STATEMENT OF CONCERN BY HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS ABOUT INCREASED THREATS BEING FACED BY HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS AND JOURNALISTS

We as human rights organisations are gathered here today to express our concern about the increased incidence of threats against human rights defenders.  We have noted with concern over the past six months an increasing trend in threats against human rights defenders.  The incidence of such threats has in the last three months intensified.

In particular we note that individuals and or representatives of institutions that have spoken out on the issues of the ICC and integrity have in particular received threats from senior members of the National Police Service.

We note that during the month of December, after the Civil Society Working Group on Police Reforms issued their statement of concern with regards to the integrity of some candidates for the offices of IG and DIG, various members of that team received threats.  We also note the recent berating by parliamentarians of the Chairperson of the Commission on Administrative Justice, Mr. Otiende Amollo, after the Commission made recommendations with respect to the exclusion of potential candidates on the basis of integrity.

We are also cognizant of the rather unpleasant tone that has characterized discourses with respect to the ICC and a continuous trend of ridiculing individuals who have spoken in support of the process or on the issue of witness protection.  In this regard we would particularly like to express concern about the situation pertaining to the Chairperson of the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), Professor Makau Mutua.

There has been recurrent harassment and intimidation of HRDs through threats, arbitrary arrest and detention and malicious prosecution of HRDs who have raised concerns with regard to deteriorating security situation at urban slums, and those at the forefront of highlighting corruption and champions for the rights of the poor and marginalized groups in the society is a cause for concern.

We have also received reports with regards to various journalists and other human rights defenders who have undertaken investigative work. We are concerned that these threats could have the effect of creating a climate of fear which is not conducive as the country is approaching the electoral period.

We wish to remind our fellow citizens that Kenya is a state party to the Rome Statute, to which it acceded voluntarily.  Furthermore the citizens of Kenya overwhelmingly voted for the Constitution in 2010, Chapter Six of the Constitution which enshrines the principles of leadership and integrity are a fundamental part of the principles and values that we as Kenyans have agreed to be bound by.

We urge all state organs and in particular the IEBC, the National Police Service Commission and EACC to support the initiatives being engaged in by the Kenyan people to ensure that we have leadership that meet the integrity standards that are laid out in our Constitution.  We commend the CAJ, Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA), CIC, KNCHR, the Judiciary and other bodies that have been standing up on issues of integrity.

We ask the Kenya Police Service, National Police Service Commission and IPOA as well as other state organs charged with the responsibility of security to reassure the public and human rights defenders that they have put in place measures to ensure their safety particularly in the lead up to and after the elections.