Grave human rights violations due to widespread insecurity
The human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people living in Kenya continue to be violated unabatedly. In the past several months Kenya has witnessed what has been called terror attacks in places of business and worship for the very ordinary citizens from the nerve centre of Kenya, Nairobi to our coastal city Mombasa with the most recent attack of yesterday evening in Mpeketoni, Lamu, where 48 people including security personnel were reportedly killed. The violence and insecurity is wide-ranging from the murders in Kitengela that were meticulously planned and executed even before Bungoma could cool off, all the way to the counties of Wajir, Mandera and Garissa where ethnic and clan conflict is rife as well as intensified cattle rustling in Samburu, Baringo, Turkana. These acts of terror target very innocent children; the youthful population, men and women alike.
Ineffective state security response
The KHRC decries the fact that the deteriorating security situation is made worse by the apparent failure of security governance at national and county levels manifested in the collective irresponsible acts of commission and omission. It is intolerable that corruption, unemployment, poverty, ethnic and religious intolerance and inequality in Kenya remain the dominant causes of insecurity as well as factors fuelling insecurity and conflict in many parts of the country. In the face of these colossal and continually widening crises confronting our Nation, the state governance and political leadership continue to be incapable of rising to the occasion, while the military and security forces along with the intelligence services continue to dither, as if overwhelmed by the challenge.
The KHRC is further deeply concerned that leaders have resorted to the all too familiar reactionary mode of giving instructions and orders without the benefit of insightful and actionable information and intelligence. Such instructions have engendered forms of discrimination and ethnic profiling leading to inhuman treatment of individual such as evident in “Usalama Watch Operation”; targeted security checks; policy declaration on biometric registration without the requisite legislative support; and government resorting to collecting and counting bodies rather than providing security.
Alienation of communities amid political blame games
It is critical for the state to realize that such actions results in alienation of communities who would otherwise provide useful intelligence information towards preventing attacks. Such actions also result in polarisation of the Kenyan society along ethnic, religious and class lines which thence portend a major security crisis. KHRC further notes with grave concern the manner in which Parliament continues to abdicate its constitutional responsibility of exercising oversight over security matters affecting the country. The political class continues to engage in an endless blame game geared at furthering their campaigns’ for the next term clearly ignoring the effect of insecurity of the country they so badly decide to have power over.
At such a critical moment, all Kenyans are obligated by the sovereign power they possess to make their voices heard, and call the leadership to order. Notwithstanding the fact that all people must at all times undertake all measures possible to ensure that our country is secure, the Constitution of Kenya confers primary obligation to secure safety and security for all people living in Kenya on the government of Kenya. This responsibility must however be executed within the confines of the rule of law and protection and promotion of all rights of all people and groups.
The KHRC demands that as a measure of the seriousness of the current situation that all arms of government cease their bickering and superiority contests and as a matter of urgency convene to put in place mechanisms and frameworks to address insecurity. We insist that just this once they prioritise the collective interests of our people over their individual greed.
Specifically we call upon;
- The executive and relevant organs to fast-track comprehensive reforms of the national security organs in the country; to ensure that immediate steps be are taken towards realizing an improved coordination among security services, agencies and relevant constitutional bodies;
- The executive and National Assembly to fast-tract the formulation and enactment of a national policy on security which will provide legal backing and clear framework for comprehensive security sector reforms;
- The KHRC finally calls on all the citizens and non-citizens of Kenya to uphold the sanctity and dignity of human life and as such take responsibility of their individual security as well as promote the security, human rights and dignity of all their fellow human beings;
- The National Assembly to move with speed to enact the Identification and Registration of Persons Bill to enable the biometric Integrated Population Registration System;
- Finally, we impress upon the President to set up an all-inclusive and professional taskforce to interrogate the root causes and factors of the increase in terror attacks, conflicts and insecurity in the country, and publicly present a conclusive report within specified timelines to the executive further policy and legislative actions
- The National Assembly to give cognisance and legislative and budgetary strength to the now almost redundant National Cohesion and Integration Commission to deal with ethnic and religious tensions.
Finally and most importantly the KHRC wishes to register our sincere condolences to the families of the many civilians as well as the many security personnel who have lost their loved ones, those who were injured or lost property during any of the senseless incidences of insecurity and conflict witnessed in the country. We hope that deaths of the many children, women, men including those gallant security officers who died in the line of duty will not be in vain, instead the state will embrace a human rights based approach to security and that all leaders and citizens will rise above ethnic, class, political and other affiliation, work together and strive to bring back safe Kenya.
The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) is a premier non-governmental human rights and governance institution that was founded in 1991. Our mission is to foster human rights, democratic values, human dignity and social justice, with the mandate of securing human rights states and societies. Its founders and staff are among the foremost leaders and activists in struggles for human rights and democratic reforms in Kenya. KHRC works at community level with human rights networks across Kenya and links community, national and international human rights concerns.