Anger as State shuts down another NGO in crackdown


Kenya Human Rights Commission Executive Director George Kegoro (centre), lawyer Harun Ndumbi (left) and activist Maina Kiai (right) hold hands after addressing journalists in Nairobi yesterday. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

A UN agency and an international rights group accused the Government of targeting groups critical of its actions.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein criticised the action taken against African Centre for Open Governance (AfriCOG) and Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC).

Meru Governor-elect Kiraitu Murungi, on his Twitter, said: “We formed KHRC in 1994 with Dr Mutunga and Prof Mutua while in Exile. De-registering it at this time is ill-advised #KHRC.”

The Law Society of Kenya said the NGO board’s decision to de-register KHRC and AfriCOG was illegal and asked acting Interior CS Fred Matiang’i to rescind the move.

The decision to close the two organisations was communicated by Fazul Mohamed, the executive director of Non-Governmental Organisations Co-ordination Board.

They were accused of failing to register and operating illegal bank accounts.

Hussein also condemned calls to have AfriCOG directors and members arrested.

“The high commissioner wants civil society and media to be allowed to work without hindrance or fear of retaliation,” the statement said.

Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International deputy regional director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, said: “The NGO Coordination Board’s decision must be seen for what it really is - a cynical attempt to discredit human rights organisations. This is an unlawful and irresponsible move in this critical post-election period.”

Kagari added: “This assault on human rights groups must be halted immediately. Kenyan authorities must rein in on the NGO Coordination Board and not allow such grotesque witch-hunts to take place.”

Activist Maina Kiai, the co-director at InformAction Kenya said: “You tell us to go to court but de-register the people who can go to court. Government needs to decide if it wants non-violent redress.”

The notice to close down AfriCOG came a day after similar action was taken against one of the country’s oldest civil society group, KHRC.

The two were among civil society organisations that teamed up with the Opposition to oppose the election of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto in 2013.

But their application seeking to nullify that election was rejected by the Supreme Court.

The NGO board yesterday ordered AfriCOG to cease its operations in what appears a calculated attack on the civil society by the Government.

Mohamed has written to DC boss Ndegwa Muhoro, asking him to move with speed and close the organisations down and arrest their officials.

But Mr Kiai, who is also AfriCOG’s board member, accused the Government of unwillingness to have a peaceful legal redress for those not satisfied with the election results.

“Once you close the avenue for legal and peaceful nonviolent redress, you open a can of worms and the State needs to be very clear on what it wants to do. And this is State’s decision not ours,” said Kiai.

He said civil society groups had consistently pointed out inconsistencies in the outcome of last week’s General Election.