A State agency has faulted Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki over the manner he is conducting the security operation in six bandit-prone counties.
Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) raised issue with a recent order by Kindiki on residents of Turkana, Elgeyo Marakwet, Baringo, West Pokot, Samburu and Laikipia to vacate identified troubled areas within 24 hours “failure to which they will be treated as criminal elements.”
The commission was joining others, including the Law Society of Kenya (LSK), who have termed the order illegal and one which criminalizes innocent people.
Through its chair Roselyne Odede, KNCHR said the areas identified by the CS are civilians' places of residence and the net effect of the vacate order will have far-reaching negative effects on their rights. She said as a result of the order, a humanitarian crisis is building up in the areas.
“The question begs: Within a 24-hours ultimatum, where are these displaced civilians of the disturbed areas supposed to go?” Odede posed.
She said the civilians, who have been victims of banditry, are struggling to move out of the disturbed areas with nowhere to go, leading to mushrooming of overcrowded makeshift camps with zero access to water, food and sanitation services.
Odede also raised concerns with the impact of the order on vulnerable groups like the elderly, persons with disabilities, children, the sick and expectant women. She said added to the prevailing realities of drought, the relocation order will add to the victimisation of the groups.
“Schools in these areas have been closed indefinitely with the children having no recourse to their right to education. This situation on the ground, if not urgently checked, will quickly degenerate into a humanitarian crisis,” he said.
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The commission said the government should pursue national security in compliance with the law, democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms.
It said the government must also adhere to national and international humanitarian and human rights laws, principles and standards.
Odede demanded that the 24-hour ultimatum be “substantially extended” to ensure all civilians have been fully evacuated, that the security agencies guarantee the safety and security of all civilians in the identified areas and that government provides safe houses and spaces where the communities can temporarily relocate.
She also demanded that the government takes appropriate measures to ensure there will be no child denied their right to education through a seamless provision of alternative education centers in the affected areas and that healthcare services be prioritised to the communities in the affected areas.
“The security operation teams should leverage on the existing local administration structures for purposes of sharing information with members of the public on disturbed areas, relocation arrangements for populations being displaced from disturbed areas, and emergency support services,” she said.
Odede said the commission is monitoring the security operation pursuant to its constitutional obligation.
She urged residents of the affected areas to assist and cooperate with security agencies to bring an end to the perennial insecurity in the region.