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Written by KHRC    Wednesday, 15 April 2015 10:08   
Human Rights Organizations are not Terrorist Organizations

14th April 2015, Nairobi | We the Civil Society Organisations express our deepest condolences to all affected by the heinous terrorist attack at the Garissa University College on 2nd April 2015. We strongly condemn this act and the despicable attempts to cultivate religious and ethnic tensions within Kenyan society. As we come to terms with the loss of such young and promising lives, we must recall that Kenya’s true strength lies in its ethnic, cultural and religious diversity coupled with a determination to live in peace and unity as one indivisible sovereign nation.

The Kenyan human rights community is extremely concerned about the decision to freeze the accounts of two human rights organisations, Haki Africa and Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI), in the aftermath of the terrorist attack in Garissa.

According to Gazette Notice 2326 of 7th April 2015, the Inspector General has listed five organizations under a list titled, “List of Terrorist Organizations”. These are Al-Shabaab, Mombasa Republican Council, Al-Qaida, ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) and Boko Haram. The same Gazette notice contains a longer list titled, “List of Entities Suspected to be Associated with Al-Shabaab.” This list has 85 entities which appear to be companies, business organizations and individuals. MUHURI and Haki Africa have been listed here.

As peer human rights organizations, we have worked closely with both MUHURI and Haki Africa in our attempt to counter violent extremism and improve security at the Coast. Both organizations work openly and peacefully and have advocated for constitutional means of ensuring countering terrorism while also observing human rights. Their work is respected nationally and internationally. Notably, the Executive Director of Haki Africa, Hussein Khalid, was one of two Kenyan civil society leaders who was invited to and participated in the White House Summit in DC on Countering Violent Extremism in February 2015. We therefore do not see a justification for the inclusion of these two organizations in this list.

We note that the Prevention of Terrorism Act, on which the notice in the Gazette is purported to be based, confers on the Inspector General and the Cabinet Secretary, the power to make a “specified entity order” against an entity involved in terrorism. The Act also provides that “Before making a recommendation … the Inspector-General shall afford the affected entity an opportunity to demonstrate why it should not be declared as a specified entity.”

We are concerned about the procedure that has been used by the Inspector General. First, although the law clearly provides that the Inspector-General shall afford the affected entity an opportunity to demonstrate why it should not be declared as a specified entity, the two organisations have had no contact with the Inspector-General and have learnt about this process from reading the Kenya Gazette. The failure to give the organisation’s notice or to allow them an opportunity to defend themselves is inherently prejudicial and offends all notions of fairness.

Secondly, as indicated above, the Gazette Notice has two lists, the first containing five entities listed as terrorist organizations, and the second with 85 entities listed as entities suspected to be “associated with Al-Shabaab.” Because the list is long and the organizations whose names form the list appear unrelated, we are concerned that the list is a meaningless attempt to bring under one label different organizations, many of which may be innocent, as terrorist organizations.

While we support the Government’s effort to also counter violent extremism, particularly in the wake of the killing of 147 Kenyans, mostly university students from Garissa University College, we consider the listing of MUHURI and Haki Africa to be an unthinking reaction to intimidate not only the two organizations but all civil society. Such reactions have continued, the latest being the demands by a group of Kenyan legislators and the Deputy President to close down Daadab refugee camp, disregarding Kenya’s obligations under regional and international law and blaming violent extremism on asylum-seekers and refugees.

We emphasize that, without due regard to the standards and procedures outlined in law requiring material grounds for claims of terrorism-related activities and affording the affected individuals and organisations reasonable opportunity to demonstrate why they should not be declared specified entities, any action taken is of dubious legality and unfair, and devalues the government’s efforts to fight terrorism.

Counter-terrorism can only succeed if both civil society and the Government work together to counter violent extremism. Continuous antagonism of civil society will only aggravate the situation. We wish to express our solidarity with our peer human rights organisations and reaffirm our commitment to countering violent extremism through rule of law.

We therefore demand:

  1. Unconditional removal of MUHURI and Haki Africa from the terrorism list and the immediate lifting of any freezing or restriction of the activities of these organisations;
  2. That the Government adheres to Article 47 of the Constitution of Kenya which provides for the right to “administrative action that is expeditious, efficient, lawful, reasonable and procedurally fair.” In particular Article 47 (2) which provides that: “if a right or fundamental freedom of a person has been or is likely to be adversely affected by administrative action, the person has the right to be given written reasons for the action.”
  3. That the Government upholds Article 27(4) in the Bill of Rights and desists from profiling individuals of Muslim or Somali descent;
  4. That the Government fulfills its obligation to protect its citizens by enhancing its security presence in vulnerable parts of the Country and assures all citizens and residents of Kenya of their safety. In this regard the Government should address root causes of insecurity, including inequality and other grievances in vulnerable parts of the country;
  1. That the Government acknowledges the important role played by civil society in promoting tolerance in the struggle against violent extremism and ensure an enabling environment in which human rights defenders and civil society can operate free from hindrance and insecurity.| END

SIGNED

13TH APRIL 2015

  1. ……………………………………………

Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC)

  1. …………………………………………..

The Kenya Section of International Commission of Jurists (ICJ Kenya)

  1. Kamau Ngugi, Executive Director

National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (NCHRD-K)

  1. ………………………………………….

Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice (KPTJ)

  1. ………………………………………….

Constitution & Reform Education Consortium (CRECO)

  1. ………………………………………….

ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa

  1. ………………………………………….

Human Rights Watch

  1. ………………………………………….

Freedom House

  1. …………………………………………..

Mazingira Institute

10. …………………………………………...

UHAI - the East African Sexual Health and Rights Initiative

11. Lorna Dias, Executive Coordinator……..

Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya, the (GALCK)

12. ……………………………………………

Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI)

13. …………………………………………….

FIDH, within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

14. ……………………………………………

OMCT, within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

15. ……………………………………………

Coalition for Constitution Implementation (CCI)

Inquiries: Audrey Kawire Wabwire | Communications Manager | This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 15 April 2015 10:10 )
 
Written by KHRC    Thursday, 09 April 2015 14:58   
Insecurity May Further Marginalize North Eastern Kenya

9th April 2015, Nairobi | The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), takes this opportunity to express its deepest condolences to all affected by the heinous terrorist attack undertaken by the Al Shabaab terror group at the Garissa University College on 2nd April 2015. We strongly condemn this act and the despicable attempts to cultivate religious and ethnic tensions within Kenyan society. As we come to terms with the loss of such young and promising lives, we must recall that Kenya’s true strength lies in its ethnic, cultural and religious diversity coupled with a determination to live in peace and unity as one indivisible sovereign nation.

Such strength has already been on display through the gallant efforts of our security officers whose response saw 663 students rescued even as some of the officers made the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives in the line of duty. In the aftermath of the attack, the indomitable spirit of the Kenyan people has been illustrated through various forms of support and donations taken to the families at Chiromo Mortuary, Kenyatta National Hospital and Nyayo National Stadium. We also compliment the Kenya Red Cross Response teams that were on the ground soon after the attack working closely with other command structures within the government and deploying ambulances and paramedics at the scene. We must also commend the spontaneous efforts by Kenyans to ensure that the memory of the victims is celebrated and not forgotten, most particularly through the “#147notjustanumber” campaign that is now a global discussion online, and the vigils that have accompanied it.

We must however reflect on the challenges we have encountered in combating this terror threat and the Commission wishes to state as follows:

1.  In addition to the immediate security threat, the government must also safeguard against the social and economic isolation of the Northern Kenya region as it bears the brunt of these terrorist attacks. The Garissa attack comes in the wake of similar incidences in Mandera County that had already seen an exodus of teachers who had cited the region as being unsafe. In similar fashion, Garissa now faces the indefinite closure of the only University College in the region. This has the huge potential of curtailing the right to education for most families. These actions are a huge setback for a region that had only begun to emerge from a history of social and economic marginalization through the promise of devolution. With the education sector already in peril, it would be catastrophic if other public services such as their already fragile health sector were to follow suit. It is imperative that Kenyans are able to exercise their freedom of movement and conscience and that the government guarantees the security of individuals in every part of the Country.

The government must enhance its security presence in these counties that have been consistently targeted by Al Shabaab and give an assurance to ALL residents of their safety. This must however be reinforced by a concerted effort in conjunction with local leaders to counter the narrative of ethnic and religious division that is being propagated by Al Shabaab.

Most importantly, the government must immediately follow through on the President’s pledge in his State of the Nation Address for “strategic initiatives in marginalized and at-risk regions and populations of our country”. We call on the wider Kenyan public to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in this region and frustrate all those who seek to divide us through fear.

2.  The government in undertaking counter-terrorism security operations must uphold all human rights obligations and abide by the Constitution. We must remember that Al Shabaab hopes to undermine our governance structures by playing into our fear and provoking us into measures such as collective punishment and discrimination against targeted groups. The government must instead embrace an inclusive and consultative approach that establishes a partnership with the public in as far as a counter-terrorism strategy is concerned. All investigations and prosecutions must be done in accordance with the law so as to curb any allegations of victimization or persecution that Al Shabaab may wish to rely on.

3. The government must fully commit to and invest in comprehensive security sector reforms governed by the rule of law. Such reforms include: a clear coordination framework for all security agencies that is respectful of the Constitution and related laws; the proper allocation and use of resources in responding to security threats; and a rapid improvement in the welfare of security personnel entrusted to keep us safe. The President’s recent directive on police recruitment unfortunately undermines these reforms by creating a dispute with the Judiciary and other State organs rather than maintaining a focus on the terror threat.

    We must pay tribute to our fallen comrades by reaffirming our Kenyan unity and way of life based on the values of human rights, equality, freedom, democracy, social justice and the rule of law.

     

     

    Atsango Chesoni

    Executive Director the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC)

    | END

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    Last Updated ( Thursday, 09 April 2015 15:26 )
     
    Written by KHRC    Wednesday, 01 April 2015 16:20   
    Harnessing Transitional Justice Experiences around Africa to Amplify Public Voice in Governance

    1ST April 2015, Nairobi Kenya || The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) participated in a two-day Regional Consultation on a Transitional Justice Study on 30th – 31st March 2014. It was hosted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR). The objective of this regional consultation was to review recent developments in to transitional justice in East and Southern Africa by seeking input from transitional justice experts and practitioners from the region for consideration in the study.

    The meeting agreed that the ACHPR was well equipped to address transitional justice concerns courtesy of the normative framework provided by the African Charter on Human and Peoples and Rights. The challenge lies in how to purposefully channel the mandate of the commission towards realizing the right to a remedy and reparations for gross human rights violations. The study should yield practical policy options for the Commission towards the same.

    The meeting resolved to ensure that the different contextual experiences with transitional justice currently unfolding on the continent would be harnessed not only for the ACHPR study, but would be used to infuse the public voice in other governance processes such as the Africa Union Transitional Justice Framework (ATJF) and Africa Governance Architecture (AGA).

    It was also agreed that participants would work to enhance the promotion and protection mandate of the ACHPR through active and increased engagement with it as civil society. To this end, KHRC committed itself to facilitate capacity enhancement initiatives that would encourage other civil society organizations to engage with ACHPR and also expand spaces for dialogue between civil society and other AU organs.

    KHRC contributed as part of a six-member advisory committee to the study appointed by the African Commission to enrich its research processes and validate its findings. KHRC as an advisory committee member to this study endeavoured to infuse Kenya's contextual experience with transitional justice and advocate for a more focused and resourced African Commission on this issue.

    The other members to the Advisory Committee are: The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation of South Africa which is also the secretariat for the study; The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR); Fambul Tok International, Sierra Leone; International Peace Institute (West African Research Fellow); The Refugee Law Project from Uganda and; the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.|| END

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    Written by KHRC    Wednesday, 01 April 2015 16:13   
    Pledge Must Have Real Meaning for Victims

    1st April 2015 | The President’s third State of the Nation Address marked a pivotal turning point in Kenya’s transitional justice agenda. Acknowledging our tragic history of mass human rights violations, the President:

    • Called for Parliament to process the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) report;
    • Instructed the Treasury to establish a fund of Kenya Shillings 10 billion for restorative justice and;
    • Took the unprecedented step of making an apology on his own behalf, that of his government and on behalf of all past governments for historical violations.

    This is arguably the boldest political commitment to addressing historical injustices in recent memory. However more must be done if it is to prove meaningful to victims. The President must exert his political influence on Parliament to ensure they enact a comprehensive implementation framework for the TJRC report. The framework must respond to all findings and recommendations of the report, ensure the full participation and consultation of victims, maintain transparency in its operations and have accountability to the public on the progress made in implementing the report. As party leader of the majority Jubilee Coalition in Parliament, the President must ensure that the parliamentary debate does not lead to editing of the TJRC report or mutilation of its findings and recommendations.

    The President’s embrace of restorative justice is indeed welcome but requires clarity. The proposed fund though necessary, must be based on a clear understanding of who the victims are and what their needs are. We would urge the President to commit to the reparations policy outlined in the TJRC report as the basis for utilizing this fund. The reparations policy identifies restoring the dignity of victims as a key objective, outlines the types of reparation and provides a categorization of victims that allows for a systematic and realistic approach to processing claims. Lessons must be learnt from past experiences such as Operation Rudi Nyumbani.

    The apology offered by the President is a significant step forward but must be owned by all State organs, especially those the TJRC report has called on to apologize specifically alongside the President such as the Kenya Defence Forces and Kenya Police Service. More needs to be done to specifically recognize the various victim groups and their experiences through memorialization as part of the reconciliation process. The apology must translate into a reflection on the progress made in reforming State institutions previously accused of committing human rights violations. Are we assured of non-repetition and a change in the moral character of these institutions as the apology suggests?

    The President has reawakened a yearning for justice among victims of Kenya’s historical injustices and invited the Kenyan public to imagine that true reconciliation and cohesion is indeed possible in our lifetimes. KHRC will remain vigilant in ensuring that the government maintains fidelity to the restoration of dignity to victims that embraces the approach of “nothing for us without us”. Restorative justice exercises a sacred trust with victims that must not be betrayed. END

    For media inquiries please contact:

    Audrey Kawire Wabwire | Communications Manager | This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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