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Written by KHRC    Thursday, 26 March 2015 15:49   
Joint Press Statement by Kenyan Women & Civil Society Organizations on the Sexual Offences Against Women

26th March 2015 | Sexual violence against women has been condoned and survivors are still blamed and put on the defense by the public and law enforcement agents. Whereas we recognize the efforts made by the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) so far, we demand swift action against all cases of sexual violence, and specifically the recent allegations of rape and grievous indecent assault reportedly perpetrated by Gideon Mwiti, the Member of Parliament for Imenti Central and others.

Sexual violence by duty bearers and those in positions of authority has often been let to fizzle out once public outrage on the issue dies. Regrettably, indecent assault, sexual and gender based violence and related violations have not been adequately addressed. There are hundreds of cases of this nature that underscore how dire the situation is becoming. More must be done to protect women and girls from sexual violence, and to ensure that they are not made vulnerable in the hands of those in public leadership.

These violations have gone unaddressed despite the existence of strong legislative framework such as the Sexual Offences Act 2006 and other laws of Kenya which criminalize all forms of sexual violence. Moreover, Kenya has ratified and domesticated several regional and international human rights instruments such as the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), The Maputo Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and Zero Tolerance to Violence against Women for the Great Lakes Region, among others which offer the requisite legal obligations of the State. These affirm the State’s responsibility to protect women and girls from sexual and gender based violence.

This responsibility has been affirmed and further emphasized by the commitment by the His Excellency the President Uhuru Kenyatta in his support for women’s rights when he launched the “He for She” campaign in Kenya on 24th November 2014 saying

“I am He For She because gender equality is not only a woman’s issue, it is a human rights issue that requires my participation. I as the President of Kenya, I commit to take action against all forms of violence against women and girls.”~ Uhuru Kenyatta 24/11/2014 [emphasis added]

Despite the existence of these legal and political commitments we have in the recent past witnessed a disturbing increase in reported incidences of sexual violence against women and girls in Kenya:

  • In February this year, it was widely reported by the media that Juja Member of Parliament, Francis Waititu was allegedly suspected of sexually harassing a female member of his staff, including by sending her sexually offensive messages. The inaction by relevant offices against this MP is heavily accentuated by a disturbing and deafening silence on the issue.
  • In the last couple of days, a Female Member of Parliament on official mission with the President of the Republic of Kenya reported that she had been subjected to indignifying and violent sexual advances from a fellow male Member of Parliament. Again, there has been resounding silence and inaction on the matter!
  • The Members of Parliament have not spared the female law enforcement officers either. A traffic police woman in Nakuru was allegedly assaulted by a member of parliament resulting in actual bodily harm and there is still significant silence on the same.

These are just but a few alarming reports that have made their way to the media. Increasingly, there has been a worrying trend of rape and other sexual violence being meted against women and girls in Kenya, with little or no action taken to apprehend and prosecute the offenders and safeguard the rights of women and girls. Most unsettling is that on Saturday the 21st March 2015, a helpless mother of two allegedly came face to face with this monster of sexual violence occasioned against her by the Imenti Central Member of Parliament. The sexual violations and acts of indecent assault included:-

  1. The Member of Parliament with the help of his personal assistant administering a substance with intent to subdue her;
  2. Trespassing on her privacy by instructing his private medical practitioner to forcefully conduct an HIV test against her will;
  3. Physically assaultingher, causing actual bodily harm; and
  4. Engaged in the heinous act of rape,
  5. To make matters worse the alleged perpetrator has embarked on a mission to intimidate and compromise the survivor, her family and possible witnesses in the case.
  6. To exacerbate the matter. The MP continues to receive preferential treatment while in custody. i.e. having dinner with the top investigating officers, not spent a single night in custody, driven around the city in a convoy of police vehicle supposedly other tight security ( Daily Nation, Thursday, March 26, 2015 Page 4)

Unfortunately, this is a familiar story for a number of women who have been the innocent victims of sexual violence in Kenya. Many women continue to cry for justice without the prospects of ever receiving any. A woman’s dignity and bodily integrity is priceless! Obtaining justice for the indignifying violations remains a mirage for many victims! Kenya is slowly and painfully etching out a reputation of being an unsafe country for women and girls with rapists and defilers walking scott-free. It is abominable that members of Parliament who are mandated with passing laws that safeguard our rights and better our societies would behave in such a DISHONORABLE manner!

The prevalent culture of the dehumanization of women as sexual objects for men’s gratification along with the bizarre myth, attitudes and assumptions that men cannot control their sexual desires must be fervently abhorred.

We DECLARE THAT ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!! to All acts of violence against women and girls and STATE that full responsibility and action to ensure their safety and protection of their human rights is upheld!! In so doing, we uphold our humanity with the hope that we can create a better world for us ALL – where we treat each other with dignity and respect, regardless of age, class, sex, ethnic or dress as provided in article 27 of our Constitution.

The Government of Kenya must live up to its role and discharge its obligations under national, regional and international law and effectively protect women and girls from sexual and gender based violence. It is imperative that the Government ensures that our women and girls are safe in every part of this Country.

We therefore demand that:-

  • The Inspector General of Police swiftly moves to comprehensively, independently and objectively investigate these allegations and make recommendations for prosecution of the perpetrators;
  • The Speakers of the National Assembly- Parliament and Senate uphold integrity through development of a code of conduct, including a sexual harassment and gender based violence Policy regulating the conduct amongst the members of the national assembly, staff and officials. Any suspected member of the National Assembly should be suspended from their duties until they are cleared of the allegations by a court of law.
  • The JudiciaryOperationalizes the Sexual Offenders Register and make it accessible
  • The Judiciary further establishes a Sexual Gender Based Violence Court within the judicial system to provide privacy and expedite the cases on sexual violence in the shortest time possible in a safe environment.
  • The Director of Public Prosecution to establish a gender based violence department within his office that will facilitate expedition of cases of crimes of sexual violence ensuring the observance of the rule of law.
  • The Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry of Devolution and Planning, to facilitate full implementation and mainstreaming of all sexual and gender based violence policies and frameworks across all Government bodies at both the national and county levels.
  • We call upon the Commission on Administrative Justice, Public Service Commission, Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, to expedite their role in promoting national values and principles by ensuring all public officials, accused of sexual crimes relinquish their positions until their cases are heard and determined. Any person whose name appears in the sexual offenders register must not be cleared for any public office, whether appointive or elective. .

We call for the Media to conduct comprehensive awareness, sensitization and empowerment campaigns to help prevent the gross human rights violations on women. This should include information on how to report cases, where to report cases and every person’s role in protecting women from these brutal attacks by callous individuals.

We also urge the public to be vigilant and break the culture of silence around these atrocities by reporting all cases of sexual defilement, abuse and violence of women, girls, children within families, schools, public spaces and the community at large.

May justice be served! Pamoja Tutetee Haki!

Endorsers: attached

  1. Women’s Empowerment Link (WEL)
  2. Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC)-
  3. FIDA Kenya
  4. Center for Rights Education and Awareness(CREAW)
  5. AKILI DADA.
  6. Maendeleo ya Wanawake
  7. African Women Child Features(AWCFS)
  8. International Rescue Committee
  9. Action Aid International Kenya
  10. Girl Child Network
  11. Association of Media Women In Kenya (AMWIK)
  12. Association of Professional Women with Disabilities
  13. FEMNET
  14. Youth Agenda
  15. Inuka
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Last Updated ( Thursday, 26 March 2015 15:57 )
 
Written by KHRC    Friday, 20 March 2015 16:39   
Corruption Cancer in Kenya

 20th March 2015, Nairobi || The recent spate of corruption allegations as reported by the media is depictive of the literal collapse of our governance structures in the country. Despite the entry of a constitutional dispensation that expects government premised on human rights, equality, freedom, democracy, social justice and the rule of law; it is now apparent that corruption has been embraced as a constant variable in government whichever the regime. An overwhelmed security apparatus and deteriorating health sector cannot be viewed in isolation when the government concedes that half of the annual budget is either misappropriated or ‘squandered’. It is unacceptable to have such corruption go unpunished, characterized by investigations leading to dead ends and inquiry reports that remain buried or are utilized selectively as political weapons.

 Corruption has behaved like a cancer that has spread beyond economic sabotage, and ventured into the destruction of our democratic system. It has derailed our aspirations for national cohesion. The failure to demonstrate progress in the fight against corruption points to a political leadership that has not learnt anything from the 2007-08 Post-Election Violence. The Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation process led by Koffi Annan, and including most of today’s political leaders identified the lack of transparency, accountability and impunity as one of the root causes for the conflict. Kenya will inevitably return to violence if the disparities between the rich and the poor are allowed to subsist in the face of continued looting of public resources.

 KHRC hereby calls on the President to display political responsibility by immediately purging his Executive of officers accused of corruption rather than shuffling them within government. The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the Director of Public Prosecutions must swiftly conclude all pending investigations and mount proper prosecutions in the courts of law. Kenyans can no longer be subjected to endless procrastination when dealing with the so-called ‘high-voltage files’. Kenyans, as owners of sovereign power must challenge their political leadership and demand that they comply with a higher standard of leadership and integrity. KHRC undertakes to confront errant leadership through legal channels and galvanize the public to demand accountability at all levels of government.

 We appeal for a return to the enthusiasm and sense of purpose that saw Kenyans enforce citizen arrests against officers who would dare take bribes. Corruption is at the heart of what ails our country and if it is allowed to persist, it will consume us all.

 

                                                                       || END

 

Media Inquiries: Audrey Kawire Wabwire | Communications Manager | Kenya Human Rights Commission | Opposite Valley Arcade, Gitanga Road | P.O Box 41079, 00100 GPO, Nairobi, Kenya | Tel. +254-020-3874998/9 3876065/6

 

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Last Updated ( Friday, 20 March 2015 16:48 )
 
Written by KHRC    Wednesday, 18 March 2015 16:24   
Privacy and Surveillance in the Digital Age

(New York, NY), March 18, 2015 – The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) joined representatives from more than a dozen civil liberties and privacy groups from around the world who gathered in New York to discuss global digital surveillance and privacy issues.

The gathering, organized by the International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations (INCLO), took place on March 5-6, 2015 and was hosted by Columbia University Law School.

Entitled “Privacy in the Digital Age,” the convening examined where we are now and where we are going in wake of the Snowden revelations, which revealed the enormous scope of both US and international government surveillance.

The idea behind the INCLO gathering was to review challenges and compare strategies for reining in surveillance regimes and promoting privacy protections at the national level, and to explore more systematic involvement for INCLO on informational privacy issues at the national and international level.

The convening opened with a briefing by Edward Snowden, who joined the group via Skype, and spelled out the dangers of the far-reaching surveillance powers now being deployed not only by the US but by many other countries as well.

As part of the two-day conference, INCLO organized two panels that were open to the public. The first, entitled “What Would U.S. Surveillance Reform Look Like and Do We Need It?” was a discussion between Jameel Jaffer, Deputy Legal Director of the ACLU, and Robert Litt, the General Counsel of the U.S. Director of National Intelligence. The panelists agreed that in order to maintain trust in the government, the public needs information about the government’s surveillance authorities and activities, though they fundamentally disagreed on the adequacy of existing oversight mechanisms.

The second public panel, “How the Snowden Revelations are Reshaping Global Perceptions of Privacy & Big Brother: Perspectives from Around the World,” featured President Emeritus of the Open Society Foundations, Aryeh Neier, moderating a discussion with the Brazilian Ambassador to the United Nations, Antonio de Aguiar Patriota and representatives from civil liberties groups from Hungary, Germany, Brazil, the UK and the US.

The panel addressed, among other questions, how their governments, the public and technology companies reacted to the Snowden disclosures. The speakers agreed that the revelations have created momentum to push for reform and limit mass surveillance.

Participants in the conference included the following INCLO members: American Civil Liberties Union, Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales, Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, Irish Council for Civil Liberties, Kenya Human Rights Commission, Liberty, Legal Resources Centre, and also Antivigilancia, Columbia Law School, the Ford Foundation, Italian Coalition for Civil Liberties, Matrix Chambers, Open Society Foundation, Privacy International, Renewable Freedom Foundation, Stiftung Neue Verantwortung, Transnational Institute, US Office of the Director of National Intelligence and University of Pennsylvania.

For Media booking contact:

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

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Written by KHRC    Friday, 06 March 2015 17:07   
South Sudan: Seventy-six organizations call for publication of AU Inquiry Report as deadline for peace passes

Released: 6 March 2015

The African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) should immediately consider, publish and disseminate the final report of the Commission of Inquiry into human rights violations and abuses committed in South Sudan said 76 organizations in an open letter to the 15 PSC member states.

In January 2015, AUPSC members decided to defer consideration or publication of the African Union Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan (AUCISS) report because they thought it would obstruct the achievement of a peace agreement. But as a 5 March deadline for reaching a final agreement has now passed, the organizations renewed calls for the report to be published.

“A culture of impunity has fuelled South Sudan’s conflict and emboldened combatants to target civilians, commit sexual violence, destroy and loot civilian property without fear of legal consequences,” said Arnold Tsunga, Africa Director of the International Commission of Jurists. “The release of the report could help deter further atrocities, by bringing to light what has taken place and making more real the prospect of accountability,”

For over a year, parties to the conflict have demonstrated disregard for international human rights and humanitarian law. UNICEF recently reported the forced recruitment of what it believes may be hundreds of children in Upper Nile state to serve in a government-allied militia group.

The AUCISS had the mandate to investigate human right abuses and violations in South Sudan and make recommendations on the best ways to ensure accountability, reconciliation and healing.

“The Government and the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLM-IO) have already agreed that a comprehensive system of transitional justice—including truth and reconciliation, criminal prosecution, reparations and institutional reforms—is necessary for achieving sustainable peace,” said David Deng, research director with South Sudan Law Society. “The AUCISS recommendations could make an important contribution to the design of such processes.”

In their letter to AUPSC members, the organisations urged the immediate publication of the report in order to honour the expectations of victims and witnesses of atrocities who recounted painful experiences in order to contribute to a more complete record of the conflict.

“Hundreds of people took time to speak with members of the AUCISS because they thought the report could make a positive contribution to the future of South Sudan. Shelving the report demonstrates a complete disregard for the individuals whose testimonies, ideas, and opinions were used to compile the report,” said Frans Viljoen, Director of the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria.

The seventy-six organizations reminded the PSC of its obligations under the PSC Protocol to promote “good governance and the rule of law, protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, respect for the sanctity of human life and international humanitarian law, as part of its efforts for preventing conflicts.”

“We urge you to prove wrong those who doubt the commitment of the AU to justice and accountability by receiving, considering, and immediately publishing the AUCISS report,” the letter concludes.

Background 

The PSC is the AU’s standing decision-making organ for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts. Its current members are Algeria, Burundi, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Libya, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Only two weeks after the outbreak of violence in Juba in December 2013, the PSC called on the African Union Commission to establish a commission of inquiry. In March 2014, Chairperson of the AU Commission, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma presided over the swearing in of the six members of the AUCISS: former president of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo (the chairperson), Sophia A. B. Akuffo, Mahmood Mamdani, Bineta Diop, and Pacifique Manirakiza.

In June the Commission submitted an interim report to the PSC and was granted a three month extension of its mandate to complete work. In its June interim report, the AUCISS promised that the recommendations to be included in its final report would contribute to finding lasting solutions to the crisis in South Sudan.

The PSC heads of state were scheduled to consider the AUCISS report on 29 January 2015, but instead decided to “defer consideration [of the report] to a later date.” The chairperson, Olusegun Obasanjo was not given an opportunity to present the report’s content and the report was not distributed to the PSC members.

Meanwhile, the Government of South Sudan has made no credible efforts to hold accountable individuals responsible for crimes under international law and other serious violations and abuses of international human rights law.

Negotiations between the Government of South Sudan and the SPLM-IO are being brokered by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an eight-member regional body. Despite multiple commitments to cease hostilities, the conflict has continued. On 1 February President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar signed an agreement committing to conclude a final peace agreement by 5 March. Despite this, negotiations have failed to result in a final agreement.

For more information or to arrange an interview contact:

For the Association of Women for the Development and Culture of Peace in Chad: Céline Narmadji, (+235) 66 29 40 85 / 99 12 13 59, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

For Amnesty International: Mildred Ngesa, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , +254 732 495 215  

For International Commission of Jurists: Arnold Tsunga, +27 (71) 6405926, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

For the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria: Frans Viljoen, +27 012 4203228, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

For the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation: Friederike Bubenzer, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

For the South Sudan Law Society (SSLS): David Deng, +254 703754068 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

For Assistance Missions for Africa: James Ninrew Dong, +211 955224368, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

For the Institute on Human Rights and Development in Africa: Djeugoue Brice Martial, +2207751208, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ,

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Last Updated ( Friday, 06 March 2015 17:11 )
 
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