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Written by KHRC    Monday, 04 August 2014 14:08   
Regional Conference on Promoting Long Term Election Observation with a focus on Voter Registration

Atsango Chseoni,Executive Director, KHRC addressing the media during; Promoting long term election observation regional conferenceAtsango Chseoni,Executive Director, KHRC addressing the media during; Promoting long term election observation regional conference

The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), The Elections Observation  Group (ELOG) and The East and Horn Africa Election Observers Network (E-HORN) have joined efforts and organised a regional conference commencing today the 4th to 6th August, at Ole - Sereni Hotel, Nairobi.

The conference seeks to assess the overall performance and effectiveness of long term election observation and monitoring as a process through which an election is scrutinized and evaluated for purposes of determining its impartiality in terms of organization and administration.

Among those invited are representatives from civil society organizations involved in election observation in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan and Sudan, regional observer networks such SADC-ESN and WAEON; the election
management body in Kenya (IEBC); developmental partners; EHORN secretariat; and the Kenya Human Rights Commission staff who will seek to exchange knowledge and experiences that will contribute to improving the integrity of elections through long term election observation activities.

Election observation in Africa tends to be heavily focused on procedures on polling day yet this is only one aspect of the election process. The opportunities for abuse are usually created, deliberately in the pre-election period when the voter register is prepared, political parties formed and registered, candidates nominated and campaigns carried out. On the other hand the election observation period of field presence is often too short to cover the entire process and hardly is the number of observers sufficient to ensure adequate coverage.

The main strategy proposed for dealing with this problem is to employ a system of long-term observation as opposed to short-term observation. While short-term observation covers the activities of voting, vote counting and the declaration of results, long-term observation involves observing the events that define the electoral process from the setting up of electoral management bodies, voter registration, voter education, political party registration, candidate nomination political campaigning and media issues, voting and the counting through to the swearing in of elected regimes.

Admittedly, most of the observation bodies in Africa have been struggling to operationalize the concept of long term observation. This has been exacerbated by lack of or limited resources in the post-election period. As a result, most
long term observation attempts have remained informal and limited in scope hence reduce in effectiveness. These problems can be tackled within a framework of institutionalized observation in which a universally acceptable mechanism that is bilaterally agreed upon is employed. This is what informs the need to have a regional conference aimed at engaging peer to peer to come up with a resolution on the way forward in the region.

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Last Updated ( Monday, 04 August 2014 14:42 )
 
Written by KHRC    Thursday, 24 July 2014 06:06   
KHRC Statement on Ground Breaking Ceremony for the Memorial to Victims of Torture and Ill-treatment During the Colonial Era (1952- 1963)

Mzee Gitu Wakahengeri, Mau Mau War Veterans Association Spokesperson address the media during the ground breaking ceremony on Tuesday July 22, 2014. Flanking him on the right is the British High Commissioner to Kenya, Dr. Christian Turner.Mzee Gitu Wakahengeri, Mau Mau War Veterans Association Spokesperson address the media during the ground breaking ceremony on Tuesday July 22, 2014. Flanking him on the right is the British High Commissioner to Kenya, Dr. Christian Turner.

On 6th June, 2013 the British Government and the Mau Mau War Veterans Association (MMWVA) and with support from the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) reached an out of court settlement with respect to the case of Ndiku Mutua and Four Others – V – Commonwealth Office HQ09X02666.  This settlement had three components:

  1. A statement of regret which was made on behalf of the British Government by its Foreign Secretary the Right Honourable William Hague;
  2. An ex-gratia payment of British Sterling Pounds 2,650 being Kshs. 340,000/- to each of 5,228 claimants identified as having suffered acts of torture; and
  3. The construction of a “Memorial to the Victims of Torture and Ill-treatment During the Colonial Era (1952-1963)”.

The settlement was duly approved and expressly authorized by the clients as required by law.

To encourage public participation a Mau Mau design competition was held and at least 5 entries from interested designers were received. The winning design was announced on 22nd May, 2014.  Today, 22nd July, 2014 we gather here to break ground for the construction of the memorial. It is designed as a memorialization feature for the remembrance of all victims of torture and ill treatment during the colonial era.

We commend the MMWVA; for their resilience in ensuring that they see the reparations process through to the memorial process. The British High Commission (BHC) with whom we continue to enjoy a cordial relationship.  We are grateful to the National Museums of Kenya for offering their expertise on memorization processes. We thank the Nairobi County for offering the construction site at the Freedom Corner and agreeing to meet some of the costs towards construction of path ways leading to the monument.

The Next Steps in this process are:

  1. The unveiling of the monument which we hope will be done in December on Jamhuri Day;
  2. The establishment of a Mau Mau on line library by December;
  3. Continuous support for the cause for actualization of justice for victims of torture and injustice in the post-colonial era; and
  4. Scaling up of advocacy to regional and international levels to ensure that heroines, heroes and indeed other victims of past injustices are appreciated in processes and series of symbols and joint interventions that can firmly condemn these past evils as well as start a discourse that would offer a lasting insulation against regression to such atrocities.

Once again thank you for being here with us today.

Atsango Chesoni, 22nd July, 2014

Executive Director, the KHRC

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 24 July 2014 06:23 )
 
Written by KHRC    Wednesday, 18 June 2014 11:20   
STATEMENT ON THE LAUNCH OF KHRC’S POSITION PAPER ON THE LAPSSET PROJECT

LAPPSET Project Ground Breaking PlaqueLAPPSET Project Ground Breaking PlaqueThe Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) is deeply saddened by the recent tragedy in Mpeketoni. We convey our deepest condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives during the attacks. Sudden death is met by unmitigated difficulty and unanswered questions. We stand with the families of the victims and the people of Lamu during this difficult time. We keep them in our thoughts and prayers.

KHRC is here today to present the findings of a series of fact-finding missions carried out between March 2011 and April 2014 with the sole purpose of interrogating the validity of community fears in regards to the proposed Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor Project. In this respect KHRC is pleased to present, “Forgotten in the Scramble and Partition of Lamu: The Case of the Aweer and the Fisherfolk.” This Position Paper documents concerns voiced throughout KHRC’s collaboration with various community based organizations based in Lamu.

The LAPSSET Corridor Project will usher in an extensive industrial and infrastructural system that is powered by an emerging local oil economy. The Project aims to, among others, catalyze regional trade between Kenya, South Sudan and Ethiopia, ultimately, a wider reach, as far as Cameroon. Locally, the Project aspires to create jobs and opportunities for business as well as access to social amenities within a region - Northern part of Kenya - which has, historically, been condemned to its own devices. It is illustrative that the arid North remains the hub of long-standing economic marginalization in Kenya.

Under the Economic and Social Rights Programme (ESR) thematic set-up, the KHRC engages with past and contemporary developments relating to the economic, social and cultural rights of communities. The protection of economic, social and cultural rights is integral to sustainable development. The Constitution of Kenya, 2010 provides that protecting and promoting these rights is not solely the obligation of the government; on the contrary, the wider civil society and corporate entities are enjoined in this quest.

While development projects create jobs and open up formerly remote and underpopulated areas, the host communities rarely benefit from these jobs, urbanization and the much needed change. This is because often, members of the host community to majority of development projects in rural Africa cannot immediately qualify for the jobs created, or afford to buy or rent the lovely new houses built or pay for the upgraded education, healthcare, electricity, water and sanitation systems that mega development projects bring. As the new business opportunities created by development projects attract new investors, entrepreneurs and skilled and semi-skilled workers, members of the host community, and particularly indigenous communities have two choices:- i) to engage in the new economy but from a powerless position at the bottom by offering menial, unskilled and semi-skilled labour; or ii) to relocate; be displaced by receding deeper into the periphery to establish a new informal settlements where their now reduced incomes can support a living.

One may argue that those displaced by development projects are almost always paid some compensation to facilitate resettlement and relocate voluntarily, it is important to note that often, the compensation paid or resettlement support given is inadequate to make a fresh start from an empowered position. Consequently, there is need to seriously guard against development projects creating new poverty – greater impoverishment, disempowerment and invisibility; amongst the very host communities that the project was intended to uplift out of poverty. This is what the people of Lamu and particularly the indigenous Aweer fear will and is happening to them.

This resultant position paper raises critical questions on the value, purpose and intended beneficiaries of development projects in Kenya. Whose lives should be positively transformed by the discovery of oil in Kenya or from an investment of the magnitude of the LAPSSET Project? What is the role of the state, international agencies, and the private industrial sector in promoting the interests /human rights of vulnerable populations such as indigenous communities, small scale producers and grossly marginalized host communities, facing the prospect of the introduction of a dominant economic activity?

We welcome you to read the position paper, interrogate it and utilize the lessons learnt towards contributing to a society that respects human rights. The paper is a product of a dedicated team of practitioners and resource persons; too many to enumerate.

The KHRC greatly appreciates the people of Lamu and in particular, the individuals and organisations that make up the Lamu Human Rights Network; with Jafar Omar; Ahmed Famau, Hababa Noor; Hadija Hamid; Muhammed Sadiq; Sharifa Abubakar and Maamun Abubakar warranting specific mention. KHRC also appreciates the invaluable contribution of leaders of the Aweer community, the fisher-folk of Lamu as well as the Lamu Beach Management Unit, Save Lamu, Inuka Kenya Trust and the Secure Project who all must be singled out for gratitude. Your concerns, data gathering and information sharing are the subject of this report. Thank you for trusting the KHRC to articulate these and for your logistical support in validating the same.

The KHRC is also indebted to Andrew Charles Odete for leading the fact-finding mission, information compilation and drafting this  position paper, with the support of Maryanne Mburu, Douglas Odhiambo, Fridah Kaimuri, Herman Omiti, Florence Njoroge, Marie Utetiwabo; Jakline Wanja and Paulina Warinda. Great thanks to George Morara, Esther Waweru, Achieng Orero, Maureen Mugesani, Martin Mavenjina, Fred Njehu, Samwel Oyomo, Martin Pepela and Faith Alubbe for providing invaluable support during the fact-finding missions in Lamu.

For their technical insight, the KHRC is indebted to Commissioner Lawrence Mute, Sara Singh, Steph Booker, Hadija Ernst, Davis Malombe, Sylvia Kithinji, Nduta Kweheria and Andrew Songa as well as to well as the KHRC editorial team comprising of Beth Nduta, Vincent Musebe, Julie Kingsland, Francis Akali, Kathleen Rubia and Beryl Aidi.

To our partners, the Norwegian Government, who made this publication possible by providing the financial support necessary to successfully complete this project, we are singularly grateful.

Lastly, the KHRC appreciates the support of its board of directors and secretariat staff in ensuring the successful implementation of this project.

Atsango Chesoni

Executive Director

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 18 June 2014 11:33 )
 
Written by KHRC    Tuesday, 17 June 2014 06:14   
GIVE US OUR SAFE KENYA BACK

 Ozi Village completely destroyed. File Picture from Tana Delta violence in 2012 Ozi Village completely destroyed. File Picture from Tana Delta violence in 2012PRESS STATEMENT

Nairobi, June 17, 2014

The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) is alarmed at the continued deterioration of the security situation in the country. In a press conference last year in December, 2013 the KHRC illustrated the increase in insecurity in the country at the time. It is thus unacceptable that for a country trying to turn around its economy (development) insecurity remains a dominant feature in our news today and it manifests itself in many ways. It is with grave concern that hundreds have lost their lives and others nursing serious injuries, thousands have been displaced and millions of shillings in property and investment destroyed.

Grave human rights violations due to widespread insecurity

The human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people living in Kenya continue to be violated unabatedly. In the past several months Kenya has witnessed what has been called terror attacks in places of business and worship for the very ordinary citizens from the nerve centre of Kenya, Nairobi to our coastal city Mombasa with the most recent attack of yesterday evening in Mpeketoni, Lamu, where 48 people including security personnel were reportedly killed. The violence and insecurity is wide-ranging from the murders in Kitengela that were meticulously planned and executed even before Bungoma could cool off, all the way to the counties of Wajir, Mandera and Garissa where ethnic and clan conflict is rife as well as intensified cattle rustling in Samburu, Baringo, Turkana. These acts of terror target very innocent children; the youthful population, men and women alike.

Ineffective state security response

The KHRC decries the fact that the deteriorating security situation is made worse by the apparent failure of security governance at national and county levels manifested in the collective irresponsible acts of commission and omission. It is intolerable that corruption, unemployment, poverty, ethnic and religious intolerance and inequality in Kenya remain the dominant causes of insecurity as well as factors fuelling insecurity and conflict in many parts of the country.  In the face of these colossal and continually widening crises confronting our Nation, the state governance and political leadership continue to be incapable of rising to the occasion, while the military and security forces along with the intelligence services continue to dither, as if overwhelmed by the challenge.

The KHRC is further deeply concerned that leaders have resorted to the all too familiar reactionary mode of giving instructions and orders without the benefit of insightful and actionable information and intelligence. Such instructions have engendered forms of discrimination and ethnic profiling leading to inhuman treatment of individual such as evident in   “Usalama Watch Operation”; targeted security checks; policy declaration on biometric registration without the requisite legislative support; and government resorting to collecting and counting bodies rather than providing security.

Alienation of communities amid political blame games

It is critical for the state to realize that such actions results in alienation of communities who would otherwise provide useful intelligence information towards preventing attacks. Such actions also result in polarisation of the Kenyan society along ethnic, religious and class lines which thence portend a major security crisis.  KHRC further notes with grave concern the manner in which Parliament continues to abdicate its constitutional responsibility of exercising oversight over security matters affecting the country. The political class continues to engage in an endless blame game geared at furthering their campaigns’ for the next term clearly ignoring the effect of insecurity of the country they so badly decide to have power over.

At such a critical moment, all Kenyans are obligated by the sovereign power they possess to make their voices heard, and call the leadership to order. Notwithstanding the fact that all people must at all times undertake all measures possible to ensure that our country is secure, the Constitution of Kenya confers primary obligation to secure safety and security for all people living in Kenya on the government of Kenya. This responsibility must however be executed within the confines of the rule of law and protection and promotion of all rights of all people and groups.

MOVING FORWARD

The KHRC demands that as a measure of the seriousness of the current situation that all arms of government cease their bickering and superiority contests and as a matter of urgency convene to put in place mechanisms and frameworks to address insecurity. We insist that just this once they prioritise the collective interests of our people over their individual greed.

Specifically we call upon;

  1. The executive and relevant organs to fast-track comprehensive reforms of the national security organs in the country; to ensure that immediate steps be are taken towards realizing an improved coordination among security services, agencies and relevant constitutional bodies;
  2. The executive and National Assembly to fast-tract the formulation and enactment of a national policy on security which will provide legal backing and clear framework for comprehensive security sector reforms;
  3. The KHRC finally calls on all the citizens and non-citizens of Kenya to uphold the sanctity and dignity of human life and as such take responsibility of their individual security as well as promote the security, human rights and dignity of all their fellow human beings;
  4. The National Assembly to move with speed to enact the Identification and Registration of Persons Bill to enable the biometric Integrated Population Registration System;
  5. Finally, we impress upon the President to set up an all-inclusive and professional taskforce to interrogate the root causes and factors of the increase in  terror attacks, conflicts and insecurity in the country, and publicly present a conclusive report within specified timelines to the executive further policy and legislative actions
  6. The National Assembly to give cognisance and legislative and budgetary strength to the now almost redundant National Cohesion and Integration Commission to deal with ethnic and religious tensions.

Finally and most importantly the KHRC wishes to register our sincere condolences to the families of the many civilians as well as the many security personnel who have lost their loved ones, those who were injured or lost property during any of the senseless incidences of insecurity and conflict witnessed in the country. We hope that deaths of the many children, women, men including those gallant security officers who died in the line of duty will not be in vain, instead the state will embrace a human rights based approach to security and that all leaders and citizens will rise above ethnic, class, political and other affiliation, work together and strive to bring back safe Kenya.

The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) is a premier non-governmental human rights and governance institution that was founded in 1991. Our mission is to foster human rights, democratic values, human dignity and social justice, with the mandate of securing human rights states and societies. Its founders and staff are among the foremost leaders and activists in struggles for human rights and democratic reforms in Kenya. KHRC works at community level with human rights networks across Kenya and links community, national and international human rights concerns.

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 17 June 2014 06:41 )
 
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