Kilifi MCAs urge state to establish memorial centre at Shakahola

Homicide detectives carry some of the bodies that were exhumed from shallow mass graves within Shakahola Forest. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

Kilifi County Assembly Ad Hoc Committee has asked the government to establish a memorial centre at Shakahola to bury or preserve bodies that have been rejected by their families as a result of traditional and cultural stigmatisation.

Appearing before the Senate Ad Hoc Committee Investigating the proliferation of religious organisations in the country and Shakahola deaths, the MCAs said that the government should build a police station at Shakahola.

County Assembly Ad Hoc Committee Chairperson Benson Karisa (Ganze Ward) told the Senate committee led by Tana River Senator Danson Mungatana that the national government should expand the capacity of the Forensics Department to allow for speedy processing of body identification and DNA matching.

“The government should consider bailing out the 50,000 acres Chakama Ranch after the expiry of the lease period and all other ranches within Kilifi county and revert back the ownership to the community to avert an occurrence similar to Shakahola massacre,” said Karisa.

He recommended that the relevant authorities such as Ethic and Anti-Corruption Commission, Independent Police Oversight Authority, Office of the Directorate of public Prosecution and the Judicial Service Commission should institute disciplinary action against government officials whose acts and omissions aided the Shakahola massacre.

Karisa said that to guarantee full realization of Article 27(6) of the Constitution the government should come up with a regulatory body to oversee the registration and conduct of religious institutions and criminalize any church or person whose way of worship abuses the rights of women and children.

The County Assembly Ad Hoc Committee that is also investigating the Shakahola massacre called for proper coordination of national and county governments on security matters and  implementation of section 41 of the National Police Service Act of 2011.

“There is need to establish and manage proactive systems, policies and legislation on preparedness and disaster management both at the national and county level and enhance budgetary allocations for disaster management,” said Karisa.

The County Assembly Ad Hoc Committee recommended that the national and county governments should establish functional rescue centres and operational counselling centre for victims of the Shakahola massacre.

Karisa said that the community should be sensitized on vigilance and community policing and be encouraged to report any unusual occurrences and suspicious persons to the relevant authorities.

The County Assembly Ad Hoc Committee called on the Communication Authority of Kenya to regulate and censor the content of religious teaching on television.

Karisa said that the national and county government should develop mechanism for the implementation of witness protection policies.

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