Annual Report: Kenya 2011

May 28, 2011

Annual Report: Kenya 2011

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International justice

In March, the International Criminal Court (ICC) decided to investigate crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the post-election violence of 2007/8. In December the ICC Prosecutor requested the Court to issue summonses against six individuals for crimes against humanity alleged to have been committed during the post-election violence. Parliament passed a motion in December calling for the executive arm of government to initiate Kenya's withdrawal from the Rome Statute establishing the ICC and for the repeal of the International Crimes Act which incorporates the statute into Kenyan law. The government's formal reaction to the motion was pending at the end of the year.

Although Kenya is obliged to arrest and surrender to the ICC anyone named in an arrest warrant, in August during celebrations to mark the new Constitution the government hosted Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir, against whom the ICC issued arrest warrants in March 2009 and July 2010.

Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission

The Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) established in the wake of the post-election violence started its operations. By the end of the year the TJRC was engaged in a country-wide process of taking statements from possible witnesses. However, its work was constrained by questions over the credibility of the chairperson and lack of funding. In April, the Commission vice-chair resigned, citing allegations that the chairperson had been involved in human rights violations and other issues that might be the subject of the TJRC's inquiry. Following a petition in April by eight of the nine TJRC Commissioners, in October the Chief Justice appointed a tribunal to investigate the issue. In November the TJRC chair stepped aside pending the tribunal's report, which was due within six months.

Witness protection

In June the Witness Protection (Amendment) Act became law, expanding the definition of a witness in need of protection and establishing an independent witness protection agency.

Up to 22 witnesses who testified before a 2008 official inquiry into the post-election violence, who might be called to testify in future ICC or other trials, were reported to be living in fear. An unknown number fled the country because of threats.

Violence against women and girls

Sexual and other forms of gender-based violence remained rampant throughout the country. The official Demographic and Health Survey 2008-2009 found that spousal violence was widespread, in particular marital rape which is not criminalized under Kenyan law. The Survey also found that female genital mutilation was still practised by a number of communities. The social stigma attached to victims of sexual violence means that most incidents of sexual and gender-based violence are never reported.

In July Parliament passed the Counter Trafficking in Persons Act, penalizing human trafficking, including trafficking of children. The President assented to the law in October.

Housing rights

The government failed to enforce existing laws and standards on sanitation in slums and informal settlements, leaving millions of people without access to toilets and private washing facilities. The lack of access to facilities in the immediate household vicinity, combined with an absence of effective police presence in the slums and settlements, placed women at risk of sexual violence, particularly at night.

Forced evictions

More than 50,000 people living alongside railway lines remained under the threat of forced evictions after the state-owned Kenya Railways Corporation issued a 30-day notice to quit in March. The Corporation announced that the evictions related to an upgrading project. Although the evictions were not carried out by the end of the year, the Corporation had not formally withdrawn the threat of evictions. Most of the people likely to be affected had been living and working on these lands for years and a 30-day notice period was wholly inadequate. No comprehensive resettlement or compensation plan was announced and the government did not make provision for those who would lose their homes, livelihoods, possessions and social networks as a result of the project.