
10. (1) A prosecution for an offence under this Act shall not be
instituted except by or with the consent of the Attorney-General.
(2) A person charged with an offence under this Act may be
Attempts,
incitements, etc.
Acts committed
outside Kenya.
Consent to
prosecution.

CAP. 187 Official Secrets [Rev. 2009 10
arrested, or a warrant for his arrest may be issued and executed, and any
such person may be remanded in custody or on bail, notwithstanding that
the consent of the Attorney-General to the institution of a prosecution for
the offence has not been obtained, but no further or other proceedings
shall be taken until that consent has been obtained.
11. For the purposes of the trial of a person for an offence under
this Act, the offence shall be deemed to have been committed either at
the place in which it was actually committed or at any place in Kenya
in which the offender may be found.
12. In addition and without prejudice to any powers that a court
may possess to order the exclusion of the public from any proceedings,
if in the course of proceedings before the court against any person for
an offence under this Act or of the proceedings on appeal, application
is made by the prosecution, on the grounds that the publication of any
evidence to be given or of any statement to be made in the course of the
proceedings would prejudicial to the interests of the Republic, that all
or any portion of the public shall be excluded during the whole or any
part of the hearing, the court may make an order to that effect, but the
passing of sentence shall in any case take place in public.
13. (1) On a prosecution for an offence under section 3 of this
Act, the fact that the accused person has been in communication with,
or has attempted to communicate with, an agent of a foreign power,
whether within or outside Kenya, shall be evidence that he has, for a
purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the Republic, obtained
or attempted to obtain information which is calculated to be or might
be or is intended to be directly or indirectly useful to a foreign power
.
(2) For the purposes of subsection (1) of this section, but without
prejudice to the generality of that subsection, a person shall, unless he
proves the contrary, be deemed to have been in communication with
an agent of a foreign power if —
(a) he has, either within or outside Kenya, visited the address
of an agent of a foreign power or consorted or associated
with such an agent; or
(b) either within or outside Kenya, the name or address of, or any
other information regarding, such an agent has been found
in his possession, or has been supplied by him to any other
person, or has been obtained by him from any other person.
(3) Any address, whether within or outside Kenya, reasonably
suspected of being an address used for the receipt of communications
intended for an agent of a foreign power, or any address at which such
Place of offence.
Exclusion of public
from trial.
Presumption
concerning
communication with
agent of foreign
power.

Rev. 2009] Official Secrets CAP. 187 11
an agent resides, or to which he resorts for the purpose of giving or
receiving communications, or at which he carries on any business,
shall be deemed to be the address of an agent of a foreign power, and
communications addressed to that address to be communications with
the agent.
14. Where, on a prosecution of a person for an offence under this
Act, it is alleged that he did some act for a purpose prejudicial to the
safety or interests of the Republic, it shall not be necessary to show that
he committed the act for that purpose if, from the circumstances of the
case, or from his conduct or his known character as proved, it appears
that his purpose was a purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of
the Republic.
15. Where any code word, plan, article, document or information
relating to or used in any prohibited place, or anything in such a place,
is made, obtained, collected, recorded, published or communicated by
any person other than a person acting under lawful authority, it shall be
deemed to have been made, obtained, collected, recorded, published or
communicated for a purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the
Republic, unless the contrary is proved.
16. For the avoidance of doubt, it is hereby declared proof of
lawful that the burden of proving lawful authority or excuse shall be
upon the person alleging it, and accordingly in any proceedings for
prosecution for an offence under this Act it shall not be incumbent on
the prosecution to prove the lack of any such authority or excuse.
part IV—S uppleMeNtal
17. (1) Any person who is found committing an offence under
this Act, or who is reasonably suspected of having committed, or of
having attempted to commit, or of being about to commit, an offence
under this Act, may be arrested by a police officer without a warrant.
(2) Any person arrested under subsection (1) of this section shall
be brought before a court within twenty-four hours whether or not the
police inquiries are completed.
18. (1) If a court is satisfied by information on oath that there is
reasonable ground for suspecting that an offence under this Act has been
or is about to be committed, it may issue a search warrant authorizing
any police officer named therein to enter at any time any premises or
place named in the warrant, if necessary by force, and to search the
premises or place and every person found therein, and to seize any plan,
article, or document, or anything that is evidence of an offence under
this Act having been or being about to be committed, that he may find
Presumption as to
purpose
prejudicial to safety
of Republic.
Presumption as to
communication of
information
concerning
prohibited place.
Proof of lawful
authority or excuse.
Arrest without
warrant.
Search warrant.

CAP. 187 Official Secrets [Rev. 2009 12
on the premises or place or on any such person, and with regard to or
in connexion with which he has reasonable grounds for suspecting that
an offence under this Act has been or is about to be committed.
(2) Where it appears to a police officer of or above the rank of
Assistant Superintendent that the case is one of great urgency and that
in the interests of the Republic immediate action is necessary, he may
by a written order under his hand give to any police officer the like
authority as may be given by a warrant of a court under this section.
19. (1) Where the Attorney-General is satisfied that there is
reasonable ground for suspecting that an offence under this Act has
been, or is about to be, committed and for believing that some person
is able to furnish information with regard thereto, he may authorize a
gazetted police officer to require that person to give any information in
his power relating to the offence or suspected offence and, if so required
and on tender of his reasonable expenses, to attend at such reasonable
time and place as may be specified by the gazetted police officer.
(2) Any person who, having been required in pursuance of
an authorization given under subsection (1) of this section to give
information or to attend at a specified time and place, fails to comply
with the requirement, or knowingly gives false information, shall be
guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding
six months or to a fine not exceeding five thousand shillings, or to both
such imprisonment and such fine.
20. Any person who is guilty of an offence under this Act for which
no penalty is specifically provided shall be liable to imprisonment for
a term not exceeding fourteen years.
21. (1) The Official Secrets Act is repealed.
(2) The Official Secrets Act 1911, the Official Secrets Act 1920
and the Official Secrets Act 1939 of the United Kingdom are repealed
in their application to Kenya.
(3) Notwithstanding subsections (1) and (2) of this section, a
person may after the commencement of this Act be prosecuted under
the Acts repealed by this section for an offence committed under the
repealed Acts as though this Act had not come into operation.
Duty to give
information as to
commission of
certain offences.
General penalty.
Repeal.
Cap. 187.
1 & 2 Geo. 5,
c. 23.
10 and 11 Geo.5,
c. 75.
2 & 3 Geo. 6,
c. 121.

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