August 30, 2008 at 5:36 AM- The state-funded Kenya National Commission on Human Rights has produced a researched but politically explosive report which links six government ministers to the violence that followed this year’s elections, when over 1,000 people died and some 350,000 were displaced (AC Vol 49 No 16). Although the KNCHR is yet to release the full list of the 209 people it named as involved in the violence, Muigwithania 2.0 and Africa Confidential have both obtained a copy which includes what the KNCHR describes as ‘a list of alleged perpetrators’ which it believes ‘provides a basis and a good starting point for further investigations’. The KNCHR emphasises that it is ‘not making any conclusions that the persons mentioned are guilty’. It insists that it has made every effort to ensure that the information about the named persons meets a threshold of credibility and that it has subjected the list to review by ‘independent persons’ and ‘national experts’.
The KNCHR’s list of ‘alleged perpetrators’ includes six cabinet ministers: xxxx xxxxxx from President Mwai Kibaki‘s Party of National Unity, Sally Kosgei, Henry Kosgey, William Ruto, Najib Balala and the late Kipkalya Kones from Prime Minister Raila Odinga‘s Orange Democratic Movement. It also included allegations against a bishop and several preachers, Christian and Muslim, for involvement in the violence. List of Alleged Perpetrators.
To substantiate its ‘list of perpetrators’, which includes 20 MPs, the KNCHR report goes into some detail about political meetings leading up to the election crisis and some held once the violence had started. It argues forcefully that at least part of the violence was well organised prior to the election.
For example, it reports that Agriculture Minister William Ruto (MP for Eldoret North) held a meeting in August 2007 with other senior ODM leaders in Kipkelion near Kericho which included the late Lorna Laboso (MP for Sotik), the late Kipkalya Kones (MP for Bomet and a Minister) and Franklin Bett (MP for Bureti). At this meeting, the report states the attendees resolved to carry out mass evictions of non-Kalenjins from their homes in the Rift Valley, particularly the Kikuyu and Abagusii.
In a separate section, the report names former High Commissioner to London and now Minister of Higher Education Sally Kosgei as ‘planning, inciting and financing’ the violence in the Rift Valley. It also accuses Tourism Minister Najib Balala of inciting and paying youths Ksh500 (US$7.37) each to cause violence.
The Commission Chairwoman, Florence Simbiri-Jaoko, who replaced Maina Kiai at the end of July, said the full report listed five ministers, five religious leaders, eight senior provincial administrators and 13 others. She would pass its findings to the government’s own probe, the Commission to Investigate Post-Election Violence, which is headed by Justice Philip Waki and which is partly funded by the United Nations, she added. She will call for the prosecution of the named officials and others implicated in the events in five of Kenya’s eight provinces (Rift, Nyanza, Western, Coast and Central) and in Nairobi.
Now politicians and journalists are taking aim at the KNCHR’s report. Nairobi’s Daily Nation claims that an annexe with the full list of names was removed at the last minute and suggests that the names of Odinga’s allies were removed but those of Kibaki’s stayed. KNCHR officials deny any such doctoring.
It is true that in the version of the report made public, the Odinga supporters named – with the exception of a former lieutenant of ex-President Daniel arap Moi, William Ole Ntimama – are almost all minor political and business players who would have drawn finance and support from more senior figures. Many say that powerful Kikuyu business and political interests financed the pro-Kibaki gangs in Nairobi’s slums but the report says nothing about the financiers of the anti-Kikuyu gangs.
Three chapters of the report are devoted to the worst hit South, North, and Central parts of the Rift Valley. They detail atrocities such as the burning alive of Kikuyu people in a church in Kiambaa in Eldoret, the forcible circumcision of Luo men who then bled to death, murders and lynchings by gangs in various parts of the country and in Nairobi’s slums, and hundreds of rapes.
The report criticises the ‘negative ethnicity’ of FM radio stations and of members of parliament at pre-election rallies. In the Rift, the term kuondoa madoadoa (‘remove the spot’) incited constituents to get rid of Kikuyu. Kihii (‘uncircumcised man’ in Kikuyu) was used to berate uncircumcised Luo.
Information was collected over four months in 136 constituencies from 1,102 deponents, including 46 senior policemen, 40 provincial administrators, 33 councillors and ten MPs. The detail, numbers and naming of at least some names is a breakthrough. It is unclear whether the individuals interviewed will testify, given the police’s difficulty in obtaining evidence, or whether the information will stand up in court.
The KNCHR asks the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to open investigations on Kenya, claiming crimes against humanity were committed as part of a planned policy, and to determine ‘who bears the greatest responsibility’.
The KNCHR details violence against Kikuyu and upcountry groups in the Rift and elsewhere, and retaliatory violence against Luo, Kalenjin and people of other non-Kikuyu ethnic groups, which led to 7,500 ‘episodes of violence’, numerous rapes, and the destruction of property. It claims that this was premeditated, highly organised and financed by key politicians, businessmen, community leaders, civil servants and many teachers.
The former District Commissioner of Uasin Gishu in the Rift, Bernard Kinyua, has told the Waki Commission that he and others received no reports that youths were being trained and said the violence there was spontaneous. Hassan Noor Hassan, Provincial Commissioner of the Rift Valley, also insisted to the Waki Commission that the violence was spontaneous and that reports of oath-taking had been inferred incorrectly from circumcision ceremonies taking place at the time.
Three District Commissioners from the North Rift, Stephan Ikua (Koibatek), Mabeya Mogaka (formerly of Nandi North) and Aden Parake (Kipkelion), also told the Waki Commission that the violence was spontaneous. In the 1990s, the Akiwumi Commission’s investigation into tribal clashes accused government administrators of being untruthful and attempting cover-ups.
The report argues that the police and security agencies adopted a shoot-to-kill policy, mainly in Kisumu and parts of Nairobi. Police officers from Kisumu and Homa Bay in Nyanza (Edward Mwamburi and Simon Kiragu) told the Waki Commission that they were ordered to use live rounds.
The KNCHR chastises the government for failing to act on warnings from the National Security Intelligence Service. Earlier, the Director of that service, Brigadier Michael Gichangi, had testified to the Waki Commission that it had information forecasting violence before the elections, including reports of oathing and the names of gang sponsors.
The report describes positive actions to quell violence by police and other agencies, acknowledging that their task was enormous and sometimes overwhelming. It also describes cases where police and others assisted individuals from their own groups and failed to protect other communities. Some clergy did likewise, although in Narok and Mombassa, elders, religious leaders and police persuaded local youths to desist from violence.
The report asked the Attorney General or the police to investigate those listed in its unpublished Annex 1, while noting that the list is not comprehensive. It also calls for an investigation of the security forces and for special courts in the ‘theatres of violence’. Its other recommendations include the enactment of legislation on ‘hate speech’, provision for internally displaced people and human rights education for nation-building.