Kenya: Demolition of one the Coalition for Grassroots Human Rights Defenders offices

04/04/2018
Urgent Appeal

KEN 001 / 0418 / OBS 038
Office demolition /
Physical attack /
Threats
Kenya
April 4, 2018

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Kenya.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the demolition of one the Coalition for Grassroots Human Rights Defenders (CGHRD)’s offices and about the physical assaults and threats directed to several of its members. CGHRD’s office had been operating since January 2018 as a meeting space for local grassroots human rights defenders working in slums and rural areas and as space for reporting and documenting gross human rights violations in the Dam Slums’ community, Kangemi Division, Nairobi County.

According to the information received, on March 27, 2018, at 2.00 pm, CGHRD’s office in Dam Slums was demolished by police officers from Kabete police station in Nairobi led by Chief Kitisuru Ward Rose Kibocha and who did not show any order of demolition. The police, armed with metal bars and together with youths in civil clothes, tore down the structure and the iron sheets, bringing down the poles and carrying away the material in a handcart pushed by the youths. At the time of publication of this appeal, CGHRD members have not been able to retrieve the materials. While demolishing CGHRD office, the police also demolished a stall used by a local woman to sell vegetables and another adjacent structure.

During the demolition, Chief Kitisuru Ward Rose Kibocha allegedly physically assaulted CGHRD member Mr. David Otieno. Moreover, other CGHRD members present during the demolition were threatened by the police officers who claimed that “they had not run out of bullets” [1].

Immediately after the demolition of the office, CGHRD convened a meeting at the spot where the office stood. The local village Chairman Steve Shipanzi attempted to disrupt the meeting by intervening with local thugs but was repulsed by the community. During the meeting, CGHRD members wrote a petition addressed to the officer in charge of Kabete police station regarding their office demolition, Mr. David Otieno’s physical assault and the threats received.

On March 28, 2018, CGHRD members held a peaceful procession towards the offices of the Kangemi District Officer,WestlandsDistrict Commissioner and the office of the Member of Parliament for Westlands constituency, in Nairobi, where they delivered copies of their petition.

On March 26, 2018, CGHRD had circulated a petition against a case of land grabbing concerning a plot of land which had been used by the Kikwetu Football Club and reported the harassment and arbitrary detention of local residents by the police. On the same day, CGHRD Kangemi Cluster members received threats of demolition of the office from one of the policemen involved. However, when inquired by one of the members, the police denied having such plans.

The Observatory fears that the demolition of CGHRD’s office is a reprisal against the organisation’s peaceful and legitimate human rights activities and in particular their work against land-grabbing and the arbitrary detention of local residents.

Over the past years, the Observatory has documented the shrinking space and the climate of hostility in which civil society organisations operate in Kenya [2]. The Observatory would like to recall that this happens under the same administration that has been undermining, for five years since its signing into law on January 14, 2013, the commencement of the Public Benefit Organisation (PBO) Act 2013, a law seeking to provide an enabling environment for NGOs. Despite the High Court ruling for its immediate overdue commencement on October 31, 2016, no further step has been undertaken so far [3]. Instead, as of today the NGO Coordination Act 1990 is still regulating the space for civil society with broad and vague provisions leaving room for arbitrariness and abuses against NGOs [4].

Thus, the Observatory calls upon the Kenyan authorities to ensure the physical and psychological integrity of all CGHRD members and of their offices and to put an end to all acts of harassment against them.

Moreover, the Observatory urges the Kenyan authorities to conduct an immediate,thorough and impartial investigation into the demolition of CGHRD’s office and on the physical assault and threats against Mr. David Otieno and other CGHRD members.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Kenya urging them to:

i. Put an end to all forms of harassment against CGHRD and its members as well as against all human rights defenders in Kenya so that they are able to carry out their peaceful and legitimate human rights activities without any hindrance or fear of reprisals;
ii. Guarantee under all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of all CGHRD members and human rights defenders in the Kenya;
iii. Carry out an immediate,thorough and impartial investigation into the demolition of CGHRD’s office and on the physical assault and threats against Mr. David Otieno and other CGHRD members in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and sanction them as provided by the law;
iv. Follow the order of the High Court of Kenya by effectively implementing the PBO Act without further delay;
v. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, in particular its Articles 1 and 12.2; and
vi. Ensure in all circumstances, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Kenya.

Addresses:

· Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya, Fax: +254-020-2436, Email: president@statehousekenya.go.ke
· Hon. William Ruto, Deputy-President of the Republic of Kenya Email: dp@deputypresident.go.ke
· Hon. Joseph Nkaissery, Interior & Coordination Ministry
Email: ps.interior@kenya.go.ke

· Mr. Joseph Boinnet, Inspector General of Police, Email: nps@nationalpolice.go.ke
· Macharia Njeru, Chairperson, Independent Policing Oversight Authority, Email: macharia.njeru@ipoa.go.ke
· Otiende Amollo, Chairperson, Commission on
Administrative Justice, Email:otiendeamollo@yahoo.com; otiendeamollo@ombudsman.go.ke
· Commissioner Kagwiria Mbogori, Chairperson, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR), Fax: +254-020- 2716160 E-mail haki@knchr.org
· H.E. Mr. Stephen Ndungu Karau, Permanent Mission of Kenya to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 731 29 05, E-mail: mission.kenya@ties.itu.int
· H.E. Johnson Weru, Embassy of Kenya in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 340 10 50 / + 32 2 340 10 68. Email: kenbrussels@hotmail.com


Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Kenya in your respective countries.

***
Geneva-Paris, April 3, 2018

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
· E-mail:Appeals@fidh-omct.org
· 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

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