Juliana Rotich
Mar 20, 2008

A pdf document has been made available to Ushahidi by the UN Human Rights Team, you can download the Final OHCHR Kenya report 19 March2008.pdf Below is the summary and press release. UN HUMAN RIGHTS TEAM ISSUES REPORT ON POST-ELECTION VIOLENCE IN KENYA The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) issued a report on Wednesday following a three week fact-finding mission focussing on the violence that engulfed Kenya in the wake of the disputed Presidential election on 27 December 2007. The report suggests that greater accountability and an end to impunity will be key to addressing the underlying problems and preventing further outbreaks, thereby reinforcing the ongoing reconciliation process and power-sharing agreement. The 20-page report by an OHCHR fact-finding team that visited Kenya from 6 to 28 February concludes that, while irregularities in the election process were the primary trigger of the violence, a number of underlying causes – including discrimination, poverty and disenfranchisement – fuelled the crisis. The team visited 15 of the worst affected locations, and interviewed 188 victims and witnesses of post-electoral violence, as well as members of the Government and opposition parties, law enforcement agencies, members of civil society, NGOs, UN agencies, diplomats and other interested parties. The report identifies three "distinct but sometimes concurrent patterns of violence – spontaneous, organised and retaliatory." The first phase began immediately after the announcement of the contested election results, when opposition supporters took to the streets in protest, especially in Kisumu and the Nairobi slum areas; the second wave consisted of organised attacks in the Rift Valley which appear to have targeted non-Kalenjin communities and those perceived as opponents of the opposition ODM party, including the Kikuyu, Kisii and Luyha communities. In retaliation, gangs of Kikuyu youths subsequently attacked non-Kikuyu groups in Naivasha, Nakuru and Mathare In all, more than 1,200 Kenyans were reported killed, thousands more injured, over 300,000 people displaced and around 42,000 houses and many businesses were looted or destroyed. A significant number of cases of sexual violence were also reported. Noting that under international law, states bear the primary responsibility for protecting the rights of all individuals within their territory, the OHCHR report indicates that in most districts, the police were unable to maintain and enforce law and order. According to most of the victims and witnesses interviewed, the police were often present but were either overwhelmed or passive during the attacks. However, the fact-finding team also received detailed information describing how in various places, most notably in the Kibera slum area of Nairobi, Eldoret and Kisumu, the policing of demonstrations and crowds was conducted with excessive use of force resulting in death and injuries of many, including children. According to the Government's figures, 123 people were killed by the police, although an analysis of hospital reports suggests the actual number may be higher. The OHCHR team notes that, at the time of the mission, only one police officer was under investigation for brutality, and says the disparity sends a clear message to the public of impunity for police abuse. According to the report, impunity is deeply entrenched in Kenya and is not confined to the police alone. The report concludes that consistent failure to act on the findings and recommendations of various state-commissioned inquiries and studies have distanced the citizens from state institutions. Most of those interviewed identified the failure to prosecute perpetrators (including planners and organisers) of past violence and human rights violations – and the consequent message this gives to perpetrators that they are able to act in total impunity – as "major contributing factors to the violence." Noting that the violence had caused massive displacement, the report also stressed the need for the authorities to ensure that displaced people are able to freely decide when or whether to return, resettle or reintegrate through a voluntary and informed choice, free from political considerations or other pressures. The report welcomed the 28 February power-sharing agreement reached within the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation process, and noted that important commitments have been made in the context of the dialogue to carry out reforms to address long-standing issues, including inequalities and accountability, constitutional and institutional reforms. The accords include an Independent Review Committee to investigate all aspects of the 2007 Presidential electoral process; a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission; a constitutional review process, and a Commission of Inquiry with a mandate to investigate the circumstances surrounding the violence that occurred during the two months following the election. The OHCHR report makes a number of recommendations related to these processes, laying a strong emphasis on accountability. Failure to carry out reforms could undermine the fragile improvement in security that has taken hold since the signing of the power-sharing agreement, the report said.