NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 4 – The Kenyan government needs to show more commitment and political will in protecting the rights of Kenyans currently detained in Uganda over terrorism charges.
According to Hassan Omar Hassan of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR), the government needs to petition its Ugandan counterparts to ensure that the cases against the Kenyans being held in Uganda over terrorism related charges are expedited.
Mr Hassan told capital news that it was annoying for officials in government to snub an issue as vital as human rights of its nationals.
“There needs to be more political interest in this matter because first their rendition was done illegally. There is a general realisation that the Kenyan government is not firm in defending the rights of its own citizens,” he said.
“The Kenyan government needs to protest over the continued detention of Kenyans without any charge who are being accused of participation in the Kampala bombings,” he added.
Mr Hassan said the civil society had done its mandate within the borders of Kenya and only the government had a voice strong enough for the Ugandan government to act quickly.
In the meantime George Kegoro, the Executive Director of International Commission of Jurists (Kenyan Chapter) told capital news that the cases of the Kenyans being held in Uganda will take a little longer because election petitions have not been heard and determined.
The Ugandan law requires that election petitions take precedence over other ongoing cases.
Mr Kegoro said that the ICJ had already petitioned the Ugandan Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki, to ensure speedy and fair trial of the suspects.
“Fair trial includes speedy trial and I met the Chief Justice and he assured me that the judiciary will expedite the hearing of those cases but they still have to dispense with election petitions after their election,” he said.
We are largely helpless because the Kenyan government decided to hand over its nationals to another country but we will try to urge the Kenya government to put pressure on the Ugandan government and ourselves to put pressure through organisations such as the Commonwealth lawyers.
The trial could be further delayed because one more suspects was extradited from Tanzania to face charges of terrorism and murder and still has to go through the preliminary trial process in the same court.
Mr Kegoro decried the counter-terrorism mechanisms deployed by East African nations in response to terrorism as being way below the international human rights standards
“Serious transgressions against human rights have been committed by governments in the name of the fight against terrorism in the whole of East Africa and these countries work together like in the case of Kenya illegally extraditing its citizens in Uganda,” he said.
Both the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and the ICJ are in agreement that the continued violations by government in their various counter terrorism mechanisms will not help fight terrorism.
They said that the counter terrorism mechanisms will only serve to radicalise the Muslim community since they create a feeling of being linked to crimes that some of them have not committed.