Violation of human rights, dignity points to impunity, broken system

Some of the bodies that were exhumed from shallow graves by police officers at Shakahola in Malindi, Kilifi County. [Marion Kithi, Standard]

The republic suffers intensely when there is a breakdown of national values and principles of governance. The Constitution ascribes great premium to national values and principles of governance. Kenya is a multiparty democratic State founded on national values and principles of governance. These bind all State organs, State officers, public officers, and all persons whenever they apply or interpret the Constitution; enact, apply, or interpret any law; or make or implement public policy decisions. The three State governance organs, the Executive, Parliament, and the Judiciary are supposed to operate independently and interdependently in coordination to check and balance each other ensuring a healthy balance of power on the basis of the principle of separation of powers. Coordination within and between these organs is key to ensure seemly State operations. For example, the Parliament is supposed to make laws, provide oversight over national budgets and spending and approve them, and provide other approvals such as the use of military inside Kenya by the Executive, imposition of states of emergency, or the appointments of State officers.

The primary duties of the Executive include the defense and security of property, people, and the State and the delivery of services, in a transparent and accountable manner. The Judiciary is concerned with dispute resolution, dispensing justice, protecting human rights, legal, and constitutional interpretation. The powers of these organs are supposed to be held in trust and exercised for the greater good of all Kenyans. These imply that the persons bestowed with the honour and privilege to serve in the three organs of governance possess the competencies befitting the offices and practice and ascribe to the national values and principles of governance.

The national values and principles include patriotism, national unity, sharing and devolution of power, the rule of law, democracy, and participation of the people. They also include human dignity, equity, social justice, inclusiveness, equality, human rights, non-discrimination, and protection of the marginalized; good governance, integrity, transparency, and accountability; and sustainable development. Yet, recent events in the news and national politics manifest a crisis of governance and leadership. The government repeated claims that the country is broke and that we are struggling to meet our financial obligations, do not inspire confidence. Governors are complaining that they have not received funds from the national government and are likely to shut down counties. We are yet to receive clarification or reassurance from the Treasury Cabinet Secretary.

The widespread lawlessness and violation of human dignity and human rights are indicative of impunity and the collapse of the rule of law. We are shell-shocked by revelations of killings and mass graves in Malindi, which indicate that this has been going on for years. Those charged with the administration of justice and responsibility for our security appear overwhelmed. The Interior Cabinet Secretary, the Inspector General of the Police, and the Director of Public Prosecution are confusing us completely, yesterday they say, it is mass murder, today, it is terrorism, and now its crimes against humanity and genocide. Coupled with this confusion is the treatment of the media, human rights activists, and the family. This is not just a crisis of governance and leadership, it is something more sinister. We are emboldened by impunity, there is no retribution for anything done in the name of God. Swindlers, bandits, criminals, and fraudsters are all using religion to rob their followers, some even rape or harm them in the name of exorcising demons and performing miracles. Parliament must raise up to the occasion and regulate faiths, although it is mainly some pastors/preachers that appear to have gone rogue. We have known that many churches are business ventures with little spiritual nourishment happening there. We are experiencing a severe crisis of morality as a community and in leadership including church leadership. This must be arrested before we all perish.

Finally, witnessing police tear gas canisters in a residential area where the offices of the Jubilee Party are located at unarmed politicians and their supporters called by one faction against another faction in clear partisan conduct is very sad. What was sadder was watching the President pleading for justice and peace of mind while asking the police to do their job without being used.