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Kenya
04.04.18
Urgent Interventions

Demolition of one the Coalition for Grassroots Human Rights Defenders offices

URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY

KEN 001 / 0418 / OBS 038

Office demolition /

Physical attack /

Threats

Kenya
April 4, 2018

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

Description of the situation:

TheObservatory has been informed by reliable sources about the demolition of one theCoalition for Grassroots Human RightsDefenders (CGHRD)’s offices and about the physical assaults and threatsdirected to several of its members. CGHRD’s office had been operating since January2018 as a meeting space for local grassroots human rights defenders working inslums and rural areas and as space for reporting and documenting gross human rightsviolations in the Dam Slums’ community, Kangemi Division, Nairobi County.

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

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

Immediatelyafter the demolition of the office, CGHRD convened a meeting at the spot wherethe office stood. The local village Chairman Steve Shipanzi attempted todisrupt the meeting by intervening with local thugs but was repulsed by thecommunity. During the meeting, CGHRD members wrote a petition addressed to the officerin charge of Kabete police station regarding their office demolition, Mr. DavidOtieno’s physical assault and the threats received.

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

OnMarch 26, 2018, CGHRD had circulated a petition against a case of land grabbingconcerning a plot of land which had been used by the Kikwetu Football Club andreported the harassment and arbitrary detention of local residents by thepolice. On the same day, CGHRD Kangemi Cluster members received threats ofdemolition of the office from one of the policemen involved. However, wheninquired by one of the members, the police denied having such plans.

TheObservatory fears that the demolition of CGHRD’s office is a reprisal against theorganisation’s peaceful and legitimate human rights activities and inparticular their work against land-grabbing and the arbitrary detention oflocal residents.

Overthe past years, the Observatory has documented the shrinking space and theclimate of hostility in which civil society organisations operate in Kenya[2].The Observatory would like to recall that this happens under the sameadministration that has been undermining, for five years since its signing intolaw 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 October31, 2016, no further step has been undertaken so far[3].Instead, as of today the NGO Coordination Act 1990 is still regulating thespace for civil society with broad and vague provisions leaving room forarbitrariness and abuses against NGOs[4].

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

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

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities ofKenya urging them to:

i. Put an end to all forms ofharassment against CGHRD and its members as well as against all human rightsdefenders in Kenya so that they are able to carry out their peaceful andlegitimate human rights activities without any hindrance or fear of reprisals;

ii. Guarantee under all circumstances thephysical and psychological integrity of all CGHRD members and human rightsdefenders in the Kenya;

iii. Carry out an immediate, thoroughand impartial investigation into the demolition of CGHRD’s office and on thephysical assault and threats against Mr. David Otieno and other CGHRD members inorder to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independenttribunal, and sanction them as provided by the law;

iv. Follow the order of the HighCourt of Kenya by effectively implementing the PBO Act without further delay;

v. Conform with the provisionsof the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the GeneralAssembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, in particular its Articles1 and 12.2; and

vi. Ensure in all circumstances,respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance withinternational human rights standards and international instruments ratified byKenya.

Addresses:

· Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta, President of theRepublic of Kenya, Fax: +254-020-2436, Email: president@statehousekenya.go.ke

· Hon. William Ruto, Deputy-President ofthe Republic of Kenya Email: dp@deputypresident.go.ke

· Hon. Fred Matiangi, Interior &Coordination Ministry
Email: ps.interior@kenya.go.ke


· Mr. Joseph Boinnet, Inspector Generalof Police, Email: nps@nationalpolice.go.ke

· Macharia Njeru, Chairperson,Independent Policing Oversight Authority, Email: macharia.njeru@ipoa.go.ke

· Dr. Regina G. Mwatha, Chairperson,Commission on 
Administrative Justice, Email: info@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 inBrussels, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 340 10 50 / + 32 2 340 10 68. Email:kenbrussels@hotmail.com


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

***

Geneva-Paris,April 3, 2018

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

TheObservatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) wascreated in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). Theobjective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations ofrepression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both membersof ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented byinternational civil society.

To contactthe Observatory, call the emergency line:

· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org

· Tel and faxFIDH + 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


[1] Theother CGHRD members are: Ms. PurityGatwiri, Mr. Antony Kirika, Mr. Richard Williams, Mr. Clement Otiende, Ms. Nancy Inzelo, Ms. Susan Owiti, Mr. NicholasOyuko and Mr. Nelson Maneno.

[2] See the Observatory’s report “2017 elections:broken promises put human rights defenders at risk” published on May 3, 2017.

[3] See the Observatory Press Release issued onNovember 4, 2016.

[4] For example, the NGO Coordination Board canrefuse registration of an NGO applicant if its proposed activities orprocedures are not “in the national interest”, and is not legally required tofurnish the applicant with an explanation for the refusal of registration.Moreover, wide discretion is given to the NGO Board and the Minister, includingregarding the certificate of registration, and the timeframe within which theNGO Coordination Board must act on NGO registration applications. @font-face { font-family: "Arial";}@font-face { font-family: "Cambria Math";}p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0cm 0cm 0.0001pt; font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }p.MsoFootnoteText, li.MsoFootnoteText, div.MsoFootnoteText { margin: 0cm 0cm 0.0001pt 14.15pt; text-indent: -14.15pt; font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }p.MsoHeader, li.MsoHeader, div.MsoHeader { margin: 0cm 0cm 0.0001pt; font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }p.MsoFooter, li.MsoFooter, div.MsoFooter { margin: 0cm 0cm 0.0001pt; font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }span.MsoFootnoteReference { vertical-align: super; }a:visited, span.MsoHyperlinkFollowed { color: purple; text-decoration: underline; }p { margin: 14pt 0cm; font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }span.apple-converted-space { }span.WW-LienInternet { }span.PieddepageCar { }span.En-tteCar { }span.NotedebasdepageCar { }.MsoChpDefault { font-size: 10pt; }div.WordSection1 { }ol { margin-bottom: 0cm; }ul { margin-bottom: 0cm; }

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