Statement on Extra-Judicial Killings and Enforced Disappearances to the 49th Ordinary Session of the ACHPR

The Kenyan Section of the International Commission of Jurists: is a registered non-governmental organization that seeks to protect human rights, and promote the rule of law and democracy in Kenya and across Africa through the application of legal expertise and international best practices.

Independent Medical Legal Unit is a registered non-governmental organization that seeks to promote the rights of torture victims and protect all persons in Kenya from all forms of torture by advocating for legal and policy reforms, monitoring government’s adherence to human rights rehabilitating victims of torture, forensic investigations and documentation of torture cases and capacity building of key stake holders.

The Republic of Kenya is a country in East Africa. Lying along the Indian Ocean to its southeast and at the equator, it is bordered by Somalia to the northeast, Ethiopia to the north, Sudan to the northwest, Uganda to the west and Tanzania to the south. Kenya is a country of 47 counties each with its own government semi-autonomous to the central government in the capital, Nairobi.

The Kenyan Section of International Commission of Jurists and the Independent Medico Legal Unit condemns the Human Rights Violations perpetrated by the State security agents in Kenya.

We have noted with concern the rise of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings in Kenya; and wish to petition the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights on behalf of our clients, the aggrieved families and victims of gross human rights violations perpetrated by the police. We continue to receive evidence of the existence of a police extortion rings within special crime prevention units operating in Nairobi and Central Province within the Kenyan Republic that has given rise to the upsurge of extra-judicial killings, torture and forced disappearance of innocent civilians in Kenya.

That these police units are known to abduct innocent civilians and extract ‘protection fees’ from them using threats of execution. Some detainees are even required to ask their friends or relatives to send money to their phones (through mobile phone money transfers system) in order to secure their release. They are also asked to send regular amounts of money to specific police officers from the unit to avoid being arrested, evidence of which we have obtained.

That these police units arbitrarily arrest civilians and detain them in unconventional places, at undisclosed destinations and travel in unmarked vehicles whose number plates they change frequently, acts that are clearly illegal.

That efforts by various human rights organization to highlight and combat with these violations by the police unit have been met with the same wrath that their clients have been exposed to given that the said police officers openly intimidate human rights defenders by threats and actual aggression.

THAT notwithstanding the lodging of formal complaints to various police stations by families of the deceased, injured and missing persons and numerous calls for investigation and arrest of the perpetrators, no inquests and prosecutions have been initiated in compliance of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 75, Laws of Kenya).

That despite formal complaints by human rights organizations to his office, the Commissioner of Police has refused, failed and/or neglected to take action against the perpetrators and instead the police spokesperson, has made press statements in been a blanket defense of the Kenya Police Service.

That these violations have been previously investigated and documented by the Kenyan National Commission of Human Rights in a report titled “ The Cry of Blood” which is an account of at least 500 cases of enforced disappearances, torture and extra judicial killings within this context. Notwithstanding bringing this report to the attention of the Attorney General and The Commissioner of the police no action has been taken.

That by such inaction, not only is the Commissioner of Police failing to safeguard the right to life and the absolute prohibition of torture guaranteed under Articles 25, 26 and 29 of the Kenyan Constitution and further is in disregard of Kenya’s  international obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Convention Against Torture and African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights all ratified by Kenya and which form part of the laws of Kenya in accordance with Article 2 of the Constitution.

THAT the said inaction is also a furtherance of non-implementation of specific recommendations by the United Nations on Kenya’s human rights situation, and in particular, the concluding observations of the United Nations Committee Against Torture (Nov 2008) where in the matter of Extra judicial killings and enforced disappearances the Committee  where the Committee urged the State party (Kenya) to conduct immediate, prompt and impartial investigations into the serious allegations and ensure that perpetrators are prosecuted and punished with penalties appropriate to the grave nature of their acts as required by the Convention. The Committee further urged the State Party to take all possible steps to prevent acts such as the alleged extra judicial killings and enforced disappearances”

Following a fact finding mission by the United Nation Special Rapporteur on extra judicial, arbitrary or summary executions Professor Philip Alston on the 16th – 25th February 2009 the Special Rapporteur received documented  systematic widespread and carefully planned extra judicial executions by the Kenyan police as contained in his report to the  UN Human Rights Council in June 2009.

To date ,The perpetrators  are yet to be held accountable for this human rights violations despite the recommendations made in this report.

That it is unacceptable that such flagrant and widespread human rights violations and extortion be allowed in contravention of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and the Kenyan Constitution.

We therefore recommend that

i)     The Commission carry out a fact finding mission be sent to Kenya to investigate the continued increase of extra judicial killings and uphold the sanctity of the right to  life.

ii)   That the Commission urge the Kenyan Government to respect its domestic and international obligations and put into place measures to prevent further extra judicial killings such as prompt and independent investigation of complaints and the prosecution of persons found responsibility and the compensation of victims and families of victims whose rights were infringed as a result of the extra judicial activities of the police.

In conclusion we call for the unconditional release of the Kenyan Human Rights Defender  Al Amin Kimathi  Coordinator Muslims Human Rights Forum arrested and illegally detained and maliciously prosecuted on terrorism related charges following his documentation of cases on Rendition of Terror Suspects.

Presented to the African Commission in April 2011.

Resolution on the Situation of Human Rights in Djibouti

NGO Forum of participation meeting in Banjul (Gambia), from 25 to 27 April 2011 at the occasion of the 49th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights,

Considering the result of the presidential elections held in April 8 2011, vitiated by the failure of the participation of opposition parties and this steadily since 2003;

Condemning violations of human rights repeatedly against civilians, members of opposition parties, independent trade unionists, journalists and human rights defenders by the Djiboutian authorities, including acts of torture, of degrading and inhuman treatment, as well as arrests and arbitrary detentions, and judicial harassment;

Condemning the violent repression by the Djiboutian authorities of peaceful demonstrations that took place in February and March 2011 that have caused several deaths by gunfire, dozens injured, during which dozens of demonstrators were arrested;

Deeply concerned about the repeated arrests of members and leaders of opposition parties and human rights defenders, including Mr. Jean-Paul Noel Abdi, President of the League Djiboutian Human Rights (LDDH) and harassment judiciary against him, and the continued detention of Farah Abadid Heldid, LDDH member  as well as 71 political prisoners;

Considering the OAU Declaration on Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa AHG/Decl.1 (XXXVIII) and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Good Governance signed by the Republic of Djibouti in June 15, 2007;

Recalling the Resolution on elections in Africa adopted at the 44th and 47th sessions of the ACHPR in which the Commission is “deeply concerned by the deteriorating situation of human rights in some African countries before, during and after election periods” and calls on states to “ensure protection before, during and after the elections, journalists, human rights observers and supervisors of election intimidation and other abuses of human rights“;

Noting the joint declaration of international missions observing presidential election of April 8 2011 in  the Republic of Djibouti;

Recalling the resolution – ACHPR/Res.61 (XXXII) 02 (2002) –  adopted in October 2002 by the Commission  establishing Guidelines and Measures for prohibition and prevention Torture and Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Africa (Guidelines Robben Island);

Considering articles 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 11 of the African Charter on Human Rights and Peoples’ Rights;

The NGO Forum of participation meeting in Banjul (Gambia) from 25 to 27 April 2011 on the occasion of the 49th Ordinary Session of the ACHPR asks the Commission to adopt a resolution:

Condemning the violations of human rights perpetrated in Djibouti against civilian populations;

Calling on the authorities of Djibouti to:

1.      Fully respect the right to life and physical and moral integrity, freedom of expression and opinion, and freedom to choose their political representatives in accordance with the provisions of the African Charter on Human Rights and Peoples’ Rights;

2.      Release all prisoners of conscience and human rights defenders, Farah Abadid Heldid, or if necessary, to prosecute them on fair trial and in a timely manner;

3.      Ratify the African Charter on Democracy, elections and good governance, ensuring the holding of multiparty, free, democratic and transparent elections in the future.

 

Done in Banjul, April 27th, 2011

Opening Statement by Hon Abdoulie Bojang at the NGO Forum of the 49th Ordinary Session of the ACHPR

Forum on the Participation of NGOs in the 49th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and 23rd African Human Rights Book Fair, 25th – 27th April 2011, Kairaba Beach Hotel, The Gambia

Your Excellencies,

Honourable Ministers,

Chair and Commissioners of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights,

Executive Director of the African Centre for Democracy and Human Right Studies,

Members of the Steering Committee of the NGOs Forum,

Representatives of Civil Society Organisations,

Resource Persons and Participants of the Forum on the Participation of NGOs in the 49th Ordinary Session of the African Commission and 23rd African Human Rights Book Fair,

Member of the Press,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

All other protocols respectfully observed.

I feel most honoured to be invited by the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to deliver the keynote address at the Forum on the Participation of NGOs in the 49th Ordinary Session of the African Commission and 23rd African Human Rights Book Fair.

Please allow me to convey, the compliments of the Government and people of The Gambia, to you, representatives of NGOs working in Africa and beyond. I welcome you all to the Smiling Coast of The Gambia and hope you have recovered from the fatigue associated with travelling within our dear continent.

The Government of The Gambia recognises and appreciates the efforts of the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies, in facilitating this Forum, which will enable NGOs to fully participate in the work of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. As you already know African Commission is mandated to oversee the implementation and interpretation of the rights and duties enshrined in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Over the years, NGOs have become indispensable being involved in setting international human rights standards and documenting human rights violations. They have also been involved in advocacy and lobbying initiatives for the effective implementation of the provisions enshrined in human rights instruments signed and ratified by States.

While some countries on the continent register progress in terms of improving democracy and human rights situation, many more continue to stray far away from this trend.  Human rights violations continue to take place on a daily basis. I am happy to know that the situation in some of these countries will be discussed by this august gathering.

We in Parliament as elective representatives of the people across Africa, are very appreciative of the work and lofty goals and ideals of the Banjul – based AU organisations.

We are aware that you are yet to provide effective remedy to all those alleged violations taking place across the continent. A host of reasons account for this, notable among which is the need for us to revisit the Protocol establishing the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights; thus to enable it move from its current status of advisory, consultative and persuasive mandate, to a more robust, proactive and binding mandate.

Similarly, most of us here in Parliament continue to perceive the Commission as a reluctant union of State actors which now requires the unreserved inclusion and participation of the citizenry, civil society and representatives of the people. I would, therefore like to urge both the African Commission and the African Centre to work together to come up with concrete proposals and recommendations on the way forward.

A Forum of this nature is very important as both Government and NGOs are provided with the opportunity to discuss issues of common interest. It does create the possibility of engaging all pertinent stakeholders in issues affecting their constituents, thereby encouraging greater understanding and support among stakeholders.

Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

as you may all know, the Forum is an advocacy tool adopted by the African Centre to promote networking among Human Rights NGOs in Africa and beyond. The main aim of the NGOs Forum is to foster closer collaboration among NGOs and with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights for the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights in Africa.  The African Commission is indeed very important in the work of human rights in Africa as the main body mandated to promote, protect and interpret the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the main regional human rights instrument on the continent.

Furthermore, I understand from the agenda that there will be series of panel discussions, among them on ‘one hundred years of women’s advocacy’, ‘rights of persons with disabilities in Africa’, ‘Torture’, ‘enforced disappearances’, ‘HIV/AIDS and human rights’, ‘Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity’, ‘Elections in Africa’, amongst others. The panel should come up with strategies on how to better the situation of the issues discussed.

The issue of elections is particularly important at this time as some countries in Africa have conducted some form of elections in the first quarter of 2011. A lot more countries will conduct elections in the course of 2011 which could be Presidential, Parliamentary, Legislative, or Referendum. The Gambia is one of such of such countries where Presidential elections are to be conducted in November this year.

Ladies and gentlemen,

it would interest you at this point to know that the National Assembly of The Gambia last month ratified the Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) having signed it in October, 2009.  The Convention, commonly known as the Kampala Convention is the first legally binding regional instrument in the world to impose the obligation of protection and assistance of IDPs on States.

The Convention applies to displacement caused by a wide range of causes – from conflict and human rights violations to natural or man-made disaster and development projects. It further provides standards for the protection of people from arbitrary displacement, the protection of IDPs while they are displaced and durable solutions to their displacement.

The onus now lies on both State and non-State Actors in The Gambia to move a step further to domestication and subsequent implementation of the Convention for the realisation of the rights of IDPs.

I am sure this Forum, like the previous ones, would open the platform for fruitful deliberations, resulting in the formulation of laudable strategies. This will push the continent a step forward in the process of ensuring the respect to human dignity, human rights and the democratisation process in our respective countries in Africa.

Distinguished guest, ladies and gentlemen,

in conclusion, I do recognise that you have a very tight schedule but I would wish to encourage you to make time to savour and enjoy the hospitality of this small and peaceful country, The Gambia, commonly known as the ‘Smiling Coast of Africa’.

I would wish to encourage the African Centre to share with us and other relevant stakeholders the important outcomes of this Forum. Furthermore, I would like to reiterate the commitment of the Government of The Gambia to partner with you and the NGO community in Africa as you strife for the promotion and protection of human rights.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

it is now my singular honour and pleasure to declare open the Forum on the Participation of NGOs in the 49th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and 23rd African Human Rights Book Fair officially opened.

 

I thank you all for your kind attention and wish you fruitful deliberations.

Resolution on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in Burundi

The Forum for the Participation of NGOs at the 49th African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Session, meeting in Banjul (The Gambia), from 25 to 27 April 2011,

Condemning the assassination on the night of 8 to 9 April 2009 of Ernest Manirumva, former vice-president of the Observatory for the Fight against Corruption and Economic Embezzlement (OLUCOME) and deploring that due to delays in judicial proceedings, more than two years later, the exact circumstances of the murder are yet to be revealed;

Condemning the multiple acts of intimidation and other forms of pressure from the authorities in Burundi against representatives of civil society calling for full light to be shed on the exact circumstances of the murder of Ernest Manirumva especially the repeated acts of intimidation against Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, president of the Association for the Protection of Human Rights and Detained Persons (APRODH), Pacifique Nininahazwe, managing director of Forum for the Strengthening of Civil Society (FORSC), Gabriel Rufyiri, president of OLUCOME, and his family and Irambona Claver, a member of OLUCOME;

Deploring the violent dispersal, on April 8 2011, of a peaceful march held in remembrance of Ernest Manirumva’s assassination held in Bujumbura by several NGOs and the subsequent arrest by the police, of Gabriel Rufyiri and Irambona Claver;

Strongly condemning the indictment issued on April 13 2011, by the Deputy Prosecutor of Bujumbura, seeking the life sentence against journalist Jean-Claude Kavumbagu, editor of the online newspaper NetPress, imprisoned since 17 July 2010 for publishing an article questioning the ability of the Burundian security forces to prevent an attack on Somali Islamist group Al Shabab;

Recalling that several other journalists in Burundi, including Elyse Ngabire and Dieudonné Hakizimana of the newspaper Iwacu and Thierry Ndayishimiye of the newspaper Arc-en-ciel have been arrested and temporarily detained for their journalistic activities;

Regretting the expulsion in June 2010 of the representative of Human Rights Watch, in response to the publication of a report on the pre-election political violence;

Recalling the resolutions ACHPR/Res.69 (XXXV) 04, ACHPR (XXXXI) 06 and ACHPR/Res.119 (XXXXII) 07 on protection and human rights defenders of human rights in Africa;

The Forum for the Participation of NGOs at the 49th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights request the ACHPR to consider adopting at this 49th Session a resolution:

Condemning acts of threats and harassment currently targeting human rights defenders  in defiance of the provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights;

Calling on the Judiciary in Burundi to determine, as soon as possible, the truth about the exact circumstances of the murder of Ernest Manirumva and try those suspected of involvement in his murder;

Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of journalist Jean-Claude Kavumbagu;

Urging the Burundian authorities to carry out transparent and independent investigations into all cases of violations against human rights defenders, and bring offenders to trial before independent courts;

Deciding to send, in accordance with its mandate, a mission to promote human rights in Burundi, in order to meet the authorities, political parties of the opposition, civil society organizations and representatives of the international community and address the concerns and recommendations contained in this resolution.