I. Introduction
Recently, a debate in Kenya has raged regarding whether persons arrested in the wake of the post election violence should be prosecuted or granted amnesty. These persons comprise mainly youths from Rift Valley, Nyanza, Coast, Central and Nairobi Provinces who are alleged to have committed diverse offences between December 27th and February 28th. There are conflicting figures as to how many youths are being held and the offences they are alleged to have committed. According to a statement attributed to Agriculture Minister Ruto, around 12,000 youths are being held in police and prison custody following the violence. However, the police dispute this figure and claim that less than 1000 people are in custody.
II. The different shades of arguments
1. One argument made, supporting the case for amnesty, is that by doing what the youths are alleged to have done, they contributed to the formation of the grand coalition government and it therefore does not make sense to have the youths languishing in jail while the politicians they ‘fought for’ enjoy power. It has also been argued that holding the youths in custody discriminates against the poor since politicians who mobilized the youths to those actions are themselves enjoying their liberty.
2. Another argument advanced is that ‘host communities’ are unlikely to cooperate with the return of the internally displaced people (IDPs) while their own sons are languishing in jail. It is a compelling argument from the point of view that the situation is still volatile in some of the regions with some locals threatening not to allow the IDPs to return. Indeed violence has broken out since the return of some IDPs in places like Molo. However this argument is countered by those who say that Kenyans have a right to property and to settle anywhere in the republic and the government should not be blackmailed into releasing alleged perpetrators on the pain of communities sabotaging the IDP return programme.
3. A third argument, rejecting amnesty, suggests that granting amnesty to the suspects would encourage impunity and threaten the rule of law. This would be tantamount to abolishing civilized society and going back to the rule of the jungle. This would also encourage organized violence.
III. Amnesty in other jurisdictions Continue reading

KNCHR documentation, investigation and analysis of human rights violations project

KNCHR documentation, investigation and analysis of human rights violations project

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) is mandated by its constitutive Act, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights Act No 9 of 2002, to promote and protect human rights. Pursuant to that mandate, the Commission is currently conducting investigations with a view to providing, through the voices of Kenyans and other sources, an impartial account of the post election violence and the events that have taken place since the announcement of the disputed presidential election results on 30th December 2007. We intend thereby to maintain an accurate record of this part of Kenya’s history as well as to identify perpetrators who must be held to account in order to end the culture of impunity. Continue reading

A CALL FOR JUSTICE PEACEFUL RESOLUTION – Maina Kiai / Njoki Ndungu – US House of Rep- 6 Feb 08

Maina Kiai’s statement to US House of Representatives

Maina Kiai, Chiarman of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, made a statement to the US House of Representatives on the political crisis in Kenya on 6th February 2008. Njoki Ndungu’s contribution is also included further down the page. Ms Ndungu is the CEO of the Center for Legal Information and Communication, Kenya.


1. Thank you for this opportunity to discuss the crisis in Kenya. My name is Maina Kiai and I am the Chairperson of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR), an independent state body charged with protecting and promoting human rights in Kenya. Previously, I served as founding Executive Director of the Kenya Human Rights Commission, a non-profit organization based in Kenya; Africa Director at Amnesty International in London; Africa Director at the International Human Rights Law Group (now Global Rights) based here in Washington DC; and Research Fellow at TransAfrica Forum also here in Washington DC. I speak on behalf of the KNCHR, as well as for Kenyans for Peace through Truth and Justice (KPTJ), a coalition bringing together more than 50 human rights, legal and governance groups in Kenya.

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Kenyan Elections Observers’ Log – KPTJ

Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice
Kenyan Elections Observers’ Log:

the cost of anomalies, malpractices and illegalities noted to voters and their votes

Press Statement

KNCHR – Truth, Justice & Reconcilation Commission

Nairobi,l 4thF ebruary2 008

The political crisis in Kenya: A call for justice & peaceful resolution- Maina Kiai – Feb 08

The political crisis in Kenya: A call for justice & peaceful resolution

Pambazuka News


Maina Kiai

Maina Kiai makes an impassioned plea for seriousness and commitment from all actors in the pursuit for a resolution to Kenya’s political crisis

Kenya is at a cross-road that will mean either the complete disintegration of Kenya or the beginning of a new, more democratic, sustainable nation suited to the needs and aspirations of the Kenyan people in the 21st Century. In a deeply painful and costly manner–in terms of lives lost and destruction wrought—the crisis in Kenya has given the country a unique opportunity to move forward in a way that we have been advocating for the last 20 years. In a sense, Kenya is at its “civil war” moment that the US was at in 1861. Just as that war was pivotal in establishing and solidifying the democratic credentials of the US, this moment could lead Kenya to much greater heights if properly handled both domestically and internationally.

In this context, the mediation currently going on under the leadership of Kofi Annan, Graca Machel and Ben Mkapa is the last best chance for Kenya to move forward. Whatever can be done to keep the players at the table, and keep them there in good faith, is critical. And efforts that delay, or subvert the talks—whether through insensitive statements and actions or by trying to prolong the talks through acts of filibustering—must be condemned. Consistent regional and international pressure is necessary especially on the hardliners who think that the crisis will blow over. The consequences of the failure of the mediation efforts are too dire to imagine not just for Kenya but for the region.

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Kenyan Human Rights Activist Pinpoints Reforms to Resolve Crisis – Feb 08

Kenyan Human Rights Activist Pinpoints Reforms to Resolve Crisis

Pambazuka News


L. Muthoni Wanyeki

L. Muthoni Wanyeki, executive director of the Kenya Human Rights Commission, recently spoke to about a wide range of aspects of the crisis that erupted over Kenya’s disputed presidential election.

On the elections:

The position of my organization, and the coalition we’ve been working in, has been that the anomalies, malpractices, and illegalities witnessed with respect to the counting and tallying of the presidential vote were substantial enough to alter the outcomes… You have to understand that Kibaki may not be in office legitimately or legally.

On forms of violence:

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