The Kenya Civil Society CommuniquÉ on Extra-judicial Killings and the State of the Nation Nairobi, March 12, 2009

The Kenya civil society in its various formations across the country has assessed the state of the nation in the wake of the brutal broad-day light gunning down of our members Oscar Kamau King’ara and John Paul Oulu (GPO) by people believed to be police officers on a mission to assassinate the two on Thursday March 5, 2009 on State house road near the university of Nairobi Halls of residence. We condemn the cynical and brutal assassination of our brothers and vow to take all the necessary steps to ensure their killers are brought to justice. We also condemn the barbaric murder of an innocent university student, Godwin Ogato Gisairo, the same night by a police officer.

The assassinations of our two colleagues came merely six hours after the government spokesperson Dr. Alfred Mutua had announced that the government was planning “to deal with the officials of the Oscar Foundation” for allegedly funding the Mungiki sect. The Prime Minister has since contradicted Dr. Mutua. It therefore is not clear the basis upon which Dr. Mutua continues to be in office. Mr. Kiraithe, the Police spokesperson remains in office to continue fanning his propaganda machinery against members of the civil society, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and hapless Kenyans who have been victims of the unstated government policy of executing suspects, instead of taking them to court. Several victims of this propaganda have had to go into hiding or even flee the country after receiving death threats. Some are government officials of rank.

We are concerned that Kenya is headed in the wrong direction- the direction of a failed state whose institutions cannot function. The signs of Kenya becoming a failed state are here for the world to see. While government officials remain in a state of denial, the Judiciary, the AG’s office, the police force, the cabinet, Parliament and indeed all institutions of governance have failed to deliver on the mandate for which they were established, and especially after the National Accord of February 28th 2008.

The State seems to have been captured totally by criminal and corrupt elements in politics and business, which look determined to render democracy irrelevant, suspend the constitution and do away with the rule of Law.

Fundamental principles such as the right to a fair trial have been done away with at least for poor unemployed Kenyans and government critics such as civil society and Human rights activists. The taking root of the culture of using the gun to execute Kenyans and calling them Mungiki is shocking and speaks of a state headed for failure. Kenyans no longer have trust in any state institutions even the Presidency. They fear these institutions have been captured by criminal and corrupt interests and subsequently turned against the citizens. This cannot be allowed to continue!

It is concern about the entrenched degree of impunity and decay that moved the Kenya national Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) to issue its seminal Report – “The Cry of blood”: report on Extra-judicial Killings and Disappearances last September; The Oscar Foundation released their report The Killing fields: who is Guilty? RPP trust released their report Spinning the wheel against Impunity in Kenya. And these reports and particularly the KNCHR formed the basis of the United Nations Human rights Commission’s request to send the UN special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial Killings Prof. Philip Alston to Nairobi.

In the light of the Prof. Alston report on Extra-Judicial killings of suspects and the subsequent assassination of our members Oscar King’ara and John Paul Oulu; the civil society in Kenya hereby communicates the following;

1. The Kenya Civil society supports the expansion of the investigating team into the murders of Oscar King’ara and Oulu GPO. We welcome the assistance offered by the United States Ambassador in Nairobi for two FBI agents to join the team of investigators.

As the investigations get under way, we hereby demand that Commissioner Ali, Mr. Kiraithe and Dr. Mutua resign immediately to allow for a fair and credible investigation to be conducted. These three had an interest in eliminating Oscar and GPO and therefore credible investigations can never be conducted with them in office.

2. We strongly believe that the police killed our two colleagues for their gallant role in fighting impunity and particularly in working with Prof. Alston to expose the thousands of cases of extra-judicial killings. We therefore remain firm in our demand on President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to implement the Prof. Alston report on extrajudicial killings in full.

For the record, the Civil society in Kenya has consistently, over the last three years, called for the sacking of Mr. Amos Wako as the AG and Brigadier General Ali as the Commissioner of Police. These two Officers have come to institutionalize impunity as the official culture of administering the Law. The Prof. Alston report only confirmed our researches, investigations and findings over the last three years regarding these officers. For impunity to be uprooted, the two Principals to the National Accord must urgently sack these two officers. The full implementation of the Prof. Alston report is no longer a matter to be left to politicians and those found culpable in the fight against impunity to decide upon. The recommendations in the report are recommendations that are intended to safeguard our state from becoming a failed state and therefore politicians can no longer play games thinking that Kenya belongs to them alone. To allow Major General Ali and Mr. Wako to continue to smack at the public is a betrayal of Kenyans by the two principals of the National accord, and will lead Kenyans to conclude, if they haven’t already done so, that the National Accord and its promise of fundamental rights was a hoax. Mr. Kofi Annan who is in Kenya today, should take serious note of the danger we are in because of this impunity.

3. The Civil society in Kenya reiterates the fact that Kenya is a signatory to the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the various instruments and treaties. Our country therefore operates on the basis of known universal standards. As a democracy, we condemn strongly the dangerous politicization of the police force and the operation of the security policy. We warn government that it cannot be allowed to take the Hitler route of suspending the rule of law in order to “fix the Mungiki problem”. We observe that the government and the police are keen to give activists and groups they do not like a bad name so that the public can support the policy of extra judicial killings. Unfortunately elements in the media are accomplices in this defamation.

Note that the civil society has not called for suspects like Yagnesh Devani, Anglo leasing and Goldenberg suspects and other economic saboteurs to be hanged on Uhuru highway for destroying our economy and civilization. We have neither called for the execution of Hon. John Michuki for authorizing the raid on a media house and the destruction of its property worth millions of shillings! We have not called for the execution of those who financed the post election violence and those who rigged the elections to be executed. These are the real criminals who have destroyed the nation and rendered nearly 14 million youths jobless and destitute. But we have never called for their summary executions but for the strict observance of the principle of a fair trial and due process. These suspects are seated in cabinet ordering the killing of suspects.

4. We therefore call upon the two Principals to the National Accord to implement in full and urgently the Waki and Kriegler reports. These two reports have tremendous and far-reaching recommendations that are intended to save the nation from collapse; deliver justice and facilitate national reconciliation and reconstruction.

5. We further wish to inform H.E. Dr. Kofi Annan that the Grand Coalition has failed to implement the National Accord. We are concerned that the Grand Coalition government has returned to “the business as usual” mindset. These two Parties are going about business as if they are running an elected government. This Grand Coalition government (GCG) was formed for a limited mandate of implementing the National Accord. Period. If the GCG fails as it has failed to implement the National Accord within the stipulated time lines. That is why Kenyans must continue to be vigilant to push for the implementation of the National Accord to the book. Fir this we require not only a guarantee of the necessary of freedoms but also a guarantee of our security.

We have observed and are very concerned as the civil society in Kenya that the two Principals no longer treat the National Accord with the seriousness it deserves. The Civil society in Kenya shall never be distracted from the full implementation of the National Accord. Assassinations, threats, propaganda and impunity in and by the state will not divert our attention nor weaken our commitment to advocating the full implementation of the National Accord to save the nation from impunity, poverty, death, failed leadership and criminal plunder of the state. These are bitter fruits we cannot wish for ourselves as Kenyans.

6. The Civil society in Kenya is in support of the peaceful students’ processions on Tuesday country wide to condemn the killings of their fellow colleagues by the police and to demand for justice and accountability from the various government officials who are culpable for the assassinations of GPO and Oscar King’ara.

We are concerned that criminal elements acted outside the students’ procession in Nairobi to steal food and drinks from private premises. These individuals- non students who we are told were hired by certain politicians to taint the intentions of the students- should be apprehended and punished.

But we are more concerned by the attempt by sections of the media, lately working as the propaganda arm of the police force, which have tried to spin the peaceful procession against its noble intentions. We hold the view that the media prominence given to the sideshow of the peaceful procession is aimed at criminalizing the rights and freedoms of Kenyans to assemble, associate and express their grievances against the government.

For several months, sections of the media have been the mouthpiece of the police in the extra-judicial killings and criminalization of the rights of Kenyans to liberty as enshrined in our constitution.

- A day before Oscar and GPO were gunned down, a certain media house posed an SMPS opinion poll Question: “Should the police be allowed to shoot to kill Mungiki suspects?” This was asking the public to approve of crime and an incitement to the police to take lives without regard to due process. How sad that a media could do such a thing-where are their ethics?

- After the Prime Minister endorsed the right of the students to have their processions, a media house posed: “was the prime minister right in supporting the students’ demonstrations?”

- After the peaceful student procession, student leaders apologized for the hooligans who violated private premises; a media house posed: “should the apology by students be accepted?”

We urge the media to serve the interests of the people Kenya and not the government and the police. These are institutions whose officials are duty bearers and who hold office in trust for the people. The media must never be part of a propaganda plan for the government and the police to declare war on the citizens. That will be irresponsible and tragic beyond injury. The media has done very well with exposing corruption and promoting accountability. It is therefore unfortunate that sections of the media want to turn the heat on the students and civil society for demanding accountability and the end to impunity.

We know that the Government is broke even though the Permanent Secretary of finance callously said two days ago ”Government can never get broke, it’s people like you and me who can get broke”. We urge the media as partners with civil society to continue asking the right questions like;

- Where is the money for free primary education that Kenyan taxpayers provided in the budget?

- Where is the money we funded Government to buy food?

- Why is the National Cereals and Produce Board slowing down the delivery of USD 100 worth of food by trying to earn a middleman’s profit at the expense of starving Kenyans?

- How many Kenyans face starvation?

- Where is Yagnesh Devani and the Kshs. 7.6 bn that he defrauded the economy? – Is this not economic sabotage? What is the President of the republic doing about this economic sabotage?

The civil society shall continue to partner with the media to secure media freedom because we know that that freedom is not in the interest of the media owners but in the interests of the people of Kenya. The media should also deliberately and jealously secure the constitutional rights of Kenyans to freedoms of expression, association, assembly and the right to petition the government of Kenya about all grievances.

Kenyans cannot exercise these hard won freedoms at the convenience of the police. No! These rights are inalienable and God-given. The Police department is not given powers to license rallies and processions but the duty to receive notifications about intended rallies, processions, and demonstrations for the force to provide security.

We can see clearly that politicians to ensure that citizens do not assemble, petition and process are using the Police to subvert the constitution. The police force wants to close the democratic space and the civil society in Kenya calls upon Kenyans to see through the agenda of the police and assert the sanctity of the freedoms of all citizens as stipulated in the constitution. We cannot stop holding processions and rallies because “hooligans may infiltrate”. It is the work of the police to arrest those hooligans who act against the law.

If not so, then the police should take over the powers of Parliament and start to make laws that exempt the force from doing their work.

7. Finally, the Civil Society in Kenya, as a fraternity sends condolences to the families of our late brothers Oscar King’ara and GPO Oulu. We wish to assure you that the murder of your sons, and beloved husband (for Nancy Wangechi), beloved Father (for Natalie and Neima) shall not be in vain. We shall continue with the work they had set out to do until Kenya is truly free, democratic, just and prosperous- until the dignity and Human Rights of every single Kenyan are protected and upheld. Bullets and prisons, batons and police boots will never stop the people’s march forward to freedom.
Aluta Continua!!

Watch the Press Conference here.

Click here for more on Extra Judicial Executions in Kenya

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