NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 25 – The office of the Attorney General has been directed to appear in a case where Kenyan traders and fishermen are seeking to have the Ugandan soldiers removed from disputed Migingo Island in Lake Victoria.
The more than 1,000 Kenyan traders and fishermen have sued the National Security Council, the Defence Council, Kenya Defence Forces, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Interior, Director of Public Prosecutions and the Attorney General.
The directive by the court follows failure by some of the legal representatives of the State departments to appear in court on January 24 when the matter was scheduled for hearing.
Justice Chacha Mwita has ordered that the matter be mentioned on February 7, for purposes of giving directions on hearing.
The petitioners argue that concerned government security agencies have for years failed to take action despite having received reliable information from them regarding the violation of human rights at the island by the foreign soldiers.
They want the court to order the responsible government department to issue a declaration that the Uganda security personnel are ‘personae non grata’ in the Island.
Dan Durell Alila on behalf of the 1,008 traders and fishermen, claims in court papers that the victims and the general public continue to suffer under the “unlawful and oppressive activities of Uganda security personnel based at Migingo Island in Migori County.”
“All this has been happening while the Kenyan security agencies have elected to remain inactive, passive and unconcerned. The said unlawful and oppressive activities have been in force since 2004 with devastating economic impact on the lives of the marginalized complainants and the general public.”
The activities have also driven many into a State of desperation, destitution and great suffering.”
Alila says that the government security agencies breached their constitutional obligation by failing to protect women who were arrested by the Uganda security personnel, “raped, and subjected to degrading treatment including corporal punishment, at a time when they were trading at the Island.”
The 154 women, who were regular traders, were also deprived of their fish, money and other property with impunity, on various dates since the Ugandan soldiers were deployed to the island by their government according to Alila.
The petitioner further says that in the period between 2010 and 2015, the Kenyan government security agencies also failed in their constitutional obligation to protect the citizens when they ignored complaints by about 854 fishermen who reported they were being harassed by the Ugandan security personnel.
“No intervention came forth from Kenyan administrators and security officers at Migingo Island where the incidents took place and were reported,” Alila in the court papers says.
The victims are seeking a declaration that the Kenyan security agencies failed to protect their rights which are enshrined in the constitution.
They also want to be compensated for the losses they have incurred.