Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2005 - Kenya

Arbitrary arrests, ill-treatment and judicial proceedings against several human rights defenders58

On 18 June 2005, Mr. Ojiayo Samson and Mr. Mithika Mwenda, members of the Yellow Movement of the Multi-Sectoral Forum (MSF), an organisation pressing for a people-driven constitutional review process, were arrested and beaten while participating in a demonstration in Maua. Mr. Samson was held in solitary confinement at the Njiru police station while Mr. Mwenda was admitted to the Maua Hospital, where he was chained to his bed and kept under police guard.

On 21 June 2005, Mr. Samson and Mr. Mithika Mwenda were released on bail. The two men were accused of "offensive conduct conducive to a breach of the peace in a public place", "disorderly conduct in a police building" and "refusing to permit finger prints to be taken". Their trial started on 26 September 2005. By the end of 2005, the case was still pending and the hearings were scheduled for 15 February and 19 March 2006.

Furthermore, on 16 July 2005, Mr. Hussein Khalid, programme coordinator of Muslim for Human Rights, a project of the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), and Messrs. Ahmed Farid, Lucas Fondo, Alex Nziwi, Teddy Mwabire and Hassan Greeve, programme members, were arrested during a demonstration in front of the Sand and Sun Hotel in Mombasa where several members of the Parliament were meeting to prepare a constitutional reform project. On 18 July 2005, they were charged with "organising illegal demonstrations" and released on bail. After four hearings, the case was referred to the Mombasa Constitutional Court for "interpretation", since the police had confirmed receipt of formal prior notification that the demonstration would be held. The next hearing was scheduled for 10 March 2006.

On 19 July 2005, several human rights NGOs, political opposition parties and other members of civil society organised a protest march to the Parliament in Nairobi to defend the supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law. The police violently dispersed the demonstration by firing teargas and water cannons. Messrs. Ojiayo Samson, Ole Kina, Fred Odhiambo, John Odada and Sheikh Ahamad, members of the Yellow Movement-MSF, were taken into police custody and charged with "taking part in an illegal demonstration". They were released the same day without being charged.

During a similar demonstration on 20 July 2005, one person was killed and at least two others were seriously injured, one of them being Mr. Otieno Ombok, a human rights activist. Eight people were arrested, including Mr. Steve Musau, coordinator of the KHRC Release Political Prisons Lobby Group, and Mr. Kariuki Mithamo, associate of the Group. They were released on bail on the same day, but remained charged with "disturbing public order" and "organising illegal demonstrations". The hearing for their trial was scheduled for 19 January 2006.

On 21 July 2005, Mr. Cyprian Nyamwamu, executive director of the Executive Council of the National Convention Assembly – Reform Movement (NCEC), a coalition fighting for political reforms in the country, Mr. Kepta Ombati, national coordinator of the NGO Youth Agenda and a NCEC member, Messrs. Paul Angwenyi, Evans Owiti, Kelly Musyoka and Koitamet Ole Kina, members of Bomas Katiba Watch (BKW), Mr. Elkanah Odemba, convenor of BKW, and Mr. Sheik Ahamad were arrested while on their way, together with other demonstrators, to protest against the separation of the population from the Constitutional review process in front of the Parliament building. After being hold two days incommunicado, they were released on bail on 22 July 2005, but remained charged with "causing disturbance to public order" and "holding illegal demonstrations". By the end of 2005, the case was still pending.

[Refworld note: This report as posted on the FIDH website (www.fidh.org) was in pdf format with country chapters run together by region. Footnote numbers have been retained here, so do not necessarily begin at 1.]

58. See Urgent Appeals KEN 001/0705/OBS 047 and 047.1.


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