NAIROBI, Kenya Aug 9 – The government’s human rights watchdog on Sunday accused the state security agencies of laxity in dealing with insecurity in the Upper Eastern region and is now challenging them to step up vigilance where cases of cattle rustling and banditry is rife.
The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) condemned the recent killings in Isiolo, Samburu, Tigania, Igembe, Garbatula and Laisamis and lamented that national security forces are yet to take decisive action to arrest bandits and mop up illegal firearms in the area.
KNCHR Commission Vice-Chairman Hassan Omar Hassan said:” Insecurity in the region has brought development to a near standstill and we need to note that when people already have very little, the impact of insecurity in terms of the clashes takes them back to step one.”
“The government must nip this crisis in the bud,” he added. “What we have seen is a characteristic operational module of government where they will wait for a situation to deteriorate and then undertake a military kind of operation while it could have been averted.”
Mr Omar said residents and tourism stakeholders in the area were concerned by the rise of insecurity which they claim has been fuelled by increasing allegations that cattle rustling have now been commercialised.
“Moreover the effect of this insecurity has negatively impacted on the income earning opportunities for local government from game reserves thus paralysing the operation of Isiolo County Council. This insecurity is further aggravated by alleged militia harboured in the park which endangers safety of the tourists,” he said.
Speaking while releasing provisional findings of the Commission in the affected areas, Mr Omar said more than 70 people including security agents have been killed and over 5,000 livestock stolen since December 2007.
The Commission also produced letters between the Wildlife Minister and his Tourism counterpart, where the latter was concerned with the large herds of livestock in the Shaba National Reserve.
At the same time, Commissioner Fatuma Adan Dullo alleged a cover up by the local provincial administration and other security agents to make the situation appear less serious than it really is.
“What our findings discovered is that the government agents are trying to suppress the situation but you can’t run away form a problem. It’s the responsibility of the government to use its machinery on the ground to deal with cattle rustling.”
“We have seen a precedence where the government has used its chiefs at the grassroots especially where cattle rustling are prone, why can’t they do that? I think those at the grassroots are sleeping on the job,” she said.
In a 13-point recommendation the Commission called for the funding of local peace committees and for the government to give local peace declarations such as the Modogashe and Garissa declarations a legal framework and enforcement mechanism. The Commission also recommends the disarming and dismantling of all existing militia groups within the region.