Friday, May 16, 2008

Week's highlights - Fri 5/16/2008

Two stories from BBC, followed by links from Google News:

Charges urged for Kenya 'torture' - BBC

Kenya's defence minister and army chiefs should face prosecution over the alleged torture of civilians, the state-funded human rights body says.

The Kenya National Commission for Human Rights (KNCHR) says medical reports back up complaints of torture.

The military was deployed to the Mt Elgon area in March, in a crackdown on the Sabaot Land Defence Force (SLDF).

The government denied the allegations, in turn accusing the militia of committing atrocities.

The SLDF says it is fighting for ancestral land belonging to the Sabaot community but has been accused of killing members of rival ethnic groups.

The KNCHR said the minister, Mohammed Yusuf Haji, and army commanders should be held accountable for human rights violations.

"It is important that the government is held accountable where acts of gross violations including torture, murder etc are conducted, that people at the top are accountable in a certain way," KNCHR commissioner Omar Hassan Omar told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

He said they had spoken to residents of Mt Elgon who claimed to have been taken to military camps and subjected to degrading and inhumane forms of torture.

"We tied it up with medical reports which confirmed that patterns of torture did take place," Mr Omar said.

KNCHR also called for the prosecution of the Sabaot militia, whose members have been accused of murder and other human rights violations.

Government spokesman Alfred Mutua said the SLDF was guilty of human rights violations.

"This criminal group had been carrying out brutal crimes against humanity and endangering lives," he said.

The statement said the militia were guilty of mutilation, torture, sexual crimes and recruitment of child soldiers.

But Mr Omar said the brutality of the militia could not excuse the actions of the Kenyan army.

"The government is not a militia, it has different standards. It is a conventional army, and a conventional army is held to higher standards of accountability," he said.

The rights body also urged the UN to withdraw Kenyan troops from its peacekeeping missions.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2008/05/16 08:53:42 GMT© BBC MMVIII

Kenya cabinet holds first session - BBC

Kenya's president has urged members of the cabinet to focus on implementing crucial government programmes, during the government's first formal session.

President Mwai Kibaki chaired the meeting of the power-sharing body in Nairobi, amid tensions that threaten to weaken the coalition.

The coalition government was key to solving Kenya's post-election violence.

Clashes after last December's elections left some 1,500 people dead and 600,000 homeless around the country.

President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga agreed to share power in February after negotiations led by former UN head Kofi Annan.

"We must have the drive to succeed in serving our country and Kenyans at large, there is much expectation from the Kenyan people and we must deliver on the promises we made," President Kibaki said, urging the ministers not to be distracted by other issues.

The cabinet resolved to make the country's food security its top priority, by increasing the country's food reserves and increasing food production, according to a statement from President Kibaki's office.

The ongoing programme to resettle thousands of internally displaced persons was another item on the meeting's agenda.

The government will continue to assist those who return to their homes as they rebuild their lives, the ministers resolved.

The cabinet also agreed on the formation of five cabinet committees:

  • national security
  • finance administration and planning
  • infrastructure
  • services
  • production.

The president will head the national security committee, while Prime Minister Odinga will chair the others.

The BBC's Josphat Makori in Nairobi says that since their appointment in April, ministers from the coalition partners, the president's Party of National Unity (PNU) and Mr Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), have been divided on key issues.

The coalition also faces a growing challenge from a group of lawmakers who want to form an opposition in parliament.
The MPs - from both the ODM and PNU - say they want to scrutinise the government's performance.

Mr Odinga has criticised the idea, saying it would undermine the principle of the coalition government.

But some ODM leaders have voiced their disagreement with the prime minister on the issue, leading to speculation that this could lead to a split within the party.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2008/05/15 15:19:34 GMT© BBC MMVIII

Google News links:

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Daily Nation
Kenya: Claims of Torture By Army And Militia, As Food Shortages ..., Washington - 3 hours ago
The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) has called for an investigation into allegations of torture committed by security forces deployed in ...

Charges urged for Kenya 'torture' BBC News

Charge top security men over torture, demands rights team Daily Nation

KNCHR: Army killed 600 in Mt Elgon Standard (Pressemitteilung) - AFP

all 12 news articles »

Kenya intimidating refugees out of camp-aid group
Reuters South Africa, South Africa - 5 hours ago...
intimidation to force displaced people to leave a refugee camp in western Kenya, the medical aid agency Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said on Friday. ...
ABC News

'Profit Culture' Mars Kenya Adoptions
ABC News - 4 hours ago
By DANA HUGHES Two years ago, Ron and Mary Nelson and their four children traveled from Indiana to Nairobi, Kenya, to volunteer at an orphanage for three ...

Kenya Airways to resume flights to Paris
International Herald Tribune, France - 5 hours ago
AP NAIROBI, Kenya: Kenya Airways says it will resume flights to Paris next month after a break of more than three months caused by postelection violence. ...

Kenya steps up tourism marketing abroad
Daily Nation, Kenya - 8 hours ago
Mr Balala, who spoke at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport after a 10-day tour of Europe, said that the challenge lay in re-branding Kenya as a tourist ...

Kenya: Government Under Siege as They Forcefully Resettle IDPs, Washington - 7 hours ago
When the Government of Kenya began resettling more than 10000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) on Monday, thousands of them who have been camping at the ...

Government Under Siege as They Forcefully Eesettle IDPs
Fahamu (Oxford)
15 May 2008 Posted to the web 16 May 2008
By Joachim Omolo Ouko

When the Government of Kenya began resettling more than 10,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) on Monday, thousands of them who have been camping at the Nakuru Agricultural Society of Kenya (ASK) show ground, some displaced persons said the Government should have reconciled them with the neighbouring communities first instead of rushing to resettle them.

Mzee Ibrahim Githatwa, 76, was among the IDPs who vowed never to go back to Keringet in Kuresoi where he had lived since the 1942 but was forcefully told to leave the premises. This is where he left when their houses were burnt in January with all the properties destroyed.

Mzee Githatwa is not only a widower, but also a father of 13 children some of whom are still depending on him. This is the man who has suffered a great deal under Moi regime and now Kibaki. During Moi he lost seven houses in the 1992 ethnic violence. Even after he could manage, together with some of his children to built five houses, they again got burnt down in January during the pos-election violence.

Even 13 farms where some of them are going to be resettled which include Sirikwa, Kiambogo, Githirika, Muthenji, Nyota, Kangawa and Lagwenda, Sasumua, Willa, Muchorwe, Karirikania, Kadonye and Nyaruai have history of violence every five years when they have general elections.

These are some of the areas that have been the scene of periodic violence since 1992. Since then fighting has not only intensified during general election years - held in 1992, 1997, 2002 and 2007 - and in 2005, when the national referendum on the country's constitution was held, but also leading to loss of properties worth million of shillings, deaths and turmoils.

The lad dispute around these areas, especially in Molo and Kuresoi is between the Kalenjin, Kikuyu and Kisii - against one another. Not forgetting that last year's violence, in the run up to the 27 December elections intensified in affecting the Kuresoi divisions Keringet, Kuresoi, Kamara and Olenguruone as opposed to other years.

The government is forcing them back when high-ranking politicians who have been consistently implicated in organizing political violence since the 1990s have never been brought to book and continue to operate with impunity.

According to the annexes to the Ndung'u land dispute report released in 2004 the families of former presidents Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel arap Moi feature prominently in the list of prominent high ranking politicians and people who matter in Kenya government as those who have grabbed public land that was recommended for repossession.

Mr Moi and five of his children, Mzee Kenyatta's widow Mama Ngina and scores of MPs, top civil servants, military officers, High Court judges and former Cabinet ministers featured in the report now and then.

Then Lands and Housing minister Amos Kimunya who releasing the report on grabbed land compiled by the Paul Ndung'u Committee without the names, can tell a lot why the issue of lad in Kenya will always remain a big problem even after forcing the displaced to go back to their disputed lands.

The report contained in the two massive volumes is measuring 10 centimetres, of which at 2,017 pages are thicker than two telephone directories. The reports were released by the Government Printer and since then no action has been taken by the government to repossess the lands.

If the government were to take action it would mean that names of all those who have been irregularly allocated public land in urban areas, settlement schemes, forests and reserves, with Moi alone owning 937 hectare farm in Narok hived off Trans Mara Forest be repossessed, then this would at least solve some of the land problems in the country.

According to the report, among President Moi's children who were illegally allocated land includes former Baringo Central MP Mr Gideon Moi and his wife Zahra, Raymond Kiprotich, Doris Choge and Jonathan Toroitich.

The problem would even be more resolved if the government were to go by the Ndungu recommendation that allocation of various parcels to Mama Ngina Kenyatta be revoked. It includes 38 hectares hived off the Kikuyu Escarpment Forest in Kiambu District in 1965, including another 36 hectares in Thika District from the same Kikuyu Escarpment forest allocated to her in 1980 for farming, which Ndungu also recommended to be reclaimed, as well as another 24 hectare parcel allocated in 1993.

Among the cabinet ministers, judges and top soldiers listed to be among beneficiaries of settlement schemes carved out of Agricultural Development Corporation farms include then minister of State William ole Ntimama (now ODM minister of Heritage), assistant minister Kipkalya Kones (now ODM minister for Roads), Court of Appeal Judge Emmanuel O'Kubasu and deputy chief of general staff, Lt Gen Nick Leshan.

Mr Ntimama who claims to be the spokesman of the Maasai communities, also human right activists, was allocated 34 acres of Moi Ndabi Farm where Mr Leshan got 233 acres. Mr Kones got 145 acres in the Agricultural Development Corporation Sirikwa scheme where the average allocations were five acres, according to the report. While Mr Justice O'Kubasu got 40 acres of ADC Jabali also in Nakuru, his land in the ADC Sirikwa scheme in Nakuru District, a public figure that got more than the average that is, Mr Justice William Tuiyot who has since died got 85 acres in the ADC Sirikwa scheme.

Other according to the report include retired Judge Mbito who was also allocated 50 acres of the ADC Zea, while a former commissioner of prisons, Mr Edward Lokopoyit got 90 acres of the land.

According to Daily Nation, December 17, 2004, story by David Okwemba ad Mburu Mwangi, former MPs Joseph Kimkung (Mt Elgon) and Jesse Maizs got 30 and 15 acres respectively in the ADC ZEA area. Former Principal Immigration Officer Henry ole Ndiema got 50 acres and a house in the same area.

A former permanent secretary, Mr William Kimalat got 80 acres of ADC Jabali, while a former top policeman Stanley Manyinya got 130 acres in the same area. Former PC Ishmael Chelang'a (since dead) got 90 acres.

Former MPs G. G. Mokku, Japheth Ekidor, Immanuel Imana, Mr David Sudi, Boaz Kaino and Francis Mutwol also benefited. Mr Kaino got 50 acres, Mr Imana 25, Mr Ekidor 20, Mr Mutwol 10 and Mr Sudi 20 from the ADC Milimani land.

The report also implicates many top soldiers and also clerics as among those listed as having been allocated the land. Most of the Moi Ndabi land was allocated by the director of lands.

Another prominent figure in the list is Kerio Central MP Nicholas Biwott who if could lose the 161 hectares in Kaptagat forest allocated to him in 1994 for the Maria Soti Education Trust was going to benefit thousands of landless people.

Other prominent politicians whom Ngungu recommended that their illegally acquired lad could be repossessed included former minister, a former head of the civil service and a former permanent secretary who stood to lose about 1,170 hectares of land hived off South Nandi Forest in 1999.

The three, Mr Henry Kosgey (the ODM chairman and minister), Dr Sally Kosgei (also ODM minister of Higher Education) and Mr Zakayo Cheruiyot were to exchange the land with farmers on a hilly terrain, even though according to the report there was conflict in the exchange as the Ngerek community, which was supposed to benefit, was left out.

The family of former Lands and Settlement minister Jackson Angaine, was expected to lose more than 900 hectares of land hived off from Mount Kenya forest in 1975 and 1977 if the recommendations were to be taken seriously by the government.

Former Limuru MP Mr Kuria Kanyingi was also named as the beneficiary of a 24 hectare farm carved out of Kiambu Forest in 1984. The report also noted that a title deed was issued for only 15 hectares to Kama Agencies in 1995. It recommends that the allocation to the MP should be revoked.

Those allocated parts of the Ngong forest and Karura Forest in the 1990s that Ndung'u Committee recommended that should all be revoked included former Mathioya MP Joseph Kamotho, former Cooperative Bank of Kenya chairman, Hosea Kiplagat, former Commissioner of Police Shedrack Kiruki and Maj-Gen Humphrey Njoroge.

Also named in the report was former Comptroller of State House John Lokorio who appeared as a beneficiary in settlement schemes in Nakuru District including the Nakuru/Olenguruone/Kiptagich extension.

Also in the same scheme is Mr Kiplagat, Mr Samson Cheramboss who once headed President Moi's security detail, former nominated MP Mr Mark Too, former Moi aide Joshua Kulei and former head of Presidential Press Service Lee Njiru.

Others named include former CID boss Mr Francis Sang,
former managing director of Telkom Kenya Mr Augustine Cheserem,
former minister William Morogo and Eldama Ravine MP Mr Musa Sirma and his wife.

Former MD of the National Cereals and Produce Board Major (Rtd) Wilson Koitaba, former land commissioner Mr Sammy Mwaita received 10 plots and the deputy governor of the Central bank Dr Edward Sambili was allocated 7 hectares. Mr Gideon Moi and his wife got the biggest chunk of 44 hectares.

Other beneficiaries are former PS Dr Nehemiah Ng'eno, Dr Julius Rotich who had been named as one of the anti-corruption authority assistant directors, another former PS Mr Mark Bor, Cooperatives PS Mr Solomon Boit, Deputy police commissioner Mr David Kimaiyo and the chaplain of Kabarak high school Rev Jones Kaleli.

Baringo North MP William Boit, director of Motor Licensing Simon Kirgotty, director of survey Mr H. H. Nyapola, security intelligence deputy director Mr Shukri Baramade and Administration Police commandant Kinuthia Mbugua also got land illegally.

Even after former Kitale Catholic Justice and Peace Commission Director, Father Gabriel Dolan, a year later told the Government to implement the recommendations of the Ndung'u Land Report, nothing has ever happened since.
Dolan was quoted by the Standard Newspaper (March 5, 2005) as saying the Government had promised to effect the proposals by the end of February, but this did not happen.

His suggestion that the Government should restore the faith of its citizens by immediately acting on the findings of the land report landed on the deaf ears. He wanted all grabbed and illegally allocated land should be repossessed and re-distributed to the landless instead of a few people managing all the land resources in the country when the larger population is landless.

* Fr Joachim Omolo Ouko, AJ, People for Peace in Africa (PPA),
Copyright © 2008 Fahamu. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (

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