Last Updated: Monday, 23 October 2017, 15:25 GMT

Kenya: State protection for individuals targeted by cult members or devil worshippers; official government position on cults

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 5 April 2002
Citation / Document Symbol KEN38580.E
Reference 2
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Kenya: State protection for individuals targeted by cult members or devil worshippers; official government position on cults, 5 April 2002, KEN38580.E, available at: [accessed 23 October 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Specific information on state protection for individuals targeted by cult members or devil worshippers could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. However, the U.S. State's Department Annual International Religious Freedom for 2001,

in August 1999, the Government presented to Parliament and thereby effectively published the 1994 widely-publicized report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Devil Worship. President Moi appointed the Commission in 1994 in response to public concern about a perceived resurgence of witchcraft, ritual murders, and other ostensibly "Satanic" practices associated with aspects of traditional indigenous religions. The Commission's report included numerous reports of ritual murder, human sacrifice, cannibalism, and feats of magic allegedly done by using powers acquired through such acts. It also reported that "Satanists" had infiltrated nonindigenous religious groups and other organizations, making them "doorways" to Satanism. The Commission is no longer functioning, and the Government took no action to follow up on the report. ...

The Government historically has been unsympathetic to tribal religious groups that have engendered protest movements. The Government frequently harassed and periodically arrested and detained members of the Mungiki, a small, controversial, cultural and political movement based in part on Kikuyu ethnic traditions, which espouses political views and cultural practices that are controversial in mainstream Kenyan society ...

A Nation report of 9 January 2002 quoted a member of parliament reportedly calling on the government to formulated a policy aimed at eliminating "evil cults" in the whole country. According to the MP, "many people in the rural areas had lost their lives due to doctrines and teachings of such such cults" (ibid.). A 4 March 2002 IPS report states that "the police have found it difficult to crack down on the Mungiki because of the sect's secretive nature. The Mungiki claim to have over 300,000 members including around 20 members of parliament. Forces from the police and the General Service Unit regularly break up the Mungiki's private meetings and religious ceremonies and make mass arrests. But they have failed to stem the cult's popularity" (IPS 4 Mar. 2002).

"In May 2000, President Moi was quoted widely in the press calling for action against the Mungiki religious and political group," the police also forcibly disrupted their meetings and arrested several of their members in 2001 (Country Reports 2001, Mar. 2002).

Nonetheless, in early March 2002, members of Mungiki sect reportedly killed over 20 people and injured 28 others in Kariobangi, an area north of Nairobi (The East African Standard 5 Mar. 2002; IPS 4 Mar. 2002). Although the police reportedly investigated "the motive" and carried out house searches," police officers could not fire at them [Mungiki members] because the area is normally crowded and innocent people could have been injured or killed," (The East African Standard 5 Mar. 2002). However, security in the area had reportedly been "beefed up" under the command of the Provincial Police Officer (PPO) (ibid). The violence by Mungiki members was reportedly in retaliation for the murder of about three of their members in the area killed by a vigilante group known as the "Taliban" (IPS 4 Mar. 2002; The East African Standard 5 Mar. 2002; PANA 5 March 2002; Reuters 6 Mar. 2002).

Following this incident, police reportedly arrested 13 suspected Mungiki members in Nairobi city and 56 others in Thika (The East African Standard 8 Mar. 2002).

No information on membership cards or tribal affiliation could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

For additional information on Mungiki, please consult KEN38335.E of 11 February 2002 available in REFINFO.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Annual Report on International Religious Freedom 2001. "Kenya." United States Department of State. Washington, DC. [Accessed: 1 Apr. 2002]

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2001. 2002. United States Government of State. Washington, DC. United States Government Printing Office.

The Eastern African Standard [Nairobi]. 8 March 2002 "Kenya: 69 Suspected Munguki Members Arrested." (NEXIS)

_____. 5 March 2002. "Kenya: 23 Butchered by Mungiki Followers in a Night of Terror." (NEXIS)

Inter Press Service (IPS). 4 March 2002. Katy Salmon. "Politics-Kenya: Twenty Die in Battle with Religious Cult." (NEXIS)

The Nation [Nairobi]. 9 January 2002. Allan Odhiambo. "State, Church Urged to Wage Battle on Cults." (NEXIS)

Panafrican News Agency (PANA). 5 March 2002. "Kenyans Outraged as Death Toll Rises." (NEXIS)

Reuters. 6 March 2002. "Kenya Police Detain Sect Leader After Killings." (NEXIS)

Additional Sources Consulted

Africa Research Bulletin: Political, Social and Cultural Series.

Keesing's Record of World Events [Cambridge]

Resource Centre Country File.

IRB Databases

Internet sites including:

All Africa

Daily Nation

Centre for Studies in New Religions

Search engines including:



Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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