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Human Rights Developments

On December 29, 1992, Kenya held its first genuinely multiparty elections since independence. Incumbent President Daniel arap Moi was reelected, and the Kenya African National Union (KANU), the ruling party since independence in 1963, returned as the largest party to the National Assembly. Although the political system was opened up to some extent by the elections, Kenya's government remained intolerant of criticism. Attacks on opposition politicians and on journalists, use of excessive force by police in the control of demonstrations, and the enforcement of repressive legislation remained serious concerns in Kenya in 1993. The politically motivated ethnic violence that had convulsed large areas of rural Kenya during 1992 returned intermittently during the first half of 1993, and erupted with renewed force towards the end of the year, amid continuing allegations of government involvement. As corruption scandals shook the government, Kenya's economy continued to decline.

Observers from Kenya and abroad concluded that, although there were significant irregularities in the conduct of the elections, the results substantially reflected the will of the Kenyan people. The reelection of President Moi and KANU, both undoubtedly unpopular after so long in power, owed much to the division of the original main opposition party, the Forum forthe Restoration of Democracy (FORD), into two parties, FORD-Kenya and FORD-Asili, joined by a breakaway group from KANU, the Democratic Party. Moi himself received only 36 percent of the vote. KANU nevertheless secured one hundred of the 188 seats being contested in the National Assembly. Seven parties altogether were represented in the new parliament. Divisions within the opposition increased throughout the year: in September, FORD-Kenya split once more, as well-known lawyer Gitobu Imanyara was fired as secretary-general of the party, in a conflict with Raila Odinga, the son of the party's leader Oginga Odinga; Vice-Chair Paul Muite and several others resigned from party offices in protest.

On January 27, 1993 the new parliament was suspended, legally, by President Moi one day after it was convened; it reopened only in March. Although debate on controversial government policies did occur, the opposition was frustrated by the bias of the speaker in favor of the government, and no significant reforms were introduced through parliament during the year. Despite plans announced in June by Attorney General Amos Wako to look into the need for law reform, repressive legislation such as the Preservation of Public Security Act, the Public Order Act, the Societies Act, the Nongovernmental Organization Coordination Act, the Chiefs' Authorities Act and the Local Authorities Act remained in force and in use. More positively, the much-vilified British expatriate chief justice, Alan Hancox, was replaced in March by Ghanaian judge Fred Apaloo, who indicated that he would be more supportive of an independent judiciary.

The most disturbing trend of 1993 was the continuation of political violence in rural Kenya. Although many predicted that the so-called tribal clashes that erupted at the end of 1991 and became fiercer as the 1992 election campaign progressed would cease once elections were held, this was not the case. In late 1993, Africa Watch estimated that 1,500 Kenyans had been killed and 300,000 internally displaced since the clashes began. During 1993, conflict was concentrated in Rift Valley Province, and pitted members of Moi's ethnic group, the Kalenjin, against Kenya's majority community, the Kikuyu. Allegations of government promotion of this violence, verified by the report of a parliamentary committee in 1992, continued to be made in 1993.

The Kenyan government failed to take adequate measures to stop the violence. Although arrests were made, those arrested were often released without charge, or charges were not vigorously pursued. Strong action was taken in response to inflammatory statements by opposition figures, but similar comments made by ministers were ignored. In September, the government declared several districts to be "security operation zones" where emergency-type laws would apply. Regulations promulgated under the Preservation of Public Security Act also restricted access to these zones. Government officials denied later reports that violence was still continuing despite these measures. A challenge to the constitutionality of the regulations was filed in court.

The bulk of relief to the victims of the violence was carried out by church groups, principally the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) and the Catholic Church. Church members engaged in relief efforts were subject to official harassment for their efforts. Others attempting to draw attention to the political violence were also attacked. Wangari Maathai, the well-known environmental activist, attempted on three occasions in February and March to hold a meeting for clash victims in Nakuru, which were all prevented by police action. On February 25, John Makanga, a pharmacist associated with Professor Maathai was arrested, assaulted, detained for two weeks, and charged with sedition for distributing leaflets accusing the government of responsibility for the violence. In what was widely presumed to be officially-sponsored harassment, an exhibition of photographs depicting victims of the clashes-organized by Maathai at the U.N.'s Vienna conference on human rights-was stolen by a group of Maasai who had been taken to the conference by a minister as representatives of Kenya's "indigenous" peoples.

Political violence also erupted in Kenya's coastal cities, where the Islamic Party of Kenya (IPK), denied permission to register as a party for the elections, clashed both with police and with a rival party, the United Muslims of Africa. In May, the leader of the IPK, Sheikh Khalid Balala, was arrested and charged for threatening to kill KANU leaders. Released on bail, amid unprecedented security precautions, he was re-arrested five days later. In September, Mombasa saw renewed rioting as Muslims protested the visit of President Moi to the city.

Freedom of political expression and assembly was threatened by police action on numerous occasions in 1993. In January, members of the securitypolice attempted to abduct Paul Muite of FORD-Kenya from his office. In April, police violently dispersed a peaceful demonstration in Nairobi called to protest high food prices and the deteriorating economy. FORD-Kenya leader Raila Odinga was arrested and charged with joining an illegal procession. One month later, Odinga was again arrested, with five other opposition parliamentarians, while campaigning for a by-election in the western town of Kisii. In May, the leader of the Central Organization of Trade Unions, Joseph Mugalla, was arrested and charged with inciting workers to break the law, by calling for a general strike. At the opening of parliament in March, a band of armed Maasai warriors, acknowledged to have been organized by government ministers, attacked opposition demonstrators outside parliament; some weeks later, police charged a crowd which was outside parliament heckling cabinet ministers. In June, riot police broke up a rally held by Martin Shikuku, deputy leader of FORD-Asili. Shikuku and a colleague were arrested and held overnight, then released without charge. In August, a peaceful demonstration in the coastal tourist town of Lamu turned into a riot when police tried to disperse it.

Although increased press freedom did allow greater scrutiny of government activity following the election-revealing, for example, official involvement in the "Goldenberg" corruption scandal-the independent press most critical of the government remained under threat in 1993. Numerous issues of Finance and Society magazines were confiscated throughout the year, either before distribution or from street vendors in Nairobi. The editor of Finance, Njehu Gatabaki, was detained for twenty-three days in February, briefly detained again in May, and held for three days in June after being arrested as he was about to leave Nairobi to attend the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna, where he was to speak on government attacks on the press. On April 30, armed uniformed police went to the premises of Fotoform Limited, the printers of both Society and Finance, and immobilized the printing machines by taking away essential components. Publication of both magazines was halted for several weeks.

Other publications were also objects of harassment. On February 13 and 14, police confiscated copies of Watchman, a church magazine, and of People, a new weekly newspaper financed by Kenneth Matiba, leader of FORD-Asili. On February 16, police arrested Rev. Jamlick Miano, the editor of Watchman, and another journalist with the magazine. They were charged with sedition and held for three weeks before being released on bail. These charges were dropped on June 28. In March the Kenya Television Network local news, which had established a standard of reporting far superior to the propaganda broadcast by the government-run Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, was taken off the air, after broadcasting statements by Wangari Maathai and Kenneth Matiba criticizing the government for its role in the clashes.

The situation in Kenya's North East province, along the border with Somalia, remained extremely insecure. Bandits known as shiftas operated throughout the region, preying on local residents, refugees and relief workers. Refugee camps housing Somalis fleeing civil war were especially unsafe, and women in particular were at risk of rape. In some cases these rapes involved Kenyan security forces. Efforts by the Kenyan police to control the situation led to armed clashes in which several tens of bandits were killed, in addition to numbers of police.

The Right to Monitor

The government showed itself to be particularly sensitive to any attempt to report on or investigate the Rift Valley clashes. Journalists working in the areas and activists attempting to take action were repeatedly harassed. Although representatives of Africa Watch toured the clash areas without official obstruction in June and July, more high-profile visits provoked a strong reaction. The declaration of security zones in the Rift Valley, with no access for any outsiders, followed wide publicity of visits to the clash areas made in August by Kerry Kennedy Cuomo of the R.F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights and by Lord David Ennals, on behalf of the British Refugee Council. The Kenyan government had, however, given visas to representatives of the RFK Center after many rejected requests in previous years.

In early September, after the declaration of security zones, a visiting group of Dutch members of parliament was barred from visiting the clash areas. Shortly thereafter, thirteen opposition MPs were arrested as they tried to travel to Molo, one of the worst areas. Bedan Mbugua, editor of People, was later arrested together with two ministers of the Presbyterian church, as theywere traveling towards Molo. On September 13, they were charged with organizing an unlawful public procession and obstructing the police and released on bail.

The partial relaxation of political repression that accompanied the election campaign allowed the operation of a handful of new organizations examining human rights, including the Kenya Human Rights Commission and the Legal Education and Aid Program (LEAP). In June 1993, the creation of another new human rights organization was announced. The National Democratic and Human Rights Organization (NDEHURIO), led by former parliamentarian Kiogi wa Wamwere and lawyer Mirugi Kariuki (both ex-political prisoners), stated that its principal purpose was to stop torture and mistreatment of detainees in Kenya. Wamwere and Kariuki and five others were arrested in September as they were traveling in one of the clash areas, after it had been declared a security zone, and charged with entering into a prohibited area and being in possession of a firearm. Wamwere and Kariuki were held in custody for more than a month before finally being released on bail. In November, Wamwere was rearrested and charged with stealing guns that had been raided from a police station in the Rift Valley area.

U.S. Policy

Ambassador Smith Hempstone, regarded as a hero by many Kenyans for his leadership of the international pressure on President Moi to hold elections, resigned from his position, as is customary, at the end of the Bush administration. Aurelia Brazeal, a career diplomat previously ambassador to Micronesia, was finally confirmed as Hempstone's replacement in August, and took up her position in September. U.S. policy towards Kenya in 1993 was conducted in a somewhat more restrained style than Kenyans had become used to.

Following the elections, the Kenyan government lobbied intensively for the restoration of bilateral and multilateral aid, suspended in November 1991 in protest at human rights abuses and economic mismanagement. Since that date, all U.S. aid had been channeled through nongovernmental organizations. However, in September 1993, the State Department announced the release of $3.73 million of pipeline money in military assistance to assist the Kenyan government in providing security along the border with Somalia. The department issued a public statement that "[t]he decision to release these funds is based solely on the need to respond to an extraordinary security threat. The release does not constitute satisfaction with the human rights situation in Kenya, a matter which remains of deep and fundamental concern to the United States."

Several statements were also issued throughout the year, by the department or by the embassy in Nairobi, protesting actions taken by the government against freedom of expression. Nevertheless, in contrast to the critical stand previously taken by Ambassador Hempstone, the U.S. failed to take a strong position holding the Kenyan government responsible for the violence in the Rift Valley province. In September, the only statement issued on the violence publicly welcomed the government's decision to declare security zones, showing unwarranted faith in the good behavior of the security forces in these circumstances. The statement was conditioned only by the "hope that the increased security measures will be accompanied by measures to allow access to the affected areas by the press and political representatives of all concerned."

The Moi government had received extensive U.S. military aid in previous years. That aid largely ended during the Bush administration as a response to Kenyan human rights abuses and President Moi's suppression of democracy. The Clinton administration requested $600,000 in military training for fiscal year 1994. Military sales to Kenya continued, with an estimated $343,000 in commercial sales estimated in fiscal year 1993, and $172,000 expected in fiscal year 1994. The U.S. continued to provide approximately $18 million in development assistance to Kenya.

In March, the Kenyan government announced that it was abandoning the implementation of an International Monetary Fund (IMF) structural adjustment policy involving liberalization of prices and devaluation of the Kenyan shilling. The policies were reinstated the following month. In April, despite this suspension of cooperation with the IMF, the World Bank released $85 million, citing some economic progress. However, a second tranche of that money was not released in July. Denmark cut its aid to Kenya in August, on the grounds of corruption and the inability to end the rural clashes, but Japan, Kenya's largest donor, announced in October that it was resuming balance of payments support. The consultative group of bilateral donors metat the end of November to decide whether the remainder of suspended aid would be restored.

The Work of Africa Watch

A joint Africa Watch/HRW Women's Rights Project newsletter on the rape of Somali refugees in Kenya was published on October 4, in response to the critical situation along the border in north-eastern Kenya. In November, a report on the rural violence in Rift Valley Province was published, to coincide with the important meeting of the Paris Club group of donors to decide whether to resume aid to Kenya. A number of letters were sent to President Moi protesting the arrest and detention of journalists and human rights activists and urging respect for freedom of speech.

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