In early April, Journalists for Justice, a non-governmental project on media, commissioned Ipsos Synovate to conducted focus group discussions across Kenya to assess the needs of victims and survivors of the post-election violence of 2007/08. I attended these discussions.
For each area, there were two groups, one for men and another for women. What followed were the most heart wrenching narrations, graphic illustrations from a group of people politicians dared to claim have moved on.
One by one, survivors recounted the events of 2008, before the elections, during and after. The two hours that were allocated for the focus group discussions seemed completely insufficient to fully address and express the sort of needs that the survivors who were gathered felt were imperative.
At times, the conversation would get so charged with emotion that it felt like one could cut open the air and hate and anger would pour out.
While there may indeed be some victims who have forgiven their tormentors, it is in general a completely inaccurate statement that any victim of politically instigated violence in Kenya has simply “moved on.”
Actually, many victims have been unable to recover in any form, primarily because the government and its state agencies have implicitly failed to provide any sort of humanitarian assistance or restitution towards their recovery after the events of 2007/08.
This egregious state of affairs is the salient factor behind two public interest cases filed at the High Court of Kenya. The first case is a petition in which eight survivors of SGBV and 4 civil society organizations are suing the Attorney General and 5 other senior government officials for failing to protect them and provide assistance during the PEV of 2008.
The second case is a constitutional application in which Internally Displaced Persons are seeking restitution from the court because the government, they assert, had provided almost no assistance whatsoever to nearly 314,000 IDPS despite various claims by Cabinet Secretary for Devolution and Planning Anne Waiguru that all registered Internally Displaced Persons had been re-settled.
It appears the political objective of the Jubilee coalition may be to diminish the gravity of the situation as regards the victims and survivors of the 2008 PEV, and to challenge the credibility of the cases at the International Criminal Court based on that erasure of victims.
The general logic behind this was “if there are no victims or if the victims have moved on then the cases have no merit.”
The condition of the victims remains so dire, that in a letter to the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Common Legal Representative for Victims in Case 1 at the ICC, Mr. Fergal Gaynor, urged Dr. Chaloka Beyani to call upon the government in the strongest terms possible to meet their obligations towards IDPs (see download below).
For seven years, the government of Kenya has wholly ignored the plight of 314,000 IDPS from the post-election violence, those of whom were considered “integrated”.
By integration what the government means is that these IDPs were temporarily at the IDP camps after which they were transported to what was considered to be their “ancestral homes.”
For thousands of Luo, Luhya and Kisii people this meant that they were transported to the Western and Nyanza regions of Kenya and dumped at market centres, churches and other public places.
Many of these IDPs had not visited these areas in years if at all. After this relocation by government, no further assistance was provided to these people.
As a result of the government’s actions, the ethnic cleansing objectives set out by militia and politicians who instigated the post-election violence were successfully accomplished.
There are now entire regions of Kenya previously considered hotspots for violence in which you will not find any member of other ethnic communities, parts of Kenya where “foreigners” are not able to live.
In its recommendations on displaced persons in its 2008 report, Human Rights Watch stated that the Government of Kenya should “ensure that internally displaced persons are protected from further violence regardless of their ethnicity and location, and ensure that the fundamental and social and economic rights of all those displaced by recent and previous events are met, including through equitable access to food, health, and education services.”
In his State of the Nation address presented before Parliament on March 27th 2014, President Uhuru Kenyatta asserted that:
“In September 2013, the government began the implementation of a cash payment programme for all pending cases of IDPs that had not been resettled so far, a total of 8298 households. A total of 777 have received cash payments of Sh400000 per household, totalling Sh3.3 billion. The exercise continues. This settlement was followed by a concerted effort by government that focused on peace building among communities.”
The most noticeable inconsistency in this statement is the fact that the figures mentioned by the President do not add up. 777 households receiving Sh400,000 each comes to Sh310,800,000 and not Sh3.3billion. The difference represents a massive shortfall of 2,989,200,000.
Further, one cannot tell which IDPs the President is referring to, whether they are Mau evictees or post-election violence IDPs.
There is a clear lack of political will to provide any form of justice to victims of post-election violence, and along with this, the decision to churn propaganda concerning the situation of the victims only causes further harm.
There seems to be no end to the victimization of the survivors of the post-election violence by government. Given this situation, it is indeed quite necessary to turn to litigation on behalf of the victims in order to seek what is their constitutional right.