KNCHR urge Release of Kenyans Arrested in Uganda.
The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) has continued for calls to the Ugandan authorities to release the Kenyans rendition to Uganda over the July 11th bombings.
Present during 5th October function were veteran Kenyan politicians among them Paul Muite who is a former member of Parliament and a political activist, Hon. Ababu Namwamba as well as the KNCHR officials among them Hassan Omar Hassan and famous lawyer Mbugua Mureithi.
The main agenda of the function was to call on the Kenyan government and the Uganda government to release Kenyan’s who are illegally arrested in Kampala citing inhuman conditions.
Mr. Randislus Wakafuzi who is an advocate and an Editor of a leading Ugandan daily also lamented the conditions in which the rights of Kenyans in custody are being undermined.
”The Uganda police cells are in poor conditions, those Kenyans imprisoned there are being given a single meal per day” Wakafuzi was quoted as saying.
”There was no written application from the Uganda government directed to the Kenyan authority to ferrying the suspects to Uganda” added Wakafuzi.
There are now 38 suspects, 13 of which are Kenyans including Al-Amin Kimathi, Executive Director of the Muslim Human Rights Forum (MHRF), who was arrested in Uganda last week while on his second observation visit of the trial of the four of the nine Kenyans in Ugandan custody.
The activist was in company of a Kenyan Lawyer Mr. Mbugua Mureithi, who was detained and later deported. Mr Kimathi has now been charged with 76 counts of murder and one of terrorism.
”The United States intelligence agency FBI who are the ones interviewing the Kenyans have absolutely no interest at all with the July 11th bombings but all they were concerned with was whether any of the suspects in question had traveled to any of the Al Qaeda strongholds like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia’’ Wakafuzi concluded.
Local media published details of a leaked intelligence report which attempts to link all the Kenyan suspects to the attack, and as being operatives of Al-Shabab and Al Qaeda networks in the region. The Kenya government, the same day quoted the East Africa Community treaty on peace and security to justify its rendition of its citizens to Uganda.
“The arrest and swift rendition of suspects to Uganda is a blatant violation of provisions of the new constitution by the Kenya security agents, and they should be held to account and made to respect it”, said Lawyer and politician Paul Muite.
Families of the suspects had gone to Nairobi court to apply for suspects to be produced, released or extradited. But the security agencies replied that the accused were already out of local jurisdiction. Some of the suspects were arrested and shipped to Uganda the same day and detained.
KNCHR Commissioner Hassan Omar observed that following the passage of the new constitution, the government and its security agencies have adopted a new policy of ‘arrest and deny it’ owing to illegality of the actions, and entrenched culture of impunity.
Speakers accused the Kenyan authorities of violating the United Nations convention on mutual assistance and the extradition process in combating crimes, and of violating the guidelines on the right to a fair trial and legal assistance in Africa.
“If the detained Kenyans have committed any crime, the right procedures and due [legal] process must be followed in their arrest, detention, extradition and trial, else the whole affair risks being a mockery of justice system and international law”, said Muthoni Wanyeki, Executive Director of Kenya Human Rights Commission [KHRC], an NGO.
The United States came up for harsh criticisms after the deported lawyer revealed that it’s Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI] agents were directing arrests and interrogations of suspects in Kampala. “The US funded the passage of Kenya’s new constitution with improved bill of rights, and yet it is taking part in the illegal rendition of Kenyans which violate the same law”, said Muite. He urged Kenyans to rise up and defend the new constitution, and to campaign for its full implementation.
“We all condemn acts of terror, and Kenya experience with terrorism has been painful. But we cannot circumvent the rule of law to fight a crime”, added Muite.
The meeting called for a stop to profiling and continued rendition of people of Muslim faith to Uganda, Ethiopia and Somalia. Participants called for the unconditional release of human rights activist, fair trial, and access to legal rights and protection for suspects. They also called for the impeachment of Kenya’s President Kibaki for failing to uphold and safeguard the new constitution that he signed into law recently.
Mr. Muite said they are exploring chances of filling a criminal liability case against the head of Anti-Terrorism Police Unit and Police Commissioner over the kidnapping and illegal rendition of Kenyans.
A team of human rights defenders from Kenya will also be sent to Uganda to observe the trials. The media was urged to provide objective coverage to the terror cases, to avoid bias, sensationalism which may aid colluding states “to manufacture public consent against the suspects”.
Participants heard that Uganda authorities have taken advantage of the Kampala bombing to suppress political space, rights and freedoms of the people and suspects.