General elections were held on 27 December. On 30 December the Electoral Commission of Kenya announced that President Mwai Kibaki had won the presidential election over opposition candidate Raila Odinga. Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) won a large majority of parliamentary seats over Mwai Kibaki’s Party of National Unity (PNU) and other parties. Election observers questioned the credibility of the counting and tallying of the presidential vote.
The government of Mwai Kibaki continued to face widespread criticism over its failure to prosecute senior government officials involved in major corruption scandals.
There was widespread violence before, during and after the general elections. Following the announcement on 30 December of the disputed results of the presidential vote, hundreds of people were killed, houses and property were burned by groups of armed youths across the country and thousands of people were internally displaced as a result of the violence.
- On 7 September, Flora Igoki Tera, a parliamentary candidate in Meru district, Central Kenya, was attacked by a gang of three armed men. She was beaten, forced to swallow human faeces and warned to keep out of politics. Police stated that investigations were ongoing but no one had been prosecuted by the end of the year.
- In December, tens of people were killed, hundreds of homes burnt and over 16,000 people displaced in the Kuresoi area of Molo district after attacks by armed gangs thought to have links with politicians. The area witnessed similar violence in the run-up to the 1992 and 1997 general elections. The violence continued despite the deployment of additional security officers. Although police stated that investigations were under way, there were no reports of prosecutions by the end of the year.
Impunity – human rights violations by police
Allegations of human rights violations by the police persisted, including reports of torture and unlawful killings. The authorities failed to investigate these allegations or ensure police accountability.
On 30 December, police shot and killed dozens of people in different parts of Kenya during protests against alleged fraud in the general elections held three days earlier.
Between June and October, police shot and killed hundreds of individuals in the course of security operations against members of the banned Mungiki group, after the Minister for Internal Security ordered a crackdown on Mungiki members and issued a “shoot-to-kill” order. Mungiki members allegedly killed tens of people, including police officers, in Nairobi and central Kenya, some of whom were beheaded.
Throughout the year, police shot dead criminal suspects in different parts of the country instead of arresting them. Calls by local and international civil society for the government to investigate dozens of such killings were ignored.
Refugees and asylum-seekers
The Kenyan government announced the closure of the Kenya-Somalia border on 3 January, following the resurgence of armed conflict between the Ethiopia-backed Somali Transitional Federal Government and the Council of Somali Islamic Courts (COSIC). The Kenyan government announced that it had closed the border in order to stop the movement of COSIC fighters into Kenya.
The government forcibly returned hundreds of asylum-seekers to Somalia after the border closure. Following the border closure, thousands of people attempting to flee the conflict in Somalia were unable to cross into Kenya, and were highly vulnerable to human rights abuses by parties to the Somali conflict. The border closure also restricted humanitarian access to internally displaced people on the Somali side of the border.
‘War on terror’
At least 140 people (nationals of at least 17 different countries, including Kenya) were arrested by Kenyan authorities between December 2006 and February 2007 as they tried to enter Kenya from Somalia. They were detained in several police stations in Nairobi and in Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. Most detainees were held for weeks without charge and some were reportedly tortured or otherwise ill-treated. Some were allegedly beaten by the Kenyan police and forced to undress before being photographed. They were not allowed any contact with their relatives. They were not allowed to claim asylum and were denied access to UNHCR.
In January and February, at least 85 detainees were unlawfully transferred – without recourse to any legal process – to Somalia and then on to Ethiopia, along with other people detained by Ethiopian troops in Somalia. More than 40 were still detained incommunicado and in secret in Ethiopia at the end of 2007. The Kenyan government maintained at the end of the year that no Kenyan citizen was unlawfully transferred.
- Abdi Mohammed Abdillahi, a Kenyan citizen of Somali heritage whose family is in Kenya, was arrested at Liboi in north-eastern Kenya on the Somalia border in early January after fleeing from Mogadishu. He was detained at Garissa police station and later at various police stations in Nairobi. His family said that in mid-January they visited him at Karen police station in Nairobi and were assured by police that he would be released following interrogation. On 20 January he was transferred by the Kenyan government on a chartered flight to Somalia. He was reportedly held at Mogadishu International Airport in Somalia in late January and in a detention facility in Ethiopia in February. By the end of 2007 he was still believed to be in detention in Ethiopia.
Violence against women
Women and girls continued to face widespread violence. Despite the passage in 2006 of the Sexual Offences Act, media and research reports indicated high levels of rape, child sexual abuse and domestic violence. The risk of violence and sexual abuse was particularly high among girls orphaned by AIDS. Most cases of sexual violence were committed by people known to the victims within the family and community.
Freedom of expression
A revised Media Bill came into effect in November. The new law seeks to monitor and regulate the media through a 13-member Media Council, with authority to grant and withdraw the accreditation of journalists. The original Bill contained a clause forcing editors to disclose their sources if their reports become the subject of court cases, but a national and international outcry forced its removal.
- On 7 January, a photographer with the Daily Nation newspaper was beaten by the President’s bodyguards as he attempted to take pictures of the President during a church service in Nairobi.
- In March, a court ordered Mburu Muchoki, the editor of a tabloid weekly, The Independent, to serve a one-year prison sentence after failing to pay a fine of Kshs 500,000 (US$7,000) following a private criminal libel prosecution by the Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister. The journalist served three months of the one-year sentence and was released under a presidential pardon in June. His appeal against the verdict had not been heard by the time of his release.
- As political tension mounted following the disputed presidential election results, on 30 December the government banned live broadcasting by the Kenyan media. The statutory Media Council criticized the ban as violating the freedom of the media.
- The government continued to target parts of the independent media. In April, just over one year after it raided the Standard Group’s office and presses, the government issued written instructions to the state sector to cancel any advertising they were placing with the Standard Group media.
Internally displaced people
More than 100,000 people, approximately 20,000 families, were displaced in Mt. Elgon district near the Kenya-Uganda border following clashes over land. Hundreds of people suffered injuries and about 200 were reportedly killed as a result of gunshot wounds, cuts and burns sustained during attacks.
By the end of 2007, the government had not fulfilled its 2006 pledge to release national guidelines on evictions, a pledge issued in response to the forced eviction of tens of thousands of residents in forest areas and informal settlements in the past. It also failed to impose a moratorium on enforced evictions until the guidelines were in place.
In October the government reportedly announced that it would resettle and compensate more than 10,500 people who had been evicted from Mau forest in 2006, although the number of people evicted was thought to have been much higher.
Courts continued to impose the death penalty, although no executions were reported.
There was no progress towards the abolition of the death penalty. On 1 August Parliament defeated a motion seeking to abolish the death penalty.
Amnesty International visits/reports
- Amnesty International delegates visited Kenya in January, March, May and July.
- Kenya: Denied refuge – the effect of the closure of the Kenya/Somalia border on thousands of Somali asylum-seekers and refugees (AFR 32/002/2007)
- Kenya: Thousands of Somali refugees and asylum-seekers denied refuge (AFR 32/004/2007)
- Kenya: Nowhere to go – forced evictions in Mau forest (AFR 32/006/2007)
- Kenya/Ethiopia/Somalia: Horn of Africa – unlawful transfers in the “war on terror” (AFR 25/006/2007)
- Kenya: Police operations against Mungiki must comply with Kenya’s obligations under international human rights law (AFR 32/008/2007)
- Kenya: Renewed appeal for humanitarian access to Somalia (AFR 32/009/2007)
- Oral Statements to the 41st Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (IOR 63/004/2007)
- Kenya: Amnesty International concerned at police killings in election protests (31 December 2007)