Special Procedures Mandate Holders Deeply Concerned by Situation in Kenya

Walter Kälin
Walter Kälin Former Brookings Expert

January 4, 2008

The United Nations human rights experts whose names appear below issued the following statement today:

Geneva—“Following and in line with the statement made by the High Commissioner for Human Rights on 31 December 2007, we wish to express our deep concern at the events that have occurred in Kenya in the last days following contested election results. We are especially distressed by the tragic loss of human lives, the numerous casualties and destruction of property and infrastructure.

We also express our great concern at the humanitarian crisis resulting from ongoing violence, in particular massive displacement affecting especially the populations in the Rift Valley, which threatens enjoyment of the right to food, health, housing and education in areas affected by the violence, particularly among the poorest. We are concerned at reports of gang rapes associated with the upsurge in violence and the devastating impact on victims including the likelihood of HIV infection.

We express our strong condemnation of the extreme violence that took place in the western town of Eldoret on 1 January 2008, when dozens of civilians, including children and women, were killed after a mob set fire to a church where they had taken sanctuary. In this regard, we are profoundly alarmed by the reports of incitement to racial hatred and the growing frictions between the different ethnic groups in Kenya. In the light of historical precedents in the region, we strongly appeal to the Kenyan authorities, as well as political, ethnic and religious leaders, to put an end to what may become the dynamics of inter-ethnic killings, while also calling upon the international community, including the United Nations Security Council, to fulfil its responsibilities in this regard.

Furthermore, we are deeply concerned by allegations regarding the limitations imposed on the right to freedom of expression, in particular a specific ban prohibiting live coverage of events in Kenya.

While we recognize the prerogative and duty of the Kenyan authorities to maintain public order, we are however alarmed by reported instances of use of excessive force by Kenyan security forces against demonstrators and other civilians. In this respect, we would like to remind the Kenyan authorities of their international human rights obligations that require that they discharge their duties in strict compliance with established international legal norms and standards.

We also call on all parties involved to actively work towards a peaceful and rapid solution to end the violence in Kenya. We urge the incumbent Kenyan authorities to take all necessary steps and measures to bring an end to the present situation, including by addressing appropriately questions raised with regard to the latest election results. We also call upon the leaders of political parties to show restraint and control over their followers and supporters.

We deplore and condemn the current situation of violence in Kenya and its grave consequences on the population and will continue to follow closely the situation in the country in light of the legal commitments and obligations binding on Kenya under international human rights law”.

The experts are:

Doudou Diène, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance

Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions

Leandro Despouy, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers

Yakin Ertürk, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences

Paul Hunt, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health

Asma Jahangir, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief

Walter Kälin, Representative of the Secretary-General on the human rights of internally displaced persons

Miloon Kothari, Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to nondiscrimination in this context

Gay McDougall, Independent Expert on minority issues

Vernor Muñoz Villalobos, Special Rapporteur on the right to education

Manfred Nowak, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment

Martin Scheinin, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism

Rodolfo Stavenhagen, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people

Jean Ziegler, Special Rapporteur on the right to food