Thursday, 27 December 2007
Electoral malpractices and human rights violations in campaigns are likely to impact negatively on the General Election today, says the Kenya Human Rights Commission. -Although concerns have been raised over rampant human rights violations and electoral malpractices, little has been done by relevant State institutions to address them. This has cast doubt on the fairness of the 2007 polls, the human rights NGO warns.
Written by Caroline Wafula, this article was first published in today´s issue of the independent Kenyan newspaper the Daily Nation. It has been edited for republication here by HRH F / Niels Jacob Harbitz.
The commission took issue with the fact that several laws that would have effectively prevented and punished the violations had been breached with impunity and no clear attempts had been made to enforce them. “The Penal Code, the Elections Offences Act and the Public Officer and Ethics Act are some laws that would have helped handle the violations if they had been implemented accordingly,” said Mr Tom Kagwe, a senior programme officer at the commission.
Executive director Muthoni Wanyeki said the commission had, through its election monitoring and response centre, been monitoring, documenting and responding to pre-election human rights violations in 79 constituencies. She said the Government had an unfair advantage on the campaign platform since it made use of public resources. The commission says voters’ security was not guaranteed, especially in clash-hit areas. This will lead to low voter turn-out and influence the outcome of the election both in the affected areas and nationally. Ms Wanyeki said the commission was compiling a comprehensive report on human rights violations and would release a comprehensive report to the public in January 2008.
“We however felt it important to share the statistics from our preliminary report for the months of October, November and part of December as we prepare to go to the polls tomorrow,” she explained. Findings in the commission’s preliminary report released to the Press indicate that 36 cases of political violence were reported where at least 20 people died as a result while more than 60 sustained injuries. Majority of the cases were reported in Rift Valley, Nyanza and Nairobi provinces. The 36 documented cases include use of abusive language and incitement of the public to violence, the report says. Abuse of public office and misuse of State resources were the majority of those reported.