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  • Unity governments - Kenya experience - Index of articles

  • On the brink of the precipice: A human rights account of Kenya's post 2007 election violence
    Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR)
    August 08, 2008

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    The Kenya National Commission on Human rights (KNCHR) is the country's lead agency with the statutory mandate to protect and promote the human rights of all individuals living in Kenya. Following the post-election violence in Kenya after the 2007 General Election, the National Commission commenced an investigation into the character and scope of the human rights violations which happened following the December 2007 election results crisis.

    The overall aim of the investigation was to document the post-election violence to ensure that there would be a comprehensive record of the violations committed during that period as a basis for enabling redress of such violations. The investigation was framed in terms of Section 16 of the Commission's constitutive Act, the KNCHR Act, which empowers the National Commission to; investigate on its own motion or upon a complaint, any human rights violation in the country.

    In undertaking these investigations, KNCHR teams comprising commissioners and staff undertook over 36 missions to more than 135 constituencies across the country and to Uganda, with an average duration of eight days per mission, During a period of four months, 1,102 statements recounting over 7,500 episodes of violence or incitement to violence were gathered from individuals with whom interviewers spoke. This information was complemented by hundreds of secondary data, including media stories, reports from organisations such as the Kenya Red Cross and internet materials among other sources that have been gathered from a variety of credible sources in Kenya and abroad.

    Information was gathered from the men and women of Kenya of all ethnicities and all walks of life, including farmers, lDPs, pastoralists, fishermen, public officials, security personnel, the provincial administration, religious and political leaders, elders, shop keepers, students and many other people. We got information from 46 senior police officers across the regions we visited, 40 members of the provincial administration (PCs, DCs, Dos and Chiefs), 33 councillors and around 10 sitting and former Members of Parliament. A key element in identifying the people with whom we spoke related to ensuring diversity of experiences, opinions and backgrounds, in order to enhance the participatory nature and impact of this work. This in itself is an important step towards accountability for the post-election violence through engagement of the people of Kenya in establishing a record of what happened and recommending how it might be prevented in the future.

    We employed objective criteria to determine which areas to visit, including the degree to which information gathered indicated a high level of violatlons had occurred; visiting people with information for example in IDP camps, as well as visiting the sites of violations themselves; ensuring a representative geographic spread across those areas of the country that were affected by the post-election violence; ensuring a representative spread of alleged victims and perpetrators, including both individuals and State institutions; and considerations related to access and security. Throughout the period of this work, we abided by the prin ciple of 'doing no harm to all those who were giving us information. This also entailed protecting the information itself. For this reason, basic protocols were developed and implemented to ensure the safety and security of our interviewees and the information they gave us.

    Based on the investigations carried out, the Commission is issuing this special report to the President and the National Assembly under Section 21 (1) of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights Act, which provides that the Commission may at any time submit special reports to the President and to the National Assembly on any matter.

    In releasing this report, the National Commission is requesting his Excellency the President, the Prime Minister, the Minister for Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs, the Attorney General, Members of Parliament, state agencies, civil society, the international community, the lnternational Criminal Court (lCC), and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, to study the report and take note of and implement its findings and
    recommendations at the earliest opportunity.

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