Davis Malombe- Deputy Executive Director (Forth from left) answering questions from journalists during a press conference on Intimidation of Civil Society Organisations in Kenya.
On 4 November, 2017, some sections of the Kenyan media reported that the Non-Governmental Coordination Board (NGO Board), had summoned the leadership of three organisations – Inuka Kenya, Katiba Institute, and Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI) for questioning regarding the organisation’s finances. Based on media reports, the NGO Board alleges that these organisations have failed to provide a true reflection on the state of their finances. In addition, the NGO Board reportedly warned of unnamed legal consequences should these organisations fail to honour the summons.
The Civil Society condemns in the strongest possible terms this latest round of intimidation against the civil society in general and these three (3) organisations in particular. We stand in solidarity with the organisations, their staff, and their leadership who have worked tirelessly in the struggle for human rights, social justice, and peace in the country.
It is not a coincidence that the NGO Board has decided to come after these organisations at this time. All three, have been instrumental in documenting and calling for free, fair, and credible elections in the 2017 election cycle. In addition, all organisations have in one way or another been involved in litigation and other advocacy around elections issues. For example, Khelef Khalifa, the Chair of MUHURI’s Board was one of three concerned Kenyan citizens who filed a petition to the Supreme Court on 25 October 2017 in an attempt to postpone the elections for lack of preparedness. Katiba Institute is in the process of instituting legal proceedings on the constitutionality of the recently passed Election Laws (Amendment) Act 2017. John Githongo, who is part of the leadership of Inuka Kenya, has been active in civil society on precisely the issues the government doesn’t like: integrity, corruption in government, and free, fair, and credible elections.
This is not the first time that the government has targeted the institutional integrity of these organisations. In 2015, the government instigated and carried out the unlawful and illegitimate shuttering of MUHURI and another organisation on false allegations of association with known terror groups. The closure of MUHURI at the time was linked to its work to document and raise awareness on the human rights violations perpetrated by government forces in counter-terrorism operations.
We are aware of plans to target, intimidate, and subvert the work of civil society organisations in the coming days and weeks. This is part of a larger scheme to intimidation of institutions and organisations who have dared to dissent with or contradict with the official government line. We must not let this intimidation stand. The government should cease attacks against civil society organisations, end the culture of contempt and hostility towards civil society organisations working to raise the bar of accountability and integrity in the country. We call on all Kenyans to rise to the cause for a free and open civic space. We must not allow Kenya’s hard won democratic institutions be eroded. We reiterate that we don’t recognise the summons of the NGO board as issued by Fazul. Fazul has been indicted by constitutional bodies as unfit to hold office and he continues to perpetuate illegalities by summoning civil society organisation pushing for good governance and the rule of law.
List of organisations
- Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR)
- Inuka Kenya Ni Sisi Ltd
- Katiba Institute
- Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI)
- Coalition for Constitutional Implementation
- Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC)