Press Statement on Complaints About Human Rights Violations at Loreto Convent Girls’ High School, Limuru
20 July 2011

Background

We have received complaints alleging diverse and serious human rights violations arising from administrative actions taken by the school.

We are informed that on Wednesday May 25, 2011, a Form One student came across a polythene bag containing items and a passport photo within the school compound. She showed it to a school Captain. The Captain showed the bag to two other Captains to obtain their opinion on how to address the matter.

Another student identified the passport photo as belonging to a Form Two student, who the three Captains called. She confirmed the items were hers and said they were given to her by her mother—who is believed to be a person within the Ministry of Education—for protection.

The school Housekeeper was then informed and advised the Captains to report the matter to the Deputy Principal. The Deputy Principal referred the matter to the Principal, Mrs Ruinge, who decided to send home the student who had admitted to being the owner of the items.

The mother of the Form Two student sent home then, allegedly, went to the school and in disregard of laid down administrative and disciplinary procedures, demanded to interrogate the three Captains.

On the evening of Monday May 30, 2011, the mother verbally assaulted the three Captains, demanded that they write apology letters giving their index numbers, admission numbers and signatures and threatened them with being “thrown behind bars and locked up for life.” Under duress, the three Captains wrote the said apology letters, which were initially taken away by the mother.

Two of the Captains were then summoned to appear before two representatives of the Board of Governors for disciplinary measures to be taken against them. The Principal said she would deal with the two “appropriately.”

She suspended them on June 6, 2011. The students reported the matter to the KHRC through their parents, in the course of which other allegations of human rights violations emerged and the KHRC wrote to the Principal seeking re-admission for the students and an investigation into the allegations of human rights violations. She has since refused to readmit one of them until she withdraws the complaint made against the school through the KHRC.

Our Concerns

We are concerned about the manner in which this issue has been handled by the school’s administration, contrary to the best interest of the children as stipulated in Section 4(2) of the Children’s Act and Article 53(2) of the Constitution. The child’s best interests are of paramount importance in every matter concerning the child and must be a primary consideration in all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies.

In our opinion, the school deviated from this principle by inter alia allowing an external party (the mother) to interfere with administrative and disciplinary procedures at the school. The Principal also failed to carry out investigations into the allegations and did not call in the parents of the two Captains before taking any administrative action.

Instead, she allegedly allowed a parent into the school to verbally assault and threaten the two Captains in her presence without alerting their parents and advising them to be present. Furthermore, that parent was initially allegedly allowed to take away the apology letters written by the two Captains instead of having them filed in the students’ official records.

As the Principal, she is expected to act as a custodian of the children placed under her care and must at all times act in the best interest of the children. Her failure to protect the students resulted in exposing them to verbal assault, threats and emotional/mental distress in light of the fact that they are scheduled to sit for their mock and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations this year.

As a result of being wrongfully accused and fearing for her future, one of the students was hospitalised.

We note that:

  1. The school’s administration disowned its earlier decision of suspending the student found with the items and instead apportioned all blame to two of the prefects who reported the matter for advice.
  2. The Principal had shirked her responsibility of protecting the two prefects by allowing a parent to verbally assault and threaten them.
  3. It is unclear whether all members of the Board of Governors have been fully briefed on all the matter, meaning that the Board’s capacity to exercise oversight over the Principal is uncertain.
  4. All the students involved in the matter who had been earlier suspended for reporting the matter have been re-admitted except one, whose conditions for re-admission include:
  • Withdrawing the KHRC’s letter of June 6, 2011;
  • Writing apology letters to: a) the school’s administration for indiscipline and incitement; and b) VN (a minor), the student initially suspended;
  • Promising to be of good behaviour henceforth.

These conditions are unreasonable and could be construed as preventing the student from raising her concerns regarding the Principal’s handling of the matter at hand so as to prevent the resolution of these concerns.

Our demands

  1. We demand that all suspended students be re-admitted unconditionally forthwith.
  2. The Department of Children’s Services was conducting investigations at the school into the matter at hand and other allegations of human rights violations, including defilement of some students by a teacher other arbitrary suspensions on flimsy grounds. We therefore demand that the findings of these investigations be made public.
  3. We call on the Permanent Sectary, Ministry of Education and all relevant authorities—the Board of Governors, Loreto Convent Limuru Girls’ High School, Cardinal John Njue and the Catholic Archdiocese of Nairobi, and the Secretary, Teachers’ Service Commission (TSC)—to institute investigations into these allegations to establish the truth about them and, if true, to take appropriate action(s) with the persons responsible and ensure policies and procedures are in place/reviewed to prevent any possible recurrence.

 

Signed:

For the KHRC,

L.Muthoni Wanyeki
Executive Director
Kenya Human Rights Commission

Introducing Our New Executive Director!
20 July 2011

Greetings from the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC).

It gives me great pleasure to introduce the KHRC’s new Executive Director, Atsango Chesoni.

Ms Chesoni is an lawyer who has worked for the Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA)-Kenya, where she initiated the annual status of women’s human rights report. She has spent many years consulting on civil society in Kenya and within the region—focused on governance, human rights (including women’s human rights) and the law.

She was nominated by the African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET) to represent the women’s movement in the constitutional negotiations known as the Bomas process.

And, most recently, she served as the Vice Chair of the Committee of Experts (CoE) that ushered in our new Constitution.

Ms Chesoni takes over from L. Muthoni Wanyeki, who has led the KHRC since 2007. Ms. Wanyeki led the KHRC at a time of great challenge to Kenya, especially through the post-elections violence and the work of reconstruction and reform thereafter. Her vision, courage, and devotion to human rights—along with those of the great team at the KHRC and the human rights community at large—helped put Kenya back on track.

Her humility and consultative leadership style are a beacon for the human rights community in Kenya and the region. She taught all of us how to practice and think about human rights in the most trying circumstances. Personally, I have been humbled and privileged to work with her. She leaves the KHRC a stronger organisation than she found it.

Ms Wanyeki, whose term with the KHRC officially ends in September 2011, is going abroad to pursue graduate studies and her Doctorate. The Board, management and staff of the KHRC will miss her greatly. But she will remain one of us—no one who has been a member of the KHRC family ever leaves it.

The KHRC’s Board, management and staff are thrilled to have Ms Chesoni with us.

She begins work on July 18, 2011—and will spend four weeks working with Ms Wanyeki, taking over fully on August 1, 2011, with Ms Wanyeki still being on call for a further two weeks. We all aim for the transition to be as seamless as possible.

We wish her all the best as she starts her journey with us—and invite you to do the same. She can be reached at: [email protected]. She will also, no doubt, be contacting some of your directly shortly.

We look forward to continued partnership with all our partners, friends associates and all our publics under her leadership.

Sincerely,

Professor Makau Mutua,

Chair of the Board of Directors

International Day in Support of Victims of Torture
28 June 2011

In Nairobi, civil society organizations (CSOs) led by the Independent Medico Legal Unit (IMLU), the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), and Release Political Prisoners (RPP) came together to commemorate the day. Others included the International Commission of Jurists-Kenya Chapter and state human rights body, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.

According to the press statement read by the CSOs on Sunday, as the world marks the 13th anniversary of IDSVT, the survivors of torture and victims’ families have nothing to celebrate. The statement further says that as prescribed by the resolution, this day is marked by ceremony and activities across the world with the aim of supporting victims of tortu re; fighting forces of impunity that tolerate and perpetuate torture; safeguarding the gains made in the fight against torture and also make significant policy strides on matters of torture.

Indeed after addressing the media, CSOs gathered at Uhuru Park’s Freedom corner to lead a caravan that visited various ‘monuments of shame’ key among them is the notorious Nyayo House torture chambers. Here candles were lit in solidarity with the torture victims who were detained at Nyayo House during the 1990s. Nyayo House is the Nairobi province headquarters and of the National Security and Intelligence Service (NSIS), formerly known as the Special Branch of the police.   Many of the torture victims during the Moi regime, including Prime Minister Raila Odinga, were detained and tortured there.

Paul Amina, freelance journalist, and one of the Nyayo House torture survivors, addressing the gathering in front Nyayo House told journalists that he was arrested for covering the court case of one of the Mwakenya activists in August 1991. Mwakenya was labelled a “dangerous subversive group” that the Moi regime had outlawed. According to Amina, after being arrested he was taken to Nyayo House where he was detained for two days without food or water while being tortured to confess to being a member of the outlawed Mwakenya. Indeed, according to a KHRC report, Independent Without Freedom: The Legitimization of Repressive Laws and Practices in Kenya, Nairobi;KHRC, 1994p.27, critics of the Moi- KANU ( Kenya African National Union, the then ruling party in the single party system) regime mostly students, academicians and civilians would be arrested, tortured in different places and then tak en to court to answer charges of being members of an outlawed organization Mwakenya.

Amina was later transferred to Kamiti Maximum prison, where inmates serving sentences for capital offenses are held and later on released.

Joe Njoroge, another torture Nyayo House torture survivor narrated how he was detained in 1990 for one month in Nyayo house then moved to Kamiti where he was remanded for one year. He was arrested for sedition, th evidence of which was being in possession of 800 copies of a magazine known as the African Event, which was published in London. The ‘offending’ article was titled ‘Mwakenya Demands: the Demans of Kenya.’ Like others taken to Nyayo House, he was tortured with darkness, nakedness and lack of food and water. He was later to be result when the  Attorney General Amos Wako entered a  nolle prosequi in  the  case and  the  case was withdrawn.

Some of the torture survivors in the caravan expressed anger at what appears to be a government attempt to destroy the torture chambers some of which are now being used for storage purposes. The chambers must remain as they were as a monument of shame so Kenyans never forget the dark era of the Moi-KANU regime.

The CSOs further stated that it was regrettable that as we mark the IDSVT, there were 42 Kenyans waking up in pain in their hospital beds in Nairobi and Mombasa as a result of s tate perpetrated torture. “This year alone over 200 hundred cases of torture have been reported, and over 50 cases of proven extra judicial killings. This sad state of affairs is the reality in which we live and all of us remain potentially victims of torture. These trends have long been the tragedy of our national history. These evil and immoral matters of torture must STOP NOW! These victims of torture in our midst are a sad reminder that the police force/service must make a choice in the service of Kenya. Citizens must no longer suffer in the hands of those who are presumed protectors and enforcers of the law,” the statement further said.

The caravan then snaked its way into the Eastlands side of Nairobi, where most torture victims today either hail from or where their bodies are found dumped, specifically at the Dandora informal settlement dumpsite, after extrajudicial execution. In addition, the statement singled out some police stations as being infamous for extra judicial executions. These include Dandora Police Station, Kinyago Police post, Shauri Moyo among others and are located within Eastlands area where the caravan passed through. A new trend is emerging in the Kibaki era where torture victims are no longer the middle class university students, dissenting legislators, university lecturers and other professionals. Most torture victims today come from low income segments of the society. According to the CSO’s statement, torture in the present times is a consequence and a result of poverty.

In fact the report by the UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston which investigated extrajudicial killings that have been carried out by Kenyan police revealed damning state of affairs in Kenya. The report alleged that police are carrying out executions at will even among suspected criminals who have surrendered. "Killings by the police in Kenya are systematic, widespread and carefully planned. They are committed at will and with utter impunity," stated part of the Philip Alston report.

The civil society has also noted that trends are quickly changing such that even acid is now used after executions in an attempt to destroy evidence. This is the sad reality in Ken ya even to this day. Despite the expanded Bill of Rights in the new Constitution, there has never been a reduction in the level of human rights violations. The cold reality is that cases of extrajudicial killings and disappearances have been rising. “Today we join together to affirm our faith in the strength of our constitution and the letter of our national anthem,” the CSO statement further says.

In Dandora Secondary School, members of the public joined the caravan and were addressed by both the members of the civil society and some of the survivors of torture. Declarations were made to be vigilant that the gains offered in the new Constitution that safeguard the right of every person to be guaranteed, by demanding government accountability.

In conclusion, the CSO statement noted that the Bill of Rights is clear, that among the fundamental rights and freedoms that may not be limited is the right to life, and it is a serious offence to cause death of another person through an unlawful act or omission. Extraj udicial killings have become rampant, perpetrated mainly by units formed to fight organised criminal gangs like the Mungiki. “The police initially said that lack of proper legislation was hindering the fight against outlawed sects. Now that we have strong legislation, due process of the law should be followed. According to Legal Notice No 162, the Prevention of Organised Crimes Act, 2010 came into operation on September 23.”

The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) Statement on the International Criminal Court and the President’s Judicial ‘appointments’
9 February 2011

The Politics

Acting upon the unilateral direction of the President, the Vice-President recently visited several African countries to rally support from the AU for a resolution seeking deferral of the Kenyan situation by the United Nations Security Council (UN SC). To bolster this effort and under the guise of complementarity, the President also unilaterally attempted to nominate persons for the positions of Chief Justice, Attorney General, Director of Public Prosecutions and Controller of Budget—crucial for transformation of the justice system in Kenya. The political context, the manner of execution and timing of these events indicate nothing but an attempt to defeat justice and entrench impunity. This is evident from the following facts:

  1. The Vice President is reportedly in an ethnically based, political alliance, the Kalenjin, Kikuyu and Kamba (KKK) Alliance, with two of the ICC suspects (Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto). All three have expressed their intentions to stand for the Presidency in the 2012 General Elections. Thwarting the ICC process would enable them to exercise their individual and collective presidential ambitions.
  2. The Party of National Unity (PNU) enlisted the services of supposed civil society organisations (CSOs), including the hitherto unknown Kenya Council for Foreign Relations, allegedly run by the PNU Spokesperson, to make its case for deferral during the AU Summit.
  3. The names of the President’s Judicial nominees are hardly inspiring of confidence in the transformation of the justice system—and, in fact, could be read as trying to ensure that no transformation occurs:
  4. The suitability of Justice Alnashir Visram as Chief Justice is questionable, in the light of his unprecedented judgment on libel in favour of Nicholas Biwott in respect of the production and sale of a book on the murder of Robert Ouko that restricted freedom of expression. His likely appreciation of the Bill of Rights and his capacity to espouse the spirit and letter of the Constitution is doubtful as a result.
  5. The impartiality of Kioko Kilukumi as the Director of Public Prosecutions is questionable, given that he was, until Monday, the defence lawyer for one of the ICC suspects in a fraud case (William Ruto).
  6. The appropriateness of William Kirwa as Controller of Budget is in doubt, given that he is under investigation by the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture in relation to his tenure at the helm of the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC).

The Legal Issues

On the attempt to defer the Kenyan situation:

  1. Deferral: Article 16 of the Rome Statute allows for deferral of cases before the ICC by the UN SC, where peace and security is threatened. The peace and security of Kenya is not threatened by continued cooperation with the ICC, as per national and international law—unless those who are warning of the same intend to create such a threat.
  2. Complementarity: Article 19 of the Rome Statute stipulates that the ICC would itself defer a case where the State Party concerned is able, willing and has taken credible and tangible steps towards trying cases within its jurisdiction. We note that Parliament has previously blocked two attempts to set up a Special Tribunal to try suspects, in lieu of the ICC. Moreover, the national courts have only prosecuted six cases, returning but a single conviction in respect of the violence of 2007/8. Furthermore, the said cases did not enjoin suspects with the highest responsibility.
  3. Sovereignty: Article 1 of the new Constitution vests sovereign power in the citizenry and decrees that any subsequent guardian of Sovereign power must exercise such power in accordance with the letter and spirit of the Constitution. The Vice President’s mission to convince African States to support the deferral of Kenya’s case at the ICC, without popular approval, is a subversion of the sovereignty of the Kenyan people. Latest opinion polls show that 90 per cent of the Kenyan people support the ICC process.
  4. Abuse of Office and Lack of Accountability: The unilateral decision and subsequent mission by a faction of the Grand Coalition Government to incite African States and the AU into frustrating Kenya’s case at the ICC, without Cabinet deliberation and approval and with unapproved expenditure of taxpayers’ money is a subversion of the sovereignty of the Kenyan people, an unconstitutionality, an illegality and an abuse of office.

 

On the supposed judicial ‘appointments’:

The Constitution at Articles 1, 3, 10, 73, 156, 157, 160, 166 and 228 and Sections 24 and 29 of the 6th Schedule, read together with Chapter 6 on Leadership and Integrity, govern the appointment of holders to the said constitutional offices.

  1. National Values and Principles of Governance: national values, promoting national unity and the rule of law and requiring inclusiveness and public participation in governance, have been breached.
  2. Leadership and Integrity: the unilateral nominations, devoid of public and stakeholder input, have failed to assure Kenyans of objectivity, impartiality and ethical leadership.
  3. Equal Representation: the lack of representation of women in all four nominations has flouted the principle of equality and equity in representation.
  4. Independence of Constitutional Offices: the Constitution asserts the independence of constitutional offices and, accordingly, stipulates the appointment procedures thereof. All current Judges are to be vetted to remain in office. Justice Visram’s nomination as Chief Justice, prior to such vetting, is unconstitutional, as is his nomination without having been advanced by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC). The Vice President in his advertiser’s announcement in today’s newspapers alludes to some irregular procedure that was agreed on by the two principals on 6th January 2011 at Harambee House. In the said announcement the Vice President indicates that a technical team had been selected to identify suitable candidates. This announcement further confirms that the appointments were irregular and that the technical team was set up to subvert the functions of the Judicial Service Commission.
  5. Consultation: the Constitution, read together with the National Accord and Reconciliation Act, requires consultation on nominations between the President and the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister’s disavowal of the four nominations means both the Constitution and the National Accord and Reconciliation Act have been breached. 

Demands

  1. We demand that the President, the Cabinet and Parliament respect and enforce the Government’s national and international legal obligations in accordance with Article 2 of the Constitution.
  2. We demand that the Government support the establishment of a judicial system premised on competence, integrity and equality and equity in representation, in a manner that respects the due process and rule of law.
  3. We demand that the PNU, the KKK Alliance—including erstwhile members of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM)—and other proponents of the deferral of the Kenyan case to desist from threatening the public to undermine the ICC process and from exciting ethnic hatred and tensions solely aimed at defeating the ICC process.
  4. We demand that the Government and all politicians cease and desist from threatening and intimidating national institutions and non-state actors which have risen to their calling of assisting in the quest for justice.
  5. We demand to know the names of the private individuals and so-called CSOs who were supported with taxpayers’ monies for politically partisan posturing to attend the AU Summit as well as who authorised their travel and covered their expenses and for those who gave such authorisation to personally refund the Government.
  6. Finally, we demand that the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs uphold constitutionalism and the rule of law by rejecting the said list of unconstitutionally nominated officers.

L. Muthoni Wanyeki
Executive Director For The Board of Directors

Kenyans for Peace With Truth and Justice (KPTJ) Network ICC Group Asks the Government to Cooperate With the ICC
4 February 2011

The on-going attempts to derail the International Criminal Court ( ICC) process on the Kenyan case has been greeted with a lot of hue and cry from not only the Orange Democratic Movement ( ODM) section of the government but also from the civil society and a wide cross-section of the Kenyan public.

The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) and the Kituo Cha Sheria who form the Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice ( KPTJ) ICC Technical Group led the peaceful protest march from the Freedom Corner, Uhuru Park, Nairobi, to Parliament on 03 February 2011.  They marched to Parliament where they handed a petition against withdrawal from or deferral of Kenya’s case from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The aim of the procession was to march to Parliament buildings and deliver the petition to Parliament in time before the expected ruling by house Speaker, Hon. Kenneth Marende. The petition was read and delivered to Hon. Aluoch Olago, Kisumu Town West MP. Mr. Olago also acknowledged having received a copy of the petition on two days earlier in accordance with the rules of Parliament and promised to put it on the Order Paper for the day’s business. It is hoped and expected that the petition will be tabled in Parliament appropriately. The petition aims to convey to the Parliament and the country’s top leadership the mood of the public on the matter of deferral of the ICC process and the recent presidential judicial nominee. It is meant to draw their attention to the Rome statutes and the import of the Rule of Law.

The march was nearly marred by a group of youth calling itself Kenya Youth for Reconciliation..., suspected to have been hired to disrupt the march and also discredit the civil society’s support for the ICC process. The group, claiming to champion a local tribunal, threatened to disrupt the peaceful march by joining in and stirring up chaos. However the Officer Commanding Station (OSC) Central Police Station stopped them since they had not notified the police on their intent. Thus, the protest march went on successfully.

In attendance were other civil society groups such as Bunge la Mwananchi and Warembo Na Katiba lobby group, who are also members of the KPTJ.

Support for Arrest Warrant Against President Omar El Bashir
4 December 2010

PRESS STATEMENT

SUPPORT FOR ARREST WARRANT AGAINST PRESIDENT OMAR EL BASHIR

2 December 2011

Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice, a coalition of citizens and organisations working in human rights, governance and legal areas, have come together to congratulate the judiciary for their progressive decision operationalizing the arrest warrant against the President of Sudan Omar el Bashir in Kenya.

We recall; the International Criminal Court issued two warrants of arrest against President Bashir in 2009 and 2010. In line with its international obligation as a state party to the Rome Statute, it was incumbent upon the Kenyan government to declare their intention to arrest President Bashir for alleged crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity in the Darfur region of Sudan when and if he entered Kenya. This obligation stands for as long as Kenya is a signatory to the Rome Statute.

It was therefore a grave violation of state obligation and a show of disrespect for international treaties for the Kenyan government to invite and host President Bashir in Kenya on 27 August 2010, on a day when Kenyans were celebrating the promulgation of our new Constitution – a manifestation of the rule of law and of justice for all Kenyans.

The Rome Statute has been domesticated into Kenyan law. It must be noted that treaties are the primary means by which a state acquires obligations in international law. Treaties are voluntary agreements that a state enters into of its own free will. It is assumed that this is done after expert advice by its lawyers and consultations with national constituencies. Once signed and ratified, they are sources of binding obligations. The fundamental principle of international law is that “agreements shall be kept.” Other states have a legitimate expectation that their co-signatories are not ratifying treaties merely to deceive or present themselves in a positive light. It is on this basis that the high court of Kenya is within its rights and indeed its duties in keeping with the International Crimes Act of 2010 to operationalize warrants of arrest on persons who are wanted by the ICC to answer charges of crimes against humanity.

We laud ICJ-Kenya for championing the cause for the Public, by initiating the application for the warrants of arrest. We also commend Chief Justice Mutunga’s defense of the independence of the judiciary and of individual judges in keeping with the spirit of our new constitution.

In the same breath, we urge fellow African Governments and IGAD in particular to respect the fact that Kenya is on course towards reforming the judiciary. Through this decision Kenya has now joined a list of countries that fight for international justice such as South Africa, which applied for President Bashir’s arrest warrant long before Uganda which issued public statements on his arrest. This had the effect of dissuading President Bashir from going to these countries. We stress the need for Kenya and Africa to recognize that real peace and security in the region will be sustainable only in an environment of justice and accountability; not of fear and impunity.

As members of the civil society, we are wary that the conduct of the Government in response to this decision may be an indication of the Government’s unwillingness to co-operate with the ICC with respect to the two Kenyan cases. We remind the Government of its obligation and commitment to co-operate with the ICC in keeping with the strong wishes of the Kenyan public.

We want to make it clear that what is at stake here is not merely a legal point. We are talking about the faithful implementation of the Constitution. A government that rides roughshod over its international obligations, which it has freely assumed, is a government that will not listen to its own people. A government that has a casual and irresponsible approach to law at the international level, will have a casual and irresponsible approach to law at the national level.

We therefore urge the Government to respect the judicial decision and desist from attacking the judiciary for carrying out its functions. If dissatisfied by that decision, it should exercise its right of appeal.

We finally wish to commend the people of Kenya for promulgating a Constitution that allows persons, both institutions and individuals, to fight against human rights violations and ensure that Kenya is not a safe haven for alleged perpetrators of human rights violations.

End

Complementarity and the International Criminal Court: Demystifying the ICC Process
19 November 2010

In her welcome remarks, Ms. Muthoni Wanyeki, the Executive Director of the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), focused on demystifying the confusion and misunderstanding that exists around the International Criminal court ICC (ICC) process.  “What are we meant to do for the majority of victims whose cases will not be at the ICC?” she asked.

The conference sought to address the Kenyan situation and analyse critically the ICC’s mandate in Kenya.  It also sought to reflect on the general outcome of the PEV and look into the achievements of the Commission of Inquiry on the Post Election Violence (CIPEV) and the human rights fraternity in assisting the ICC in its investigations. The ICC was deemed to be governed by four key principles namely: impartiality; admissibility of evidence; stringent checks and balances and individual criminal responsibility.

Among the issues discussed were:

The process and prospects of the ICC in Kenya; International, regional and municipal instruments of international criminal justice and reflections on the ICC situation in Kenya; the ICC versus the African Union (AU) interplay in Kenya situation; International criminal trials (e.g. ICTR experience) and the future of international criminal justice system by looking at the ICC process in Kenya; and the way forward on justice and politics in Kenya after the post-election violence.

Present at the conference were two ICC officials from the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) who addressed the key strategic actions that they will take in Kenya. First would be the prosecution of the six individuals with the greatest criminal responsibilities, secondly is the formation of a special tribunal and thirdly the implementation of the truth and reconciliation mechanisms. They however noted ICC’s achievements so far as far dialogue with the government was concerned and urged government officials to strengthen their witness protection systems. They also urged the media to continue serving as a watchdog and lastly help voice the unheard.

On the issue of  ICC versus the AU interplay in the Kenyan situation it was noted that some African leaders are poised to be exploiting gaps in criminal accountability situations to undercut the pursuit for justice by presenting the ICC as a new form of imperialism that should not be supported.

In deed the latest developments on the ICC in Kenya are now seen as real setbacks for the ICC and for ensuring justice for victims of atrocities of the PEV. The first was the concerted political drive to discredit the ICC prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo; then the visit by President Omar al- Bashir of Sudan who has an arrest warrant on him and the Kenya government failed to honor the warrant; then the AU summit decision to support Kenya deferral of its case before the ICC second was the and Kenya and finally is the revival of discussions of vesting an African Court with jurisdiction over international crimes.

During the question and answer session, the two ICC officials clarified on the cases to prosecute. They said that investigations are still going on since April and the cases for prosecution will be known once the investigations are complete. However, the OTP started by investigating all allegations, they narrowed down to more serious incidences and finally the OTP has settled on two cases which are the gravest. However they would not divulge the details at the time but it i now public what these cases were.

The ICC officials also confirmed that they will not use the witnesses who were “supposedly coached” to provide incriminating evidence against certain individuals. In fact, they added that contrary to the agenda of the powerful forces that are threatening to derail its process a survey on ICC has so far shown tremendous support from the people of Kenya. In addition, the ICC process cannot be influenced since it relies on hard evidence that the ICC collected by its own mechanisms and not from reports from various bodies as has been alleged.
KHRC Initiates Protection of Children’s Rights in Taita Taveta
9 November 2010

To mitigate the situation, the KHRC held a three day teachers training workshop in Taveta on children’s rights in November 2010. During the workshop the teachers were trained on children rights one of them being the right to education as provided for in the children’s act and the convention on the rights of the child among other provisions.

Child abuse issues (both physical and psychological) were discussed and the participants came up with ways for the teachers to identify this abuse. The continual belief in demon-possession and the type of violent exorcism carried out on the children without addressing the root cause of the phenomenon that leaves children exhausted was identified as a type of child abuse.

In the process the extent of the damage done was unearthed by the journalists that accompanied the KHRC and the Taita Taveta HURINET team.
One of the interventions used to foster child protection in the area is the formation of the Queens of Change Clubs in schools. Through the Queens of Change Clubs, (proactive societies in 5 schools in Taveta: Timbila; Rekeke; Mahoo; Njoro and Kimala) the Taita Taveta HURINET has made headway in protecting children from Child Abuse, sexual abuse and child neglect.

The Queens of Change Clubs were set up in 2008 as recognition that child abuse was rampant in Taveta. The KHRC-community partnerships aimed at addressing the rampant problem of child abuse in Taveta District. It was thought, at the time, that for a more wholesome regime of child protection, children in schools would need to be enlisted as part of the campaign to stop child abuse.

The network mentors the Queens of Change Clubs in order to generate the spirit if child protection in schools. In liaison with KHRC other partners, the network has provided speaking boxes, counseling services and legal education on child protection. In turn, the Queens of Change Clubs, previously under a pilot phase, have registered remarkable gains in the realms of Child Protection. The children write notes and put them in the speaking boxes which are opened by the Taveta HURINET after every two months. The boxes have served as a source of vital information and also helped in identifying cases of defilement in schools and in one instance they helped identify a teacher who was defiling children and the teacher even got prosecuted in court. The boxes operate like a secret ballot boxes where the children write their views which are anonymous to provide protection to the children and to make them feel safe to express themselves and speak on what is going on with them.

PIC TAITA TAVETA 9: The opening up of a Queens of Change speaking box in Madarsani primary school, Taita Taveta, a measure to report violation of children’s rights. In one of the schools children narrated to the team of KHRC staff, Taveta Hurinet and journalists alleged incidences of children being possessed by demons. The school alleged that a pastor had prayed for the children and thereafter strange occurrences started taking place. The children would all fall in a trance and see images of a woman who would force them to work in her farm for many hours. Later the woman would carry them to the ocean and force them to eat human flesh.

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