We don't fund terror groups, envoys say

Non-Governmental Organizations(NGOs) Co-ordination Board Executive Director Fazul Mohammed at Co-operative Bank House on Thursday, October 29th, 2015. The Annual NGO Sector report states that NGOs have injected 140 billion Kenyan shillings into the economy; out of the 140 billion, 23 billion cannot be accounted for due to misappropriation of funds. The government has threatened to deregister 957 NGOs if they do not provide evidence of how the funds were used.[PHOTO: ANGELA MAINA/ STANDARD]

Embassies and high commissions from nine Western countries have come out to fight the notion that their countries are funding local civil society groups that are involved in terror-related activities.

In a terse statement to media houses, the United States of America, The Netherlands, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Denmark, the United Kingdom and Canada have, at the same time, welcomed the decision by the Government of Kenya to suspend a notice by the NGOs Coordination Board to cancel the registration certificates of 959 Kenyan NGOs.

"We underscore, once again, our strong and ongoing support for a vibrant, free, and independent civil society in Kenya," they said adding that the original decision announced by the board raised serious concerns and questions about regulation of the sector.

They reiterated that as donors, they require detailed financial reports and regular audits from NGOs that they partner with, and insist on transparency and accountability.

"We have no evidence that NGOs to which we provide donor funds are supporting or funding terrorism or are engaged in other illegal activity," they said.

In a move seen as solidarity with the alternative voices in the Kenyan socio-political and economic stage, the envoys said their governments strongly support the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association for civil society as is guaranteed in the Constitution of Kenya.

Firm belief

They expressed their firm belief that a strong civil society is vital to protecting fundamental rights, strengthening democratic institutions, building prosperity and ensuring security.

According to them, NGOs provide a wide range of essential services to Kenyans including in healthcare and education.

"We again urge the Government of Kenya to implement, as soon as possible, the Public Benefit Organisations Act of 2013, which provides an excellent framework for the regulation of civil society organisations while at the same time ensuring transparency and accountability in the sector's work," they stressed.

Last week, Executive Director of the NGO Coordination Board Fazul Muhammed had issued a two-week ultimatum to the non-compliant NGOs to put their house in order or risk being deregistered.

The board has initiated the process of deregistering 957 non-compliant NGOs and has forwarded the list of the NGOs poised for deregistration to the Central Bank of Kenya and the Kenya Bankers Association to freeze their bank accounts.

Among the affected organisations was the Kenya Human Rights Commission.