Public inquiry on insecurity and its impact on the enjoyment of fundamental human rights in the North Rift Region of Kenya

  • 20 June 2018
  • Author: Cyrus Maweu
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KNCHR Chairperson Kagwiria Mbogoria officially launching the North Rift Inquiry Report on insecurtiy and its effects on enjoyment of human right

KNCHR Chairperson Kagwiria Mbogoria officially launching the North Rift Inquiry Report on insecurtiy and its effects on enjoyment of human right

Your Excellency, Our Host Governor – Hon. Jackson Mandago; Your Excellencies the Governors present;
The Honorable County Senators present; The Honorable Members of Parliament;
The Honorable Members of County Assemblies in the North Rift Region; The County Commissioners present;
All the National Security Formations in North Rift Region; Invited North Rift Counties’ representatives;
Members of the Media; Invited Guests;

Ladies and Gentlemen, Good morning
Since 2014, residents from the North Rift region who were grossly affected by insecurity and other forms of conflict, visited the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights offices in Nairobi and Kitale and petitioned the Commission to investigate the persistent conflict and the arising human rights violations within the larger North Rift region.

The existing conflict was further highlighted through frequent media reports that underscored the frequency, intensity and multiplicity of attacks, counter-attacks, reprisals, deaths, displacement and injuries on a scale never witnessed before.In response and in full realization of its Constitutional mandate under Article 59, the Commission undertook various investigations and fact-finding missions into incidents of insecurity in the Counties of; Baringo, Turkana, West Pokot, Elgeyo-Marakwet and Samburu and documented the resultant human rights violations. Analysis of the information obtained showed that insecurity was widespread and systemic hence the need for a more comprehensive and open Public Inquiry to address the human rights issues.

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Commission set out to conduct a Public Inquiry that was titled: “Public Inquiry on Insecurity and its Impact on the Enjoyment of Fundamental Human Rights in the North Rift Region of Kenya.” The Public Inquiry was meant to secure accountability for the human rights violations, ascertain the actors, causes, consequences and recommend appropriate redress measures. The Public Inquiry also sought to promote the enjoyment of fundamental freedoms as envisioned in Chapter 4 of the Constitution.

The Public Inquiry hearings were conducted between May-July 2016. The Public Inquiry was conducted in twelve locations namely; Marigat, Yatia, Bartabwa, Chemolingot, Kapedo, Orwa, Kapenguria, Kainuk, Lokichar, Lodwar, Kabarnet and Eldoret where twenty seven (27) public hearing sessions were held. The hearings were held in public places – churches, social halls, schools, hotels, training institutions and at times under acacia trees. A total of 165 individuals (48 female, 117 male) orally presented their witness statements to the panel. An approximate of 4,300 members of the public attended the Public Inquiry hearings.

Commissioner Suzanne Shatikha Chivusia making a presenting a during the Launch

Commissioner Suzanne Shatikha Chivusia making a presenting a during the Launch
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

This Public Inquiry Report that is being launched today details the outcome of a fact finding mission on the impact of insecurity on the enjoyment of human rights in the North Rift Region. The Public Inquiry Report presents an analysis of the findings while providing very clear and actionable recommendations. This Public Inquiry Report will help set a baseline for human rights protection in the North Rift region.

Based on the Public Inquiry analysis of the conflicts between Pokot and I- Chamus; Pokot and Tugen; Pokot and Marakwet and Turkana and Pokot, the following are the Key findings and recommendations.

Key Findings:
i.    The Causes of Conflict
The North Rift region being home to diverse cultures and ethnic groups has a complex network of causes of conflict. Some causes are historical or cultural while others are contemporary and county-specific. The historical causes explain the Pokot–Samburu, Pokot–IChamus, Pokot–Tugen, Pokot-Turkana, Tugen-Il Chamus and Pokot-Marakwet conflicts.
The cultural causes include the high bride price and the high expectations set by the traditional sapana and athapan rituals by Pokot and Turkana respectively; that compel young men to acquire own cattle for payment of bride price.
The contemporary causes include political incitement by the local politicians. Contested and shifting administrative boundaries in the North Rift region with Mukutani, Loruk, Amaya, Kapedo, the entire West Pokot-Turkana boundary, Turkwel Gorge Dam, Lorogon village being the most prominent.
However, the Public Inquiry documented that administrative boundaries were clearly marked and respective communities witnessed the drawing and accepted them in 1932 hence the call to re-draw them has no merit.
Other causes of conflict include systemic absence of infrastructure in most areas of North Rift region coupled with a negligible presence of government security apparatus and dilapidated roads.
The marginalization of the Pokot community by successive governments from 1950 to the present day also emerged as a key cause of conflict in North Rift region. The drive from ethnic inclusion to ethnic exclusion is a dominant theme in the conflict in the region especially after the discovery of mineral wealth in some areas.
ii.    Human Rights violations as a consequence of insecurity
The Public Inquiry identified the violators of human rights in North Rift to include; the Kenya Defence Forces, National Police Service, Government duty bearers, the Pokot, Turkana, Il-Chamus, Marakwet, Tugen, Samburu. Counties bordering the North Rift region were also identified as catalysts of conflict due to the proliferation of illegal arms as a result of porous borders.
iii.    Violation of Right to Education
The Public Inquiry documented that thousands of children in the North Rift region do not attend school, or if they do, receive low quality education or experience interrupted learning. North Rift region has the lowest education transition rates at all levels, experiences high dropout rates and has high illiteracy due to insecurity compared to other parts of the country. Many schools remain closed, others are too far a distant and while many others have no teachers due to insecurity.
At the time of the Public Inquiry sessions, thirty eight (38) schools were closed as follows: Eight (8) in Turkana County), Ten (10) in West Pokot County and Twenty
(20) in Baringo County. Some of the schools have been closed for over twenty (20) years and others have been closed on and off.
As a result of the conflict a total of thirty (32) schools were destroyed and in dire need of rehabilitation. The numbers are; Turkana County seven (7) schools, West Pokot County eight (8) schools and Baringo County seventeen (17) schools.
In Pokot Central sub-county, Pokot North sub-county and Tiaty sub-county many schools have no government teachers. Where government teachers are present, the teacher-pupil ratio stood at 1:105 which is 250% beyond the government recommendation ratio of 1:42. Silale, Naudo and Ng’oron locations of Tiaty sub- county and Nasolot, Turkwel, Omblion, Alale and Apuke Locations in West Pokot sub-county are singled out as the most affected.
iv.    The Right to access quality water
Insecurity in the North Rift region has greatly violated this right to access water due to displacement, damage and neglect of water infrastructure. In Turkana County for instance, fourteen (14) water sources were not accessible due to insecurity. The Public Inquiry documented eight (8) water sources which were vandalized by attackers. In Baringo County, ten (10) boreholes were destroyed by raiders hence denying thousands of households’ access to water. Some water projects were also abandoned before completion due to conflict especially in Baringo South and Baringo North.
v.    The Right to Health Care
Insecurity in North Rift region, has negatively affected the enjoyment of the right to health. The health sector in the region is undeveloped and health services are either not provided or are intermittently provided due to closure of health facilities. In Tiaty sub-county, fifty four (54) health facilities are in insecure areas. Fourteen
(14) of them were documented as closed, which is a 26.0% of the total health facilities. There are only forty eight (48) nurses and at the time of the Public Inquiry there were no doctors for the population of 173,429 people. The average distance to a health facility as at the time of the Public Inquiry was 40km. In the entire North Rift region the staffing of health facilities is only 22% against the WHO recommendation of 88%.
vi.    Property Rights
This right to own property has grossly been violated resulting in many households been deprived of their livestock and beekeeping activities thereby taking away their properties and sources of livelihood. Based on the Public Inquiry documented data, between 2005 and 2015, a total of 880 cattle, 12,592 goats, 2,242 sheep, 165 camels and 115 donkeys were rustled from Turkana South sub-county. In West Pokot County, 1,316 cattle, 3,757 goats, 1,070 sheep and 118 camels were rustled translating to about Kshs. 478,937,300 worth of livestock.
Minimal access to many areas, rugged terrain, lack of roads, few police officers, the slow or no response by police, blame-game between police and chiefs, non-use of intelligence information have contributed to cattle rustling leading to little or no recoveries of rustled livestock.
vii.    Right to Life
Between 2005 and 2015, a total of five hundred and seventy three (573) people were killed, 1,752 injured and 589 houses burnt during cattle rustling incidents.
The insecurity in the North Rift region also denies vital revenue to county governments due to closed livestock’s markets. For example, Baringo County loses Kshs.6,252,400 annually when livestock markets are closed due to insecurity.
viii.    Right to Freedom and Security of the Person
The constant and often violent attacks continue to violate the right to freedom and security of the person that protects individuals from among others any form of violence from either public or private sources.
ix.    Freedom of Worship
The Public Inquiry established that a total of twenty nine (29) churches (17 Roman Catholic Churches and 12 Full Gospel Churches) were abandoned or destroyed in Baringo, West Pokot, Turkana and Elgeyo-Marakwet Counties. Many areas of the same counties are also inaccessible to religious services due to conflict. In many North Rift regions, church development and spiritual nourishment programmes have been abandoned, not implemented or delayed. Churches have been subjected to attacks and many now function as centers of refuge.
x.    Inadequate deployment of security personnel
The Public Inquiry documented that the Kenya Police Reservist (KPR) in North Rift region operate in difficult circumstances. Their recruitment, training, motivation and disengagement are unmethodical. They are a demoralized group and are often the targets of attackers. A considerable number of people with gunshot wounds in North Rift region are Kenya Police Reservists. There is also scanty police presence and most areas are under the control of the local population. Almost 98% of the North Rift region has no police presence.
xi.    Human  Rights  violations  by Kenya  Defence  Forces  and  National Police Service
In 2014 the Kenya Defence Forces and National Police Service viciously violated the rights of many Pokot people following the killing of nineteen (19) policemen at “Kasarani” area of Turkana East. The Public Inquiry was presented with twenty one (21) types of violations committed against children, women and men by Kenya Defence Forces and National Police.
Violations ranged from deaths, disappearance of persons, torture, confiscation of property, destruction of businesses, homesteads, schools, churches, markets, shooting and slaughter of livestock and looting of shops.

Part of the attendants in the Launch of the  North Rift inquiry report

Part of the attendants in the Launch of the  North Rift inquiry report

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights makes the following recommendations to address violations documented during the  Public Inquiry:
1.    The President of the Republic of Kenya, Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the Chief of the General Staff should acknowledge the violations and apologize to the people of North Rift region for omission and commission in the provision of the right to Freedom and Security of the Person.

2.    A comprehensive disarmament exercise needs to be conducted in all the North Rift Counties. The National government needs to deploy enough security personnel to the satisfaction of the local people and assurance of sustained security protection. The Commission shall oversee the exercise to ensure the same is conducted in a manner that respects human rights and is done in consultation with the neighbouring Counties.

3.    There is need for full recognition and complimentary utilization of Kenya Police Reservist (KPR) services in the communities within North Rift region.

4.    An audit of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) as well as integrated IDPs needs to be carried out in the entire North Rift region as a matter of priority. They must be supported to restore their normal livelihoods.

5.    The victims of conflict should be compensated by the national government for its inability to protect its people and their property as well as government officers who were identified as human rights violators. A National Fund for this purpose should be established and anchored in the law.
6.    The collapse of the education system in parts of North Rift region particularly in Tiaty sub-county, Pokot North and Pokot Central needs a rapid response mechanism for restoration. A Fund for this purpose should be set up and construction of low cost boarding schools needs to be initiated. The Ministry of Education through the Teachers Service Commission and County Directors of Education must immediately post teachers to those schools without undue delay.

7.    The Commission recommends opening up of boundary areas through road construction and other shared facilities and projects to increase points of interaction and common interests between the various ethnic groups.

8.    There is need to promote and revive collapsed alternative sources of livelihood such as irrigation projects and bee keeping activities to reduce the over-reliance on indigenous cattle as the only means of livelihood.

9.    An audit of human rights violations in North Rift region needs to be carried out to ascertain the actual role of Kenya Defence Forces and National Police agents. The national government needs to compensate the Pokot community for the human rights violations of 2014 meted by Kenya Defence Forces. Further, The Kenya Defence Forces and National Police Service need to undertake corporate social responsibility projects in East Pokot and West Pokot to win back the community good-will and confidence.

10.    The Tiaty (East Pokot) sub-county needs a special package to provide infrastructure for education, water, roads and health.

11.    The government officers and politicians adversely mentioned as sponsors or promoters of human rights violations should be investigated further with a view to prosecute them.

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
In conclusion, the Public Inquiry established and documented critical first-hand information on the impact of insecurity on the realization of human rights in the
North Rift region. The Commission will use the opportunity presented by the findings and recommendations of the Public Inquiry to start an engagement aimed at empowering the local communities so that they can effectively participate in the decision-making process, especially on various aspects that touch on their enjoyment of human rights. The ultimate goal is to encourage the community to demand for accountability and redress for human rights violations from the relevant authorities.

The KNCHR wishes to acknowledge the different stakeholders efforts in addressing the insecurity problem. Special tribute goes to His Lordship the Late Bishop Cornelius Korir for his peace building initiatives. Posthumously we honour and recognize him as a true Human Rights Defender and Peacemaker. Equally we acknowledge and appreciate World Vision Kenya for their programmes and strategies initiated in the entire North Rift region such as engagement with ex- warriors, formation of elders committees and support of opportunities for shared community activities.
Kenya National Commission on Human Rights calls upon both levels of Governments to implement the recommendations of the “Public Inquiry on Insecurity and Its Impact on the Enjoyment of Fundamental Human Rights in the North Rift Region of Kenya”.

Kenya National Commission on Human Rights also calls on the members of the Fourth Estate, our media, to work closely with the Commission in disseminating and publicizing the final Public Inquiry findings and the recommendations being launched today.
I thank you All.

Download full report

Ms. Kagwria Mbogori, CHAIRPERSON


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