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Joint Global Statement on Kenya: Denouncing Police Violence Against Civil Society Advocates

AUGUST 6, 2008 --

We, the undersigned women's and civil society groups worldwide, urgently condemn the violent arrests and sexual violations on Tuesday, July 8th in Nairobi, of seven civil rights activists including prominent Kenyan lawyer Ann Njogu, by senior officers of the Kenyan police prior to a planned peaceful protest. These attacks represent the most recent attacks by police on democratic advocates in Kenya in a period of post-election violence in which sexual assault by police against women and children has been widely reported. They are gross violations of law: Kenya's Constitution protects free speech and assembly, while rape is a serious crime.

Background: The violent arrests took place at a city restaurant near the Grand Regency Hotel where some 250 people had gathered to stage a peaceful protest over alleged corruption related to sale of the hotel and the role of Kenya's recent Finance Minister. According to a local press report, seven activists (known hereafter at the 'Kenyan Group of Seven') were at the restaurant when police arrived and violently began beating and arresting them. Those injured include: Okoiti Omtata , George Nyongesa, Sheik Ramadhan, Abel Onkundi, Ouma Odera, Fredrick Odhiambo and Ann Njogu. They were charged in a city court with taking part in an unlawful assembly and have been released on a Sh10,000 cash bail. Their case is set for August 8.

We, the undersigned, condemn the Kenyan police's brutal and unlawful actions against civilians exercising their Constitutionally-protected right to assembly, and urge President His Excellency Mwai Kibaki to take action to uphold Kenya's rule of law. We call:

* For the dismissal of all charges against these civil society advocates, known here as the 'Kenyan Group of Seven.'
* On the Prime Minister and other reformers in government to issue a public statement denouncing these violations of Kenyan law, in his role as Prime Minister coordinating all activities of government.
* On Kenyan authorities, including President Kibaki, the Prime Minister and Parliament, and prominent political leaders to publicly support the democratic voice, right of assembly and peaceful protest by citizens in Kenya.
* On Kenyan's high political, legal, civil society and police leaders to publicly condemn these acts of violence, including sexual violence of any kind against women and children.
* On Kenyan authorities to immediately arrest the accused policemen, including senior and junior officers, and prosecute them for charges of 'grievous bodily harm' and 'indecent sexual assault' respectively. Since many people publicly witnessed the arrests and beatings of the Group of Seven, the identities of the accused police are publicly known. The government thus does not require an lengthy investigation into who was involved, but should move to arrest and prosecute them. Kenya's police must uphold the law, and be prosecuted for breaking the law.
* Kenya's government and police to carry out a thorough and transparent investigation into their roles and responsibility in these attacks via prosecution, and to make these findings public. Transparency in government is a critical element of democracy.
* For the immediate resignation of the Kenyan Commissioner of Police, General Ali, who is accused of overseeing the violent beatings, sexual violations, and arrests of the Kenyan Group of Seven.
* For President Kibaki to relieve said Commissioner of his duties should he fail to resign forthwith. While taking his oath of office, President Kibaki swore to protect the Constitution while guaranteeing safety to all Kenyans.
* For the immediate suspension of deputy police spokesman Charles Wahongo, who engaged protesters in a heated argument outside Vigilance House on July 8 before police began their attacks on the group, and a transparent investigation into his role and responsibility.
* For the immediate suspension of the commanding officer at Police Station Gigiri who failed to record the complaints of arrested activists when asked to do so into the Police docket, according to standard operating procedure, preventing any official registry of the crimes.
* On Kenyan high officials accused of illegal profiteering and corruption in the case of the Grand Regency Hotel to resign or be relieved of their duties until a full and transparent government inquiry into the matter had been completed, and these findings made public.
* On the government and its officials including the police to uphold the rule of law in Kenya, without fear or favor, to perpetrators of crime, and that Grand Corruption be investigated and prosecuted as a major barrier to social justice in Kenya.
* On the European Union, African Union, United Nations member-states and the United States State Department to issue public statements condemning the ongoing use of violence by police against these Kenyan democracy activists, including sexual violence, and to urge Kenya, as a member-state, to support the rule of law there, including citizens' right of assembly, and to uphold its laws on rape.

Signed,

1. World YWCA, Global
2. L. Muthoni Wanyeki, Kenya Human Rights Commission, Kenya
3. AIDS-Free World, USA
4. Binaifer Nowrowjee, Open Society Initiative for East Africa (OSIEA), Kenya
5. Steve Musau, Release Political Prisoners Trust, Nairobi, Kenya
6. James Onyango, KAIPPG Kenya, Kenya
7. Mutinyu Dominic, Martens Africa Foundation, Kenya
8. Warigia Bowman, Doctoral Candidate, Harvard University, USA
9. Jane Anyango, Kibera Women for Peace and Fairness, Kenya
10. Stella Ndugire for Centre for Rights Education and Awareness (CREAW), Kenya
11. Athena Network, USA
12. Leah Okeyo, Jacolo Rural Women's HIV Project, Kenya
13. Anne-christine d'Adesky, Athena, WE-ACTx, USA
14. Sonke Gender Justice Network, S. Africa
15. World Pulse Magazine, USA
16. International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS, UK
17. Global AIDS Alliance, USA
18. Janet Feldman, KAIPPG International, USA
19. Theresa W. Mwicigi, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA
20. Tom Okeyo Obiero, Lake Fellowship, Kenya
21. Warigia Bowman, Doctoral Candidate, Harvard University, USA
22. Sophie Dowllar, NCEC / 5Cs, Kenya
23. Jane Anyango, Kibera Women for Peace and Fairness, Kenya
24. ActALIVE, USA & Global
25. Samuel Okwoyo Bogeni, Mwanyagetinge group, Minnesota, USA
26. Fidèle Rutasiyere, Rwanda Men`s Resource Centre, RWANDA
27. Marlise Richter, Steve Biko Centre for Bioethics, Wits Universit, South Africa
28. Edouard Munyamaliza, Office of the Canadian Embassy in Kigali, Rwanda
29. JudyAnderson & Gwendolyn Lusi, Heal Africa, US, UK & Democratic Republic of Congo
30. Eric Fleutelot & Clemence Prunier-Duparge - SIDA Action, France
31. María José Vázquez, ICW, Athena, Red2002, Spain
32. Louise Shap, Canada
33. Sally Fisher, Intersect Worldwide, USA & global
34. Randy Roberson, Humanitarian Emergency Logistics & Preparedness Inc. (H.E.L.P.), USA
35. Carol Devine, Dignitas International, Canada & Malawi
36. ACT UP East Bay, Oakland, CA , USA
37. Erika Hamer, War Child, UK
38. Dr Washington Makodingo, Head of Secretariat, National Civil Society Congress, Kenya
39. Jeanne Bergman, Ph.D., AIDStruth.org, USA
40. Jennifer Gatsi Mallet, International Community of Women Living with HIV, Namibia
41. Philomene Cyulinyana, Femmes Rwandaises Seropositives Dans La Lutte Contre Le SIDA, Rwanda.
42. Patricia Siplon, Vermont Global Health Coalition, USA
43. Health GAP USA
44. Professor Brook K. Baker, Northeastern U. School of Law Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy, Boston, USA
45. Ibrahim Ceesay, Children for Children organization, The Gambia.
46. Anne-Kenya Dubuisson, Housing Works, NY
47. Peter Burgess, Affiliation Transparency and Accountability Network, USA
48. Babajide Kassim, FBS Nigeria, Nigeria
49. Ernesto Cassinda, Kwanza-Sul YMCA, Angola
50. Joyce Hunter, Research Institute Without Walls, a global NGO
51. Job K. Ngugi, Kenya
52. Diane Waituika, 5 Centuries Theatre Activists, Kenya
53. Sophie Dowllar, Five Centuries Theatre Activists, Kenya
54. Jean Kemitare, Gender Based Violence Prevention Network, Uganda
55. Udaya Kalupathirana, INFORM Documentation Centre, Sri Lanka
56. Sudarshan Gunawardena, Rights Now, Sri Lanka
57. Sepali kottegoda, Women and Media Collective, Sri Lanka
58. Otieno Aluoko, Community leader, Kenya
59. International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS (ICW)
60. Nidhi Singh, India & San Francisco
61. Odhiambo T Oketch, CEO, KCDN Nairobi
62. Mohamed Ali Kaourah, CNJ, Djibouti, Republique de Djibouti
63. Deogratius Odie, WIFIP, Kisumu, Kenya
64. Egghead Odewale,West African Bar Association, Abuja, Nigeria
65. Margaret Ohan, Safehaven International, Nigeria
66. African Services Committee, US

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Comments

Wendy's picture

Justice through Peaceful Actions

The peaceful protest work of these individuals, is courageous and necessary if lasting peaceful change is ever going to take place. There example speaks volumes, even though, they had to endure horrible acts of police brutality.

I ask, how else, can help these people, so they can continue to be peaceful advocates for change, and have a safe place where their voices can be heard and embraced?

Wendy

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