The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Kenya.
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about a court decision to unfreeze the bank accounts of Haki Africa and Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI), two local human rights organisations which advocate for the respect of human rights and the constitution in the fight against terrorism.
According to the information received, on November 12, 2015, Judge Anyara Emukhule from the Mombasa High Court ordered that the bank accounts of Haki Africa and MUHURI be unfrozen, on the grounds that this freezing was unconstitutional and violated the rights of the two organisations. Judge Emukhule also ordered the nullification of the gazette notice linking MUHURI and Haki Africa to terror activities (see background information).
The State has announced that it will appeal against the ruling.
The Observatory welcomes the decision to unfreeze the bank accounts of Haki Africa and MUHURI, but remains concerned about the administrative and judicial harassment faced by the above-mentioned organisations and against other non-governmental organisations in Kenya, which seems to merely aim at preventing them from carrying out their legitimate human rights work. More generally, the Observatory reiterates its concerns regarding the shrinking space imposed by the Government to the civil society in Kenya.
On April 7, 2015, the Inspector General issued a list entitled “List of Terrorist Organisations”, containing five organisations. These are Al-Shabaab, Mombasa Republican Council, Al-Qaida, ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) and Boko Haram.
The same Gazette notice contained a longer list titled, “List of Entities Suspected to be Associated with Al-Shabaab”. This list has 85 entities which appear to be companies, business organisations and individuals. MUHURI and Haki Africa have been listed here.
Following the publication of this list, the bank accounts of MUHURI and Haki Africa have been frozen. Haki Africa’s medical insurance cover for its staff has also been suspended.
On April 20, 2015, at approximately 2 p.m., officers of the Kenyan Revenue Authorities (KRA) raided the premises of Haki Africa in Mombasa and seized computers, hard disks, documents and financial files. The officers, who presented a court order and were accompanied by at least four policemen, declared to be investigating on allegations of tax evasion. The following weekend, at least one police car was spotted outside the office of Haki Africa, allegedly taking pictures of the premises.
The same facts happened on April 21, 2015, at approximately 11 a.m., in the premises of MUHURI, where officers of the KRA presented a warrant mentioning criminal investigation on possible tax evasion. In addition to seizing documents, they also dismantled the office server.
On May 27, 2015, the Kenyan NGO Coordination Board reportedly issued a decision to de-register Haki Africa and MUHURI and to cancel their licences.
The two NGOs, which were informed of the decision through the media, subsequently wrote to the NGO Coordination Board to request information on the motivations of the decision taken by the Board.
In a letter dated May 28, 2015, the NGO Coordination Board justified the decision with a change in the composition of MUHURI’s board members without notification to the NGO Coordination Board, as well as with allegations of tax evasion and of employment of foreign personnel. In its letter, the NGO Coordination Board urged MUHURI “within 14 days [to] show cause why legal action should not be taken against [the NGO]”.
Previously, on April 30, 2015, in a letter addressed to Haki Africa, the NGO Coordination Board accused the organisation of operating without valid registration, in violation of Section 22 of the NGO Act. The letter further accused the organisation of operating through unregistered bank accounts. In response, HAKI Africa explained its legal status as a project of HAKI Centre, which was duly registered by the NGO Coordination Board in 2012.
On June 11, 2015, the Mombasa High Court ordered that the Kenyan State remove both organisations from the list of terrorist organisations under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
Please write to the authorities of Kenya, urging them to:
i.Put an end to any kind of harassment – including at the judicial level – against Haki Africa, MUHURI, and their members, as well as against all human rights defenders in Kenya, so that they are able to carry out their work without any hindrances;
ii. Remove immediately and unconditionally Haki Africa and MUHURI from the list of terrorist entities, and implement immediately the court decision to unfreeze their bank accounts;
iii. Lift immediately and unconditionally the restrictions on medical insurance as well as any other restriction on the activities of these organisations;
iv. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological security and integrity of the members of Haki Africa and MUHURI, as well as of all human rights defenders in Kenya;
v. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular with its Article 1, which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, as well as with Article 12.2 (“the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”);
vi. Acknowledge the important role played by civil society in promoting tolerance in the struggle against violent extremism and ensure an enabling environment in which human rights defenders and civil society can operate free from hindrance and insecurity;
vii. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Kenya.
· Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya, State House, Statehouse Road, P.O Box: 40530 00100, Nairobi, Kenya., Fax: +254-020-2436, Email: email@example.com
· Hon. William Ruto, Deputy-President of the Republic of Kenya, Office of The Deputy President, Harambee Avenue, P.O. Box 74434 - 00200 Nairobi, Kenya., Tel: +254 20 3247000/1/2/3/4/5, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Hon. Joseph Nkaissery, Interior & Coordination of National Government, Harambee House, Harambee Avenue, P.O Box 30510,00100 Nairobi, Tel: +254-20-2227411, Email: email@example.com
·Commissioner of Police, Kenya Police Headquarters, Vigilance House, Harambee Avenue, P.O. Box 30083, Nairobi, Kenya, Tel: +254-020-341411/6/8, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
· Commissioner Kagwiria Mbogori, Chairperson, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, Fax: +254-020- 2716160 E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
· H.E. Mr. Stephen Ndungu Karau, Permanent Mission of Kenya to the United Nations in Geneva, Av. de la Paix 1-3, 1202 Genève, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 731 29 05, E-mail: email@example.com
· H.E. Johnson Weru, Embassy of Kenya in Brussels, 208 av. W. Churchill, 1180 Uccle, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 340 10 50 / + 32 2 340 10 68. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Kenya in your respective countries.
|Paris-Geneva, November 13, 2015|
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need. The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
·Tel and fax FIDH + 33 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
·Tel and fax OMCT + 41 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29