Monday, September 14, 2009

Threats to Human Rights Defenders

Friday, January 11, 2008

Threats To Human Rights Defenders
Statement From Kenyans for Peace with Truth and JusticeWe speak in the name of Kenya’s governance, human rights and legal organizations, as well as the concerned citizens who have contacted and chosen to work with us over the last two weeks.For the past two weeks, we have met and organized, to understand and make public what happened with the counting and tallying process of our Presidential vote, as well as the nature of the violence experienced across the country since. With respect to the former, it is our considered and informed opinion that the electoral malpractices and illegalities experienced invalidate the swearing in of Mwai Kibaki. With respect to the latter, it is our considered and informed opinion that the violence being experienced is of four forms:1) disorganised and spontaneous protest expressed anarchically; 2) organised militia activity first in the Rift Valley and now in Central and Nyanza; 3) disproportionate use of force by the Kenya Police Force and the General Service Unit; 4)and, more recently, retributive communal actions inspired by the experiences narrated by the inflow of internally displaced persons. We have consistently condemned all four forms.We have also continually reiterated the need for the Kenyan Police Force and the General Service Unit to respect the right of all Kenyans to the freedoms of expression, assembly and association to respond, legally and legitimately, to both the counting and tallying process of our Presidential vote, as well as the violence experienced across the country since. We have supported citizens’ desires to come together to do so while compiling our empirical evidence on the same for imminent release to the public. We have engaged with interested political actors as well as those involved within the mediation process, to seek meaningful ways forward that will secure sustainable peace on the basis of electoral truth, and electoral and post-electoral justice.We stress, in the strongest possible terms, that it is:1) within our rights as individual citizens and 2) within the legally recognised mandates of our various institutions and organisations to have done so- and to continue to do so. We therefore note, with deepest concern, information received from no less than four sources within the Kenyan Police Force and the National Security Intelligence Service, that points to the personal safety and security of some of our members now being at risk. Most notable of those named (but not the only one) is Maina Kiai, Chair of the Kenya National Commission of Human Rights. We are advised by these sources of a special unit being formed to consider methods for our neutralisation. We have been warned to be cautious while driving alone, or at night, as the most obvious of methods would be to mask deliberate attacks as common criminality, such as carjacking, or calculated road accidents.We do not take this information lightly. While we may consider our efforts almost insignificant in light of their immediate impact on the larger events around us, we are aware that in today’s highly charged political atmosphere, the expression of, and action on, independent opinion is considered politically partisan. Particularly when such expression and action is by those of us who have consciously broken away from the ethnically-aligned and near-hegemonic positions propounded by, in particular, political actors aligned with the man sworn in as President.We therefore alert Major General Hussein Ali, Commissioner of the Police, of this information in the strongest terms. We ask that he investigate the information received as a matter of urgency. We also formally inform the persons sworn in as Minister of Internal Security, and Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, of these threats. We urge them to provide direction to all arms of Kenya’s intelligence and security services of the limits of our Constitution and laws. Again, it is within our rights as citizens, and our mandate as institutions and organisations, to mobilise and organise as we are. We consider it our patriotic duty to do so — in the interest of peace with electoral truth and justice. Our personal safety and security as human rights defenders must be upheld at all times.Signed:Africa Centre for Open Governance (AfriCOG)AwaazCentre for Law and Research International (CLARION)Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD)Centre for Rights, Education and Awareness for Women (CREAW)(CRADLE)Constitution and Reform Education Consortium (CRECO)East African Law Society (EALS)Haki FocusHema la KatibaIndependent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU)Innovative LawyeringInstitute for Education in Democracy (IED)International Commission of Jurists (ICJ-Kenya)Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC)Kenya Leadership Institute (KLI)Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR)Kituo cha SheriaLaw Society of Kenya (LSK)Media InstituteMuslim Human Rights ForumNational Constitution Executive Council (NCEC)Release Political Prisoners (RPP)Society for International Development (SID)Urgent Action Fund (UAF)-AfricaYouth Agenda

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