Mombasa - A court in Kenya's coastal city of Mombasa ordered on Monday the removal of two Muslim human rights groups from a government list of individuals and organisations suspected of possible links to terrorist activities.
Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI) and Haki Afrika were included in April on a list of entities associated with the Somali Islamist group Al Shabaab, which has killed more than 400 people on Kenyan soil over the last two years.
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The government also froze the groups' bank accounts, paralysing their activities and prompting the lawsuit.
The two groups, both based in Mombasa, have been critical of Kenya's anti-terror policies, accusing the government of making arbitrary arrests and conducting extra-judicial killings. Police have denied the allegations.
Judge Anyara Emukule said in her ruling the government had not provided evidence of any links to terrorist activities. The court however declined to issue orders for the unfreezing of the bank accounts, arguing that the Central Bank of Kenya, which regulates banks, was not part of the case.
After the ruling, Fahad Changi, an official from MUHURI, said the group would appeal. "We are incapacitated and cannot run our projects because we cannot access the funds," he said.
The Kenyan government had no immediate comment.
Security experts and local activists have criticised Kenya for relying on heavy-handed tactics in the fight against militancy, including mass arrests, which they say have alienated rather than engaged Muslims to help in intelligence gathering.
The group Human Rights Watch condemned what it called harassment of rights groups in Kenya by the government.
"Haki Africa and MUHURI are working to protect human rights in Kenya under difficult circumstances," Leslie Lefkow, Human Rights Watch's deputy Africa director, said in a statement.
"Haki Africa and MUHURI should be supported for their human rights work, not harassed and intimidated."