The Law Society of Kenya, Amnesty International Kenya, Kenya Human Rights Commission and HAKI Africa, note with deep concern the public statements made by the President of the Republic of Kenya H.E. Dr. William Ruto, issuing a warning to all those who have filed cases in Court over ownership and control of Mumias Sugar Company, to withdraw the said cases and gave them the following options;
- Wahame Kenya, ama
- Nitawaweka jela, ama
- Wasafiri waende mbinguni.
The words taken in their literal sense constitute a threat to persons who are currently involved in court cases over the ownership and control of Mumias Sugar Company. The strong warning comes against the backdrop of the reported abduction and subsequent release of Mr. Jaswant Singh Rai, one of the parties involved in court dispute, over Mumias Sugar Company. While the circumstances of his public abduction remain unknown, such statements lend credence to reports that his abduction must be related to the issues surrounding Mumias Sugar Company.
The unfortunate statement by the Head of State, call into question the Government’s commitment to upholding the right to life and protection of persons against cruel and inhumane treatment, as well as the right to equal treatment before the law and the right to live anywhere in the Republic of Kenya, and to own property. These rights are guaranteed to every person by the Constitution and cannot be taken away, unless as decreed by the laws of this Country. It is regrettable that the utterances by His Excellency, the President, seem to suggest that he can disregard constitutionally guaranteed rights, at whim.
The Constitution of Kenya guarantees every person the right to access courts and the right to have every dispute determined in accordance with the laws of the land. The declaration by the President therefore, appear to suspend the Constitution and substitute the rule of law, with the rule and wishes of the executive. This is clearly unconstitutional and an attempt to return the Country to the dark days of a repressive regime, that violated the human rights and freedom of the people of Kenya.
Human Rights Organisations are deeply concerned with the statements as they are consistent with a growing culture of impunity, as demonstrated by the increased misuse of police power during the last riots, as well as cases of police being used to aid and abet land grabbing. The statements also undermine the authority of the Court and signal a departure from use of legitimate dispute resolution mechanisms, in favour of abrogation of constitutional rights, threats and intimidation.
For several years, professional organisations, media houses, religious leaders, human rights organisations, and oversight state agencies have demanded an end to extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances. We have campaigned for police officers to be held accountable for enforced disappearances of Indian nationals Zulfiqar Khan, Zaid Kidwai and Kenyan driver Nicodemus Mwania, as well as 39-year-old Ethiopian businessman and Kenya resident, Samson Tecklemichael, abducted in broad daylight on 19 November 2021. Over the last three years, over, 150 families continue to grieve over the loss of their loved ones, who have disappeared or died in police custody.
The Law Society of Kenya is apprehensive that Advocates will be the next target, in an attempt to intimidate those who are representing the various parties in Court disputes, over Mumias Sugar Company. The Law Society of Kenya is also aware of the plans to cripple its operations, through unwarranted tax audit and investigations by the Kenya Revenue Authority. The Society remains resolutely steadfast in upholding the Rule of Law and will take all reasonable measures, to challenge any steps taken to intimidate advocates or the Society, from discharging its mandate.
We urge His Excellency, the President, to retrace his steps and reverse the growing culture of impunity and misuse of state raw power. We remind the President that indeed, he was the subject of such schemes and hence the need to return to the path of the Rule of Law and upholding the Constitution, as this is the only safe route to building our Country and keeping everyone safe.
We urge members of the Law Society of Kenya and other Human Rights Organisations to remain steadfast in the defence of the Constitution and the Rule of Law, in tribute and respect to those who fought for the liberation we currently enjoy through their blood and lives. We implore on the religious leaders and all Kenyans of goodwill, to come out and condemn the attempts to return our Country to the dark ages and departure from the rule of law.
Human Rights Organisations present, reiterate the need for the Government of Kenya to respect the Rule of Law and the Constitution. We take the opportunity to remind the State of the urgent need to accelerate the ratification and domestication of the United Nations International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances.
Kenya must take its rightful place within the community of nations as a Country that respects its law and is governed on the basis of respect of the universal fundamental rights and freedoms.