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Note: This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published
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Kenya: Recent Documents, Part 2
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Kenya: Recent Documents, Part 2
Date Distributed (ymd): 950802
Human Rights Watch/Africa
485 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10017-6104
TEL: 212/972-8400 FAX: 212/972-0905
1522 K Street, N.W.
Washington D.C. 20005
TEL: 202/371-6592 FAX: 202/371-0124
PARIS CLUB DONORS TO REVIEW KENYA'S DETERIORATING HUMAN
Human Rights Watch calls for future aid to be conditioned on
On July 24, Kenya's donors will meet in Paris to deliberate
Kenya's human rights and economic record. "Kenya: Old Habits
Die Hard," released today by the New York-based organization
Human Rights Watch/Africa notes that since the last donor
meeting in December 1994 there has been a notable
deterioration in the human rights situation in Kenya.
President Daniel arap Moi has intensified the crackdown
against human rights activists, opposition politicians and
internally displaced persons. Human Rights Watch calls on
all the donor countries to link all non-humanitarian aid to
improvements in the human rights situation.
The escalation of human rights abuses followed new
commitments of foreign aid, pledged without strong human
rights conditions, at the last consultative group meeting of
Kenya's donors in December 1994. For the first time since
1991, donors did not express strong concern about continuing
human rights abuses. Despite strong evidence to the contrary
the donor statement noted "the positive developments over
the past year with respect to the democratization process,
ethnic tensions and human rights issues."
This resumption of aid, without human rights cautions, seems
to have emboldened the government. President Moi perceived
the aid commitments of 1994 as tacit consent from the
international community to revert to past practices of
repression. President Moi's attacks on his critics have
become more pronounced: there have been forced relocations
of victims of government-sponsored ethnic violence; bannings
and attacks on organizations and publications critical of
the government; and arrests of opposition politicians.
President Moi has warned that any criticism of the
government will be considered treason. These tactics
attacking the independent press and non-governmental
community are reminiscent of the period before 1991.
The report highlights the fact that the government's
continued persecution of certain ethnic groups is a
potentially disastrous policy. Human Rights Watch/Africa has
documented this politically motivated ethnic violence since
1991, and estimates that it has caused at least 1,500 deaths
and displaced some 300,000 in Kenya's Rift Valley Province.
Although large-scale attacks have decreased, acts of
harassment and intimidation continue against those who
attempt to return to their land. These reports of threats or
actual violence have deterred the bulk of the displaced from
returning to their homes. Most remain in church compounds or
abandoned buildings, often in destitute and overcrowded
conditions. A joint Kenyan government and United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP) project to resettle the
estimated 300,000 driven from their land by the "ethnic"
violence is failing. Since the program began almost two
years ago, there has been little reintegration. The
government has manipulated and undermined its implementing
partner, UNDP, forestalling genuine resettlement efforts. In
December 1994, government officials forcibly dispersed
approximately 2,000 displaced persons.
Human Rights Watch is concerned that the forced removal of
certain ethnic groups from the Rift Valley Province
contributes to the growing calls by high ranking government
officials for the introduction of majimboism, a federal
system based on ethnicity. Such a political system would
essentially force those ethnic groups which largely support
the political opposition out of the Rift Valley Province,
which has the largest number of parliamentary seats and is
the base of Kenya's agricultural economy.
In February 1995, two independent organizations, the Center
for Law and Research International (Clarion) and the
Mwangaza Trust were banned by the government. Clarion, a
research group was notified that it had violated the terms
of the Nongovernmental Organizations (NGO) Act by "hurting
the image of the government" following the release of a
report on government corruption. Mwangaza Trust, launched in
September 1994, was formed for the purpose of promoting
"educational, research and sound economic management of
legal and cultural policies in Kenya" was notified that it
had engaged in activities "which require it to be registered
under the Societies and NGO Act," although the letter did
not specify what these activities were. Another banning in
February involved the magazine Inooro, which has been
published by the Catholic Church for many years. The church
has been publicly critical of the government's handling of
corruption and ethnic violence.
Opposition politicians continue to face harassment from the
government. Politically-motivated criminal charges are
constantly being brought against opposition members. In
early May, top members of the Kenyan opposition announced
the formation of a new political party, Safina. Safina's
application for registration under the Societies Act has
been pending since June 20, 1995. However, President Moi and
several ruling party politicians have spoken out against its
registration. On June 23, the Attorney-General published a
bill, which, if enacted into law, will severely restrict the
formation, registration and functioning of both new and
existing opposition parties. One founding member of Safina,
conservationist Richard Leakey, a Kenyan of English origin,
was denounced by President Moi as a racist colonialist.
Shortly after, one hundred armed Maasai stormed the Leakey
home demanding the departure of "the colonialist."
Another disturbing development has been a series of attacks
against the Legal Advice Center (LAC) by unknown assailants.
In February and March, the office's premises were firebombed
and two security guards were shot and injured. The attackers
have all escaped. Although there is no current indication of
who is responsible for the attacks against LAC, the
well-established pattern of attacks on government critics by
unidentified assailants raises concerns that the LAC is
being targeted for its efforts to stem government abuses.
Another similar attack took place in February, when the
office of the outspoken magazine Finance was firebombed.
Finance has been repeatedly targeted by the government in
the past including the jailing of its editor, the impounding
of the magazine and violent attacks on its offices.
Human Rights Watch concludes that the international
community has used the wrong benchmarks to measure the
government's tolerance of political pluralism. The report
notes that donors appear willing to countenance harassment
and intimidation of government critics as long as the
government continues to liberalize the economy and retain a
multi-party system in name. However, this approach is
short-sighted. Long-term economic and political stability
cannot be ensured without government accountability and
respect for the rule of law.
The human rights situation in Kenya continues to warrant
sustained international attention. Multi-partyism has not
been accompanied by the requisite institutional and legal
reform essential to genuine democratization. In response to
international and domestic criticism, the government
periodically suspends its harassment of critics or adopts
different methods. Given the deteriorating human rights
situation, renewed international attention could improve
government practices once again. Without renewed human
rights conditionality on the part of all Kenya's donors in
1995, it is likely that the human rights situation will
continue to worsen.
At the July 24 meeting, donors will have an opportunity to
revisit the December 1994 decision which praised the
government's human rights record and made new aid pledges
without human rights conditions. At a minimum, donors should
require that the Kenyan government:
Cease its policy of ethnic persecution and provide
additional and adequate security in order to enable
those displaced by its policy of ethnic persecution to
return to their land. Continuing and past attacks of
ethnic violence should be thoroughly investigated and
charges brought where there is evidence against
individuals alleged to be directly responsible for
killing and destruction of property. In all cases, the
criminal law must be applied without regard for ethnic
group, political party, or other status.
Return those forcibly displaced in December 1994 to the
areas they were taken from. Police and ruling party
officials responsible for brutality and harassment of
the displaced must be disciplined for their actions.
Where legitimate reasons for relocation exist, adequate
alternative sites should be provided in advance.
Conduct all action on resettlement of the displaced in
full cooperation and consultation with the government's
implementing partner, UNDP, and local relief and church
Cease the harassment of opposition politicians and
allow free political activity for all opposition
Cease the intimidation of the independent press.
Lift the banning orders against Clarion, Mwangaza Trust
and Inooro and permit them to operate.
Institute the requisite institutional and legal reform
essential to genuine democratization by repealing
repressive legislation and permitting judicial
Human Rights Watch calls on Kenya's donors to restore human
rights conditions to all non-humanitarian aid to Kenya. It
is essential that the closing statement of the donor meeting
contains strong and unequivocal condemnation of the recent
Copies of this report are available from Human Rights Watch,
Publications Department, 485 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY
10017-6105 for $3.60 (domestic shipping) and $4.50
Human Rights Watch/Africa Human Rights Watch is a
nongovernmental organization established in 1978 to monitor
and promote the observance of internationally recognized
human rights in Africa, the Americas, Asia, the Middle East
and among the signatories of the Helsinki accords. It is
supported by contributions from private individuals and
foundations worldwide. It accepts no government funds,
directly or indirectly. The staff includes Kenneth Roth,
executive director; Cynthia Brown, program director; Holly
J. Burkhalter, advocacy director; Robert Kimzey,
publications director; Jeri Laber, special advisor; Gara
LaMarche, associate director; Lotte Leicht, Brussels Office
Director; Juan Mendez, general counsel; Susan Osnos,
communications director; Jemera Rone, counsel; Joanna
Weschler, United Nations representative; and Derrick Wong,
finance and administration director. Robert L. Bernstein is
the chair of the board and Adrian W. DeWind is vice chair.
Its Africa division was established in 1988 to monitor and
promote the observance of internationally recognized human
rights in sub-Saharan Africa. Janet Fleischman is the
Washington director; Alex Vines is the research associate;
Kimberly Mazyck is the associate; Alison DesForges, Kirsti
Lattu, Bronwen Manby, Binaifer Nowrojee and Lynn Welchman
are consultants. William Carmichael is the chair of the
advisory committee and Alice Brown is the vice chair.
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by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC). APIC's
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on Africa-related legislation.