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: Press Releases

PRWG-K WELCOMES THE APPOINTMENT OF INCOMING INSPECTOR GENERAL OF THE NATIONAL POLICE SERVICE.

5TH APRIL 2019

  1. We, the undersigned members of The Police Reforms Working Group-Kenya (PRWG-K) congratulate Mr. Hillary Mutyambai on his appointment as the 3rd Inspector General of the National Police Service.
  2. In particular, the PRWG-K wishes the incoming Inspector General of Police (I.G.P.) success as he takes on the reigns of leadership of the National Police Service (N.P.S.) – which is a vital cog in national security and ensuring that all Kenyans enjoy their human rights to the fullest extent.
  3. We extend a hand of partnership to the incoming IGP as he embarks on his duty to transform the N.P.S. into an accountable, professional and human rights compliant institution – in line with our Constitutional aspirations, National legislation and a comprehensive Police Reforms Agenda.
  4. In the spirit of mutual respect, public participation and community policing – we commit to work and cooperate with the incoming I.G.P. when called upon; and, to enter constructive dialogue and exchange for the betterment of all Kenyans security and wellbeing.
  5. It is in this spirit that we will submit to the incoming I.G.P. a report titled “The First One Hundred Days: Civil Society Expectations of the Third Inspector General of the National Police Service”, which focuses on six issues of public interest; namely: 1. Crime Prevention and Response, 2. Human Rights Compliance, 3. Integrity and Police Corruption, 4. Independence of the Office of the Inspector General, 5. Management of Police Welfare, and 6. Community Policing and Public Partnerships.
    The Police Reforms Working Group offers this report to assist the incoming I.G.P. and other duty bearers to further enhance the reforms needed to ensure that Police officers discharge their duties within the confines of the law and with utmost respect for the rule of law, democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms.
    We extend our hand to the incoming I,G.P., Mr. Hillary Mutyambai, to address the six public interest issues contained in this report. We also extend our hand to the relevant duty bearers such as the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government, The Attorney General, Kenya Law Reforms Commission and the National Police Service Commission.
  6. We reiterate our congratulatory message, well wishes and commitment to cooperation to the incoming I.G.P. Mr. Hillary Mutyambai and look forward to a good and meaningful working relationship with his office.
    Yours Faithfully,
    For: Police Reforms Working Group – Kenya

Signed:
• National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (NCHRD – Kenya)
• International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ-K)
• International Commission of Jurists –Kenya (ICJ-K)
• Legal Resources Foundation (LRF)
• International Justice Mission (IJM)
• Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU)
• Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR)
• Rights Promotion and Protection Centre (RPP)
• Federation of Women Lawyers in Kenya (FIDA-K)
• Coalition on Violence against Women (COVAW)
• Kenya Human Rights Comission (KHRC)
• Kenyans For Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ)
• Usalama Reforms
• Amnesty International Kenya
• Transparency International Kenya
• KATIBA Institute
• Peace Brigades International (PBI)
• Usalama Reforms Forum
• The Institute for Social Accountability (TISA)

Winners of the 2018 Human Rights Defenders of the Year Award 2018 Announced

 

PRESS RELEASE

WINNERS OF THE 2018 HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS AWARDS ANNOUNCED

30 November 2018 – Nairobi, Kenya.

The National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders – Kenya (NCHRD-K) and the Working Group on Human Rights Defenders announced today the winners of the 2018 Human Rights Defenders awards during a ceremony held in Nairobi at the Residence of the Belgian Ambassador.

The 2018 winners are:

  • Human Rights Defender of the Year: Anastacia Nambo and Is’haq Abubakar
  • Upcoming Human Rights Defender of the Year: Christine Kandie
  • Munir Mazrui Lifetime achievement: Okiya Omtatah

For the third consecutive year, and chosen by an independent selection panel of eminent Kenyans, chaired by Dr Willy Mutunga, the three different awards were handed out to the winners for their outstanding work in the field of human rights. Some of the selection criteria included civil courage, leadership, innovation, demonstrable impact of the Human Rights Defender’s work on the community, and creativity.

“In every community, there are individuals who stand out. They defend human rights, and they do so at times under very extraordinary circumstances,” says Kamau Ngugi, Executive Director of the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders. “The good bit is that their work is appreciated by the society but they are rarely honoured with state commendations. The awards ceremony is a special occasion to honour those courageous individuals who do excellent work within our communities.”

The objective of the Awards ceremony is to honor the extraordinary work of Human Rights Defenders in the protection of human rights while they face many challenges in their capacity of agents of social change and transformation. An important aim of the awards is to improve the safety and protection of Human Rights Defenders as they benefit from the visibility and international recognition.

“As a country, Belgium strongly believes that respect for human rights is one of the cornerstones of a democratic society, as well as of development,” says H.E. Nicolas Nihon, Ambassador of Belgium to Kenya. “Human rights and the protection of Human Rights Defenders are a very important part of our foreign policy and we believe that solidarity in this domain is essential.”

The Awards ceremony is an initiative of the Human Rights Defenders Working Group, currently presided by the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders of Kenya and co- chaired by Belgium. The Working Group brings together civil society organizations, activists and development partners to pursue the universal goal of protecting human rights and the defenders of these rights.

For more information, or interview requests, please contact:

 

Notes to the Editors:

Further details on the 2018 Winners:

Human Rights Defender of the Year: Anastacia Nambo and Is’haq Abubakar

Anastacia Nambo

Anastasia is a mother, a preacher by profession and an avid advocate of environmental rights. She started her human rights defence work in 2009 when a metal refinery was established in the Uhuru Owino slums without community consent or consultation. The adverse effects of the metal refinery led to active advocacy and lobbying by Anastasia and community members. Their struggle bore fruit in 2014 when the refinery was closed. Anastasia and the community have undergone various challenges including demolition of their homes, she has faced verbal attacks, threats through texts and attempts to break into her home. To deal with these challenges she sought refuge in Uganda for some time. She also realized that she had to have resilience to overcome some of the challenges. However, these challenges do not deter her from her quest for justice. The award will encourage members of her community that despite the challenges and struggles involved in advocating for what is right, there is hope of celebrating their successes with the world.

Is’haq Abubakar

Is’haq was born and educated in Lamu County where he is a public relations manager working with the indigenous community. He is also a human rights defender focusing on environmental rights issues. Is’haq was initially involved with the Wanaharakati Okoa Lamu Community Based Organisation (CBO), which his father founded together with Imams in Lamu. He however then went on and co-founded Save Lamu, an umbrella of CBOs established in Lamu in the onset of the LAPSSET project. Save Lamu sensitizes the community on the environmental impact of the LAPSSET project and represents the interest of the community by seeking legal redress through an environmental petition filed on human rights violations associated with the LAPSSET project. Is’haq is also the founder of Lamu Coastal Indigenous Peoples Right for Development. His father’s work and legacy is his greatest inspiration and keeps him going despite the challenges he faces in his human rights work. He has experienced threats from anonymous people and police harassment, which he has overcome through strategic partnerships with mainstream organizations in the country such as NCHRD – K, MUHURI and KNCHR. Is’haq believes that the award will legitimize his work, encourage and enhance efforts of HRDs in Lamu to work openly and in partnership with duty bearers in defending indigenous peoples’ rights.

Upcoming Human Rights Defender of the Year – Christine Kandie

Christine is a mother, an accountant and a woman leader in her Endorois community. Over time, Christine has grown to be a strong human rights defender advocating for the rights of the Endorois community both at a local, national, regional and international level. She has placed special focus on Endorois women land rights through her work with the Endorois Welfare Council (EWC) as a Program Officer – Women’s Land Rights. As a human rights defender, she advocates against FGM in the community and for the empowerment of the Endorois women and girls. She has also trained women in her community on their rights which has boosted their participation and confidence in the community. One of her

 

successes was when she represented her community and strongly articulated issues affecting her community at the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR) session in 2011. She was able to share the progress of the case that the community won in 2010 at the same session in Banjul, The Gambia. Christine has walked the fine line between being a woman from a conservative community and leading from the front as part of the community negotiating team, despite being a woman with a disability. The award will boost her spirits and will provide her a platform to advance the Endorois community case, as well as highlight the plight of indigenous women land rights.

Munir Mazrui Lifetime achievement: Okiya Omtatah

Okiya Omtatah Okoiti is a member of the Catholic Church who believes in the social doctrine of the Good Samaritan, and the call to be the salt of the earth as a witness of Jesus Christ, which influences his work. He is also a published author and an accomplished playwright who has published five plays in Kenya and in the USA. As a HRD, he mostly engages in civic action in defence of human rights for he believes a human being is created in God’s image and likeness and, therefore, must be respected in all circumstances. He advocates for rights through litigation as the outcome goes on record and becomes part of the law. He has prosecuted many cases on various issues to defend the Constitution and uphold the rule of law, because he believes that if the law is respected, violations of human rights will not occur. Okiya has been active in human rights for decades. One of his key earliest successes being his campaign in 1994 against the attempt by powerful individuals in Government to illegally acquire the land occupied by the National Theatre in Nairobi so that they could construct a silo for parking cars on it. He also notes that an important achievement for him as a creative writer was to defend the freedom of creative expression in the petition he successfully filed against the Government’s decision to ban a stage play titled Shackles of Doom, which was a winning script performed during the year 2013 National Drama Festivals by Butere Girls High School. As a result of his success, the girls were able to perform their play at the National Finals in Mombasa, with the Court ordering the Government to foot their bill. What is outstanding about Okiya is that he is driven by conviction in the worth of his work, which has served him well. He believes that winning the award will profile his work and offer him a veil of protection.

 

PRESS RELEASE CALLING ON INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY OF OFFICERS INVOLVED IN EXTRA-JUDICIAL EXECUTIONS

7TH NOVEMBER 2018

TO ALL NEWS EDITORS PRESS RELEASE

CALL FOR INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY OF OFFICERS FOUND CULPABLE OF VIOLATING THE SIXTH SCHEDULE OF THE NPS ACT 2011

  1. We the Police Reforms Working Group-Kenya (PRWG-K), the Social Justice Centre Working Group (SJCWG) and human rights defenders pass our deepest condolences to police officers and civilians who have been victims of acts of crime in the recent past, and wish the surviving ones quick recovery.
  2. We are well aware that Kenyans are increasingly experiencing violent crime. We therefore cannot under any circumstances underestimate the trauma that our society is living through, due to the increase in cases of violent crime, and the apparent inability of the National Police Service to reduce these incidences and, or successfully prosecute these cases.
  3. We stand with Kenyans, especially victims of violent crime who are extremely frustrated by the increased number of suspects who continue to roam freely intimidating and threatening victims and witnesses, eliminating witnesses, and in some cases committing new crimes, mainly due to botched investigations and police corruption.
  4. However the Police Reforms Working Group- Kenya (PRWG-K) wishes to express grave concern over increasing incidences of deaths from police use of lethal force in the country. Over the past one month, incidences of torture and extrajudicial executions implicating police officers are on an all- time high. This is especially regrettable at a time when the country is embracing the new police reforms initiatives to transform our police force to a civilian-centered police service.
  1. In particular, the PRWG-K strongly condemns the alleged summary executions of 24 young men in Mathare, Majengo, Kayole and Dandora in the last 3 weeks, by officers believed to be attached to the Huruma and Dandora Police Stations.
  2. A case in point is the shooting of a twenty year old man who was walking home in Mathare North Area, after arriving from his place of work on Friday, October 26th, 2018. Incidentally, there had been a robbery at a supermarket in the area (Family Choice). In the process of police pursuing the “suspected thugs”, he was shot in the thigh. A Good Samaritan rushed him to Mathare North Health Centre. He then called his wife but her phone was off forcing him to call a neighbor. The neighbor then informed the deceased’s wife and they rushed him to the health Centre where they found him. They were advised to take him to Mama Lucy Hospital prompting the neighbor to make a call to arrange for transport. Immediately after the call, a group of over 10 officers allegedly arrived brandishing guns and asking where the ‘thug’ was and that he had their “property”. They picked him from where he was lying and bundled him into the boot of a white probox car. They then drove off with the deceased not informing the wife and neighbor where they were heading. The next day, the deceased’s employer led a search party from one police station to the other, health facilities and morgues. It was then at City Mortuary that they found his corpse with seven gunshot wounds.
  3. The actions of the police officer on the night of 28th and 29th October 2018 point to a clear contravention of Article 26, every person has the right to life. A person shall not be deprived of life intentionally, except to the extent authorized by the Constitution or other written law. Further, the National Police Service Act 2011 Schedule 6 (B) provides that ‘Firearms may only be used when less extreme measures are inadequate, and for the following purposes: a) saving or protecting the life of the officer or other persons; and b) self-defense or in defense of other person against imminent threat of life or serious injury.

We are greatly dismayed by the impunity displayed by the police officer in this incident and many more, and call for the following action:

1. The Independent Policing Oversight Authority and the Internal Affairs Unit (IAU) expedite investigations into the apparent summary execution of the 20 young men and forward the report to the director of public prosecution’s office for prosecution

of the officers found culpable.

  1. We appeal to all eye witnesses and anybody else with evidence on this killing to come forward and present their information to the IPOA;
  2. The National Police Service Commission should institute disciplinary actions against the police officer;
  3. The need to speedily implement in full the National Coroners Service Act 2017 to provide for independent forensic investigations of questionable deaths;
  4. We call for the formation of a judicial inquiry into cases of extrajudicial killings in the country;
  5. We urge the government to allow the request by the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions to visit the country to assess the situation of extra judicial killings and make appropriate recommendations;
  6. We commend all police officers who have embraced the ongoing reforms and urge those officers with information on these killings to liaise with IPOA to ensure thatthat we rid the force of those not willing to change;
  7. Lastly, we continue to firmly believe that failure to hold the officers individually responsible and accountable will only continue to undermine the ongoing reforms under the central command of the Inspector General, and entrench a culture of impunity within the National Police Service.

Finally we urge the IG, IPOA, the IAU and the NPSC to enhance mechanisms of bringing to end indiscriminate executions of people without due process of the law. It is our considered view that the police cannot be investigators, prosecutors, judges and executioners at the same time.

Signed:

National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders-Kenya (NCHRD-K)

Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC)

International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ-K)

International Commission of Jurists –Kenya (ICJ-K)

Legal Resources Foundation (LRF)
International Justice Mission (IJM)
Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU)

Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR)
Rights Promotion and Protection Centre (RPP)
Federation of Women Lawyers in Kenya (FIDA-K)
Coalition on Violence against Women (COVAW)
Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ)

Usalama Reforms
Amnesty International – Kenya
Transparency International Kenya
Katiba Institute (KI)
Social Justice Centre Working Group (SJCWG)

 

Statement on the Operating Environment of Human Rights Defenders in Kenya- ACHPR 63 Ordinary session

63rd Ordinary Session of the Africa Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

Banjul, Gambia

 

Public Session; Human Rights Situation in Africa

25th October 2018

Statement by NATIONAL COALITION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS-KENYA (NCHRD-K)

Madame Chairperson, distinguished Commissioners, State Delegates, representatives of NHRIs and NGOs.

 

On behalf of the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders -Kenya (NCHRD-K), I would like to thank the Commission for this opportunity to raise some of the key human rights concerns from Kenya.

We are particularly concerned that the legitimate role of protection and promotion of human rights carried on by human rights defenders and Civil Society Organizations is criminalized and target for reprisal by both state and non-state actors. Below are a few incidences of violation of human rights fundamental freedoms of human rights defenders in Kenya:

Freedom of Association: Kenyan police have continued to harass and threaten HRDs that  demand justice for victims and advocate for accountability for serious injuries, death and destruction of property by security agents following unrest that took  place post 2017 general elections. Most of the incidents reported by HRDs include threats of arrest, warnings against posting information about police brutality, home and office raids, and confiscation of laptops and other items. The National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders documented up to 15 cases where activists suffered these intimidation tactics.[1]The protection of HRDs should be adhered to as prescribed by law.

Freedom of Expression: On 29 May 2018, The High Court in Nairobi temporarily suspended 26 sections of the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Bill, which was signed into law by the President on 16 May 2018, after an appeal by the Bloggers Association of Kenya, among others.[2] While the objective of the law was to address issues including cybercrime, cyber bullying, phishing, and fake news, the law contains provisions which threaten the freedom of expression, right to privacy, the right to a fair trial. On 3 July, the suspension of the 26 provisions was extended when the Court will hear an application by the Attorney General to have the suspension lifted on the basis that it was erroneously issued.

On 31 July, during a parliamentary session, two journalists with the privately-owned People Daily newspaper were threatened with being barred from covering future parliamentary proceedings and summoned to a legislative committee. The summons was allegedly in connection to stories published on 30-31 July accusing MPs of taking and soliciting bribes from organizations and individuals they were meant to be investigating.[3] Such threats and intimidation tactics affect on the freedom of journalists to carry out their legitimate work.

Freedom of Information: In October 2018, the Kenya government introduced a 15% excise duty tax on internet services through a new Finance bill, effected on 15th October. The Bill restricts Kenyans’ access to internet services which plays a major role in promoting access to information.

Freedom of Peaceful Assembly: Police arrested two environmental activists on 25 May 2018 during a protest against plans to set up a coal-fired power plant at Kwasasi, Lamu County. The group had sought permission to peacefully assemble and demonstrate but their request was rejected by police who deemed the protest “unlawful.”[4]

The fact that the individuals were arrested while peacefully protesting raises concerns regarding the Kenyan government’s respect for the constitution, Article 11 of the African Charter of Human and Peoples Rights and international law standards that safeguards the right to peacefully assemble.

In light of these updates and observations, we urge the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to:

  • Call on the Kenyan Government to provide a conducive legal environment that will ensure that Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) carry out their work without fear of reprisal.
  • Call on the Kenyan government to cease the harassment of journalists who work towards providing information including on the status of human rights in Kenya
  • Call on the government to remove exercise duty tax being charged on internet tariffs to ensure that Kenyans from all walks of life can access the Internet.
  • Urge Kenya to Develop a policy/law for the protection of Human rights Defenders
  • Urge Kenya to revise sections of the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Bill that seeks to limit freedom of expression and privacy.

I thank You

 

[1] https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/06/04/kenya-police-threaten-activists-reporting-abuse

[2] http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/news/ea/Court-suspends-portions-of-Kenya-cybercrime-law/4552908-4586250-1kaa55/index.html

[3] https://cpj.org/2018/08/kenyan-parliamentarians-harass-journalists-followi.php

[4] https://www.nation.co.ke/counties/lamu/Police-arrest-2-anti-Lamu-coal-plant-protester/3444912-4579706-ymfm8l/index.html

Nobel Peace Prize for Human Rights Defenders

Over 200 organisations from all over the world have signed on to this open letter endorsing the Nobel Peace Prize for the global community of Human Rights Defenders. The release of the open letter is accompanied by a public petition: Human Rights Defenders for the Nobel Peace Prize, which can be signed here.

Open Civil Society Letter to support the Nobel Peace Prize for Human Rights Defenders 4

Uganda: Press Statement condemning the continuous attacks towards Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) within the media fraternity.

Press Statement By NCHRD-U

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