, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 23 – Civil Society groups and the government human rights watchdog have accused local authorities of allowing Uganda to illegally detain Kenyans, following the July 11 Kampala bombings.
Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) Executive Director Muthoni Wanyeki said there were 13 Kenyans including human rights activist Al-Amin Kimathi who were being held in Kampala following the attacks.
Nine of them were arrested in Kenyan and extradited to Uganda in hasty circumstances.
Ms Wanyeki argued that the Ugandan government did not follow the laid down legal procedures before detaining them.
“It is not that we mind that people are investigating the bombings; obviously they need to determine who was responsible for all those deaths. What we are objecting to is the manner in which these nine Kenyans have become involved in the case because it is illegal. There is an extradition process that was not obtained,” she said.
A lawyer who spoke to Capital News on Wednesday explained that the manner in which they were nabbed and charged, disregarded the Extradition (Contiguous and Foreign Countries) Act.
Hassan Lakicha argued that the Ugandan government should have issued a warrant of arrest and communicated its intention to Kenya.
“This should have been done through the Ugandan High Commission which would then inform the Attorney General who would take the matter to the Magistrates’ Courts. It would be up to the Magistrate’s Court to determine whether or not Kenya would accept or decline the request by Uganda,” he explained.
He added that the Kenyan court would then determine whether the said Kenyans would stand a fair trial in Uganda and whether the crimes preferred against them were in accordance with the Extradition Act.
“There are 22 crimes that fall in this category including: murder, manslaughter, kidnapping, bigamy, assault rape, offenses committed at the sea, counterfeit, fraud, arson, and others so in this case, Uganda must disclose the offences that the Kenyans are accused of before Kenya takes any action,” he said.
Mr Lakicha also explained that it would take 15 days for Kenya to determine what action to take: “When Kenya gets a copy of the warrant of arrest, it will hold the suspected Kenyans for 15 days pending further investigation. However this period can go past the 15-day deadline.”
A commissioner with the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights Hassan Omar also asked Kenyan authorities to exert pressure on the Ugandan government and ensure the Kenyans’ release.
“Our government cannot take a stand when it comes to violations of Kenyans’ rights outside the borders. Every time a Kenyan’s rights are abused, the government says it will write a letter to the respective government. For how long shall we write letters? The government simply needs to start acting,” he said.
Mr Kimathi’s family also expressed shock at his dentition saying he did not commit any of the atrocities levelled against him. His wife, Farida Saad, said her husband had simply gone to Uganda to defend the rights of those who were being charged with the bombings.
“He is being accused of the same thing he is trying to defend. I know my husband and he has never been a terrorist; you would know a terrorist in the house,” she said.
Elsewhere, the Kenyan National Muslim leadership argued that the arrested Kenyans should be released to face justice in their country. They also accused the government of neglecting the suspects.
“We stand here stating that these security organs are testing the patience of Muslims to the extreme, they are deliberately provoking Kenyans and Muslims into a state of desperateness, anguish and anger,” a statement signed by leaders of seven Muslim organisations said.
The leaders said they were particularly concerned that security agencies in Kenya were arresting their own citizens and handing them over to authorities in Uganda without “justifiable reasons.”
“The Muslim leadership shall not play cat and mouse games this time with the government over their denials. We are the citizens and they must act within the law,” the statement added.