On September 1, Kenya’s Supreme Court nullified the August 8 elections, in which the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission had declared President Uhuru Kenyatta the winner with over 54 percent of votes. In compliance with court orders, the IEBC scheduled fresh elections for October 26, the withdrawal of Raila Odinga on October 10 has created uncertainty on whether the elections could take place on the stated date. The elections were marred by serious human rights violations by Kenyan security forces, who used excessive force to break up protests and carry out house-to-house operations particularly in opposition strongholds in Nairobi and western Kenya. At least 12 people were killed by police in western counties of Kisumu and Siaya alone and another 33 in Nairobi during the violence.
Over the past five years, Kenyan authorities have consistently failed to adequately investigate a range of abuses across the country and undermine basic rights to free expression and association. Human rights activists and journalists face numerous obstacles and harassment.
Human rights groups have been concerned since President Uhuru Kenyatta took power in 2013 at the authoritarian direction Kenya’s government has been taking. But the situation has taken an alarming turn in the past week. Three highly repressive measures by the authorities since January 30 should worry us all, including the international community, which has been treating Kenyatta’s administration with kid gloves.
Kenyan media and nongovernment groups that are even mildly critical of the government have come under immense pressure in the last five years.
(Nairobi)– Kenyan police should urgently produce Miguna Miguna, an opposition party lawyer who was arrested in Nairobi on February 2, 2018. He is among three people, including two members of parliament, arrested in a crackdown by Kenyan authorities against those who participated in Raila Odinga’s oath ceremony on January 30. Police have failed to produce Miguna in court in accordance with court orders on both February 2 and February 5, as well as Kenyan law, which requires the accused to be brought to court within 24 hours.
“Kenyan authorities should urgently obey a court order to either release or produce Miguna Miguna in court,” said Otsieno Namwaya, Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The flagrant flouting of court orders undermines the basic concept of the rule of law.”
Odinga, presidential candidate for the leading opposition coalition, NASA, rejected Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory in the country’s presidential election, after a court ordered a rerun of the August 8 election. Miguna and another lawyer, Tom Kajwang, swore in Odinga as “the people’s president” on January 30 on the basis of August 8 election results, which Odinga and his NASA coalition insist they won.
The authorities appear to have been angered by the decision of the media companies to defy President Uhuru Kenyatta’s order to editors at a meeting on January 26 not to cover the planned swearing in of the opposition leader, Raila Odinga, who rejected Kenyatta’s victory on October 26, 2017 in the presidential election. The Kenyan authorities have not given any explanation or legal justification for their attempt to ban media coverage of Odinga.
Kenya: Security Forces Should Respond with Restraint
“With political tensions mounting ahead of the planned swearing-in of opposition candidate Raila Odinga, it is crucial security forces respond to any protests or violence with restraint and respect for rights,” said Otsieno Namwaya, Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Everyone should respect and uphold rights enshrined in the constitution and international law, especially the right to life.”
Kenya: Sexual Violence Marred Elections
(Nairobi) – Widespread sexual violence marred Kenya’s 2017 elections, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The Kenyan government should urgently take steps to protect women and girls, as well as men and boys, from sexual violence.
(Nairobi) – Kenyan authorities should condemn recent violence, rein in any police abuses, and investigate scores of killings, most of them by police, during the prolonged electoral period, Human Rights Watch said today.
A series of protests and clashes between police and opposition supporters began on November 17, 2017, at the Nairobi airport while supporters of the opposition leader Raila Odinga escorted him to the town center. Protests and clashes continued in opposition strongholds in Nairobi and western Kenya following the Supreme Court decision on November 20 affirming President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election.