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Press Release: Mass Killings in Shakahola Area in Malindi, Kilifi County Linked to Religious Cultism

Kenya National Commission on Human Rights

Press Statement: Nairobi, Wednesday 26th April, 2023    For Immediate Release:

Mass Killings in Shakahola Area in Malindi Kilifi County Linked to Religious Cultism

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) is deeply saddened and concerned by the tragic loss of nearly 100 lives in the mass killings in the Shakahola area in Malindi, Kilifi County, which has been linked to religious cultism. The Commission expresses its condolences to the families and friends of the victims, and it stands in solidarity with the victims who have been rescued and currently recuperating in hospitals. KNCHR calls on the government to provide support and assistance to the families of the victims.

The right to life is a fundamental human right enshrined in the Constitution of Kenya. Article 26 (1 & 3) of the Constitution states that every person has the right to life, and a person shall not be deprived of life intentionally. The Constitution also guarantees the freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief and opinion, as enshrined in Article 32.

However, these rights and freedoms must be exercised within the confines of the law and in a manner that does not infringe on the rights of others. The Commission joins individuals, groups and associations to condemn the use of religion as a cover for perpetrating heinous crimes such as the mass killings in Shakahola area. Such acts not only violate the Constitution but also go against the core tenets of any religion, which espouses peace, love and respect for human life.

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights calls upon the law enforcement agencies to conduct thorough investigations into these killings and take urgent and effective measures to bring the perpetrators to justice. The Government should ensure the safety and security of all citizens, especially the special interest groups and the vulnerable such as; children, women, youth, the elderly and persons with disabilities.

The Commission also calls on religious leaders to play their role in promoting social harmony, tolerance and respect for human life. Religious gatherings should not be used as platforms for promoting violation and abuse of human rights and fundamental freedoms, but rather as a means of promoting social harmony.

The Government should further prioritize education and awareness raising on the dangers of cultism and religious radicalization and the need to uphold the rule of law even in religiosity. This will go a long way in preventing such incidents in the future and promoting a culture of respect for human rights and freedoms.

In addition to the immediate measures to address the current dire situation in Shakahola area in Kilifi County, the Commission recommends the following:

  1. Community engagement: The government should work closely with local communities to promote awareness of the dangers of religious extremism and cultism. This can be done through community outreach programs, town hall meetings, and other forms of engagement. KNCHR urges the community to cooperate with the authorities and provide any information that could lead to the arrest and prosecution of the culprits.
  2. Strengthening security agencies: The security agencies should be equipped with the necessary resources and training to effectively combat religious extremism and cultism. This includes providing them with modern equipment, training in intelligence gathering and analysis to avoid lapses, and enhancing their capacity to respond to emergencies.
  3. Inter-agency coordination: There should be better coordination among the various security agencies to ensure that they work together effectively in addressing the issue of religious extremism and cultism. This can be achieved through joint training exercises, information sharing, and regular community engagements.

Finally, the Commission calls on anyone with information and human rights concerns relating to the mass killings in the Shakahola area to share through SMS-22359, Email- complaint@knchr.org WhatsApp 0798 849 871, and Toll-Free Line 0800 720 627.

Roseline DA Odede

Chairperson

Kenya National Commission on Human Rights

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