NAO GARISSA MEMORIAL

Northern Advocacy, Heinrich Boll partner to commemorate Garissa University Memorial service

By Christine Muchira

Youth from Northern Advocacy Organization (NAO), in partnership with Heinrich Boll, on April 2nd 2016 held the Garissa University Memorial service.

The team spearheaded the healing process as they supported both the students by giving them sufficient publicity and aiding them in every way possible.

The Northern Advocacy Organization, a Non-Governmental Organization played an integral part in restoring normalcy in the school and the society in general.

In the wave of community profiling and stereotyping brought by the attack, this team of young men and women showed the world a different picture of the said community.

Being from the profiled community themselves, they spent four nights at the school and slept on the same beds the students were slain.

The day started with an early morning 5 km marathon flagged of by the majority leader in parliament where hundreds of people from all walks of life participated.

The marathon’s objective was to promote peaceful co-existence among the communities living in the region as well as the entire country’s population as many participants had traveled from other counties.

The event was held to commemorate the fateful day when gunmen attacked Garissa University on 2nd April 2015.

At around 5:30am, gunmen attacked and took 148 innocent lives (143 students, 3 soldiers, 2 police officers) and injured 79 before the Kenyan Defence Forces and other security agents killed the four attackers while the fifth one detonated his suicide vest.

Both Christian and Muslim leaders attended the event and emphasized on the need for tolerance and peaceful coexistence among people of different faith and ethnic background.

They extensively discussed the need for integration and harmonious existence denouncing the place of violent extremism and terror activities in the contemporary world.

The leaders boldly condemned terror attacks and strongly warned terror groups that they will not succeed in dividing Kenyans along religious lines.

They motivated communities not to be lured by the extremist groups.

During the event,the late Salah Farah was  commended for his heroism which was exhibited when he refused to be separated from his Christian brothers during the Mandera bus attack.

The Clerics condemned terror activities and dissociated Islam with terrorism.

In attendance were; the Ambassador of Somali to Kenya Jamal Mohamed, the Garissa County Governor Hon. Nadif Jama, the Deputy Governor, the leader of majority Hon. Aden Duale, the area MPs, women representative, local administration, representatives from office of the President; Department of Strategic Initiatives and development of Arid and semi-Arid regions and department of Cohesion, Peace and Conflict Resolution, local MCA’s, opinion leaders, religious leaders and members of the community.

An administrative police officer who survived the Garissa attack narrated how he got shot while saving students.

The principle of Garissa University, Prof. Ahmed Warfa was welcomed to the stage; he gave greetings from vice chancellor of Moi University and condolences massages he received from the institution of higher learning.

He emotionally recounted the happening of the dreadful day.

Prof Warfa termed the day as one of the darkest days in his life time.

He thanked both National and County governments for settling the funeral arrangements of the bereaved.

The professor pleaded to the government to fully fledge the institution as an entity on its own and enable it to offer all faculties, so that it can attract students from across Kenya.

Fafi Member of Parliament Hon. Elias Bare shill also attended the ceremony and he praised the work being done by the KDF soldiers in Somali.

He urged Kenyans to support the Government in the ‘Linda Nchi’ operation.

“Support the Government in the ‘Linda Nchi’ operation to put an end to the Al-Shabaab’s operations and reduce the likelihood of Kenya been attacked by the militia,” said Bare.

Speaking in the same forum Governor Nadhif, appreciated the security personnel who risked their lives saving students during the attack.

He applauded the youth for refusing to be radicalized and urged the media to help spread the gospel of peace and cohesion.

The Majority Leader, Mr.Duale gave credit to the youth for organizing and facilitating the memorial and urged media to stop being biased on their reports.

“Terrorism is a global threat, international media should not be biased on their reporting,” said Duale.

Duale further commended the Garissa community for the recovery action they put in place to overcome the attack and members of parliament for the solidarity action they portrayed in the assembly during attack.

He mentioned that the chatter for Garissa University was ready and that the next time the President will be visiting the North Eastern region he will come with it.

Duale further noted that the Government appointed Mr Mahmood Swaleh as the regional coordinator, equipping the police, DC, DO and chiefs with vehicles while involving communities in the fight against terrorism.

“Support the government in the operation undertaken by the Army in Somali,” added Duale.

Jamal Mohamed, Somali ambassador to Kenya thanked the Kenyan government for the continuous support in fight against Alshabab.

He mentioned that terrorism is a global menace that the international community needs to unite to defeat.

The Ambassador reassured the Kenyan Government that their Somali counterparts are doing all they can to stabilize and fight the terror group.

The leaders present informed the media that terrorism is a global vice which is not limited only to our nation and thus should not portray our country as the “hotbed of terror” as one of them had done in the past.

 

rwanda4

22nd Genocide commemoration in Rwanda

By Christine Muchira/Balqesa Abdi

President Kagame has asked Rwandans not to be distracted by anything, but continue to work hard towards transformation of Rwanda.

He was speaking at the 22nd commemoration of the genocide, where more than 1,000,000 Rwandans were killed during the 100-day period from April 7 to mid-July 1994, constituting as many as 70% of the Tutsi and 20% of Rwanda’s total population.

Every year during this period in Rwanda and in all its diplomatic missions across the world, events commonly known as Kwibuka meaning to remember in Kinyarwanda are organized in commemoration of the genocide.

During this time they pay tribute to those who perished in the Genocide, and carry out various activities to support genocide survivors and give hope to Rwanda and its citizens.

Musician singing Kwibuka Song during kwibuka night at Serena hotel, Kigali on 9th of April 2016.
Musician singing Kwibuka Song during kwibuka night at Serena hotel, Kigali on 9th of April 2016.

The President joined thousands of youth for the walk to remember, which kicked off from Parliament to Amahoro National Stadium where he addressed thousands of Rwandans, friends of Rwanda who were gathered for the commemoration night.

Northern Advocacy Organisation (NAO) together with friends of Rwanda were invited to Rwanda from 8th to 14th of April 2016 to show solidarity with the Rwanda people.

“I thank our youth for their demonstration of enthusiasm to move the country forward. This gives a lot of hope that as they grow, they will take their responsibilities seriously and our country will continue to be secure. I also thank friends of Rwanda who are with us along our journey of reconstruction,” said President Kagame.

He noted that it is not easy to express the grief in the hearts of Rwandans and that the lives lost were not just numbers but the most important thing is to work hard and change lives for the better.

“When we talk about one million people who lost lives due to bad ideology, we don’t just mean numbers; we talk about families, friends and relatives who made our society,” added Kagame.

The President called on Rwandans to continue working together in unity and improve their lives and their country and also protect their security.

“We have come a long way in the past 20 years together, with aim of building a better country that we all desire. Those who destroyed our country and killed our people, who are composed of Rwandans and foreigners, still have intentions to repeat and destroy what we have built,” said the President.

He warned that whoever attempts to threaten peace and security will get a lesson of their life insisting that on the foundation of tragedy, their lives as a new nation begins.

The President mentioned the past 22 years they have been on a journey towards a common goal: building the dignified nation the Rwanda people deserve.

President Kagame noted that Rwanda may many resources but it has the willpower and determination to rebuild and protect the nation.

He assured that Rwandans will endeavor to deal with problems caused by their history and also deal with others that they will encounter along the way as they strengthen their unity as the pillar of development.

The president said Rwandans are people who understand the world they live in and aim to live in dignity.

“Let us not lose hope, we should stay strong and deal with our problems with resolve. When I look at how far we have come and the unity and hard work that has defined us, there is nothing that we cannot overcome.”

The President later held a press conference where he addressed different issues concerning the 22nd commemoration of the genocide, regional cooperation among others.

NAO took part in Cultural Kwibuka night at Serena hotel in Kigali which was organized by Rwandan Musicians to give hope and in remembrance of the loved ones who perished during the 1994 genocide through Kwibuka songs.

The event was aimed at holding a fundraising for the genocide survivors to support them in keeping their dreams and hopes alive. Diplomats and top government officials were present at the emotional event.

Kwibuka 22 in Eastern Province 11th April 2016

Burial of 59 remains of 1994 Genocide at Kiziguro genocide memorial site in Gatsibo district.
Burial of 59 remains of 1994 Genocide at Kiziguro genocide memorial site in Gatsibo district.
Burial of 59 remains of 1994 Genocide at Kiziguro genocide memorial site in Gatsibo district.
Burial of 59 remains of 1994 Genocide at Kiziguro genocide memorial site in Gatsibo district.

There were other events organised during the 100 days, where the NAO representative joined Rwandans at Kiziguro for Kwibuka 22nd event at Eastern Province.

According to The head of Ibuka in Gatsibo District, Felicien Niyonziza, between 3500-3700 people were massacred on April 11, 1994 at Kiziguro Parish (Catholic Church) alone before the Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA) advanced into the area.

The event was held near the parish where the victims who sought refuge at the parish were slaughtered and their bodies thrown into a 30 meter pit near the church that was dug in preparation of the massacre in 1994.

Remains of 59 victims of the 1994 genocide which had been retrieved from different areas following testimonies and information obtained during the past year were accorded a decent burial at Kiziguro genocide memorial site in Gatsibo district.

Government officials and local leaders joined a mammoth crowd of mourners, who turned up for the burial.

Northen Advocacy Organization CEO Balqesa Abdi with Friends of Rwanda youth from Australia and Rwanda at Kiziguro genocide memorial site
Northen Advocacy Organization CEO Balqesa Abdi with Friends of Rwanda youth from Australia and Rwanda at Kiziguro genocide memorial site
legal13

The Eastleigh legal aid clinic

By Balkesa Sheikh/ Christine Muchira

NAO members and Advocates of the High Court of Kenya and paralegals on Saturday 7th May 2016 launched the two day clinic at around 9:00 a.m.

The two day clinic focuses on basics and fundamental rights and freedom enshrined in the Constitution of Kenya 2010, land law, labor law and succession law which forms the bulk of the complaints.

Kenya faces significant challenges in implementing a legal aid system.

The Kenyan government only provides legal aid to individuals accused of capital crimes, which leaves many Kenyans without legal representation.

The majority of legal aid services are provided by non- governmental organizations (“NGOs”), which are located mainly in large cities and lack the resources and capacity to represent the large number of Kenyans in need of legal aid.

The team was obligated to collect as much information on the clients to enable further screening at later stages and distribute free copies of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 to Clients served upon their request.

Most participants were aware of Eastleigh’s commercial success stories and being an area predominantly inhabited by ethnic Somalis were also alive to various forms of harassment and neglect by different governmental authorities.

police-brutality
Many cases of police harassment as well as commercial disputes were expected

As such, a lot of cases of police harassment as well as commercial disputes were expected.

Besides the question of police harassment, a majority were also aware that matters such as labour, succession, divorce and landlord-tenant dispute cases were likely to come up.

It is the first legal aid clinic conducted by Northern Advocacy Organization since its inception, it served as a pilot project from which the others planned in different parts of the NAOs area of operation would draw reference.

NAO officials laid the groundwork for the clinic by visiting the area before. They also appointed a contact person who was well known in the area and who was therefore competent in disseminating the news of an approaching legal aid clinic to the public.

Nature of legal issues addressed

The Two (2) day Legal Aid Clinic in Eastleigh was successful having attended to nearly One Hundred (100) Clients. The nature of the legal issues addressed can be categorized as follows:

 

NATURE OF CASE                                                                                                       NO. OF CLIENTS

 

INFRINGEMENT, VIOLATION AND/OR THREAT OF VIOLATION OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT AND FREEDOM

 

 

22

LAND-Including tenancy disputes                       15
SUCCESSION                       10
LABOUR                        5
CRIMINAL                        9
DIVORCE, CUSTODY & CHILD MAINTENANCE                        4
DOUBLE REGISTRATION OF STATUS                        6
OTHERS                       16
TOTAL                       87

 

As it can be seen from the above summary, the most prevalent nature of cases that most of the residents of Eastleigh had were cases related to infringement, violation and/or denial of constitutional rights and freedom.

Infringement, violation and/or denial of constitutional rights and freedom

Most of the cases in Eastleigh are related to harassment, neglect and extortion by the Authorities mainly security agencies.

Majority of the Clients both Kenyan Citizens and refugees complained of police harassment and unlawful arrest by the security agencies especially whenever terror incident occurred within the suburb.

legal12The most vulnerable within the group are the refugees because they tend to get arrested whether or not they have legal documentation largely because of stereotype that they are either terrorists or sympathizers and as because of low level of illiteracy and their inability to speak Kenya national language, Swahili.

An example is one case of a Somali refugee claimed that he was arrested and harassed by police on his way to Kenyatta National Hospital for treatment.

He narrated that even after showing them documentation including UNHCR Mandate the officers arrested him insisting that he had no right in the country.

The refugee further narrated that the officers later took him to a side street where one of them held him by the neck as the other one took all the valuables and was thereafter released.

He informed the team of NAO officials that even after reporting the incident to UNHCR and Refugee Council of Kenya, nothing came of it.

Another client of Kenyan nationality with similar experience also informed us that even if one has the requisite identification documents, the police officers bundle you into their vehicles and take you to police station where thy demand for cash or they are framed for committing other offenses.

The legal team handled the matters and advised each of the clients accordingly.

Cases that required further action to be taken were referred to the Advocates in the team who undertook to give pro-bono services to the client and pursue the matters in court.

Land law

Most cases in this category related to harassment of tenants by Landlords in the event of alleged default of tenancy terms.

Clients had no formal tenancy agreement regulating their tenancy and as such have weaker bargaining power and therefore vulnerable to misuse by extortionist landlords in the City.

The legal team advised them on the protection afforded to them in the Rent Restriction Act as well as such other laws governing landlord-tenant relationship both for residential and commercial premises.

The Clients were further advised on the Powers and authority of different Rent Tribunals and urge to seek protection of the courts whenever their matter falls within its jurisdiction.

Succession

Generally, the advice given to the clients who presented cases of this nature was how the court process awarded letters of administration and the steps to be taken after the grant of these letters by the Court as well as the jurisdiction of the Kadhi Court in determining succession matters in case where all parties profess Muslim faith.

In particular they made enquiries on whether Kadhi Courts were bestowed with exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine succession causes and further on the role of the High Court in succession matters between Muslims.

The team was privileged to have a Kadhi in our legal team whose experience and expertise on matters succession and marriage were of great assistance to the concerns and queries of the Clients.

Labour

There were two clients who sought advice on this matter. One client explained that his term of employment had been unfairly terminated.

He had been forced to retire at the age of 50 years. He sought unpaid benefits for the 5 years needed for him to reach the age of retirement at that time.

The client was advised to visit the KHRC offices with all the relevant documents in regards to his employment as he had left them at his premises.

The other client also complained of unlawful termination of employment. He was not given notice of termination.

He had filed a law suit against his employers in the Industrial Court but averred that his advocate was frustrating him.

The client was advised to visit the District Labour Office to calculate the amount due and further to summon the employer to try and solve the dispute at the level and if it persist they should Advocates services.

Another client presented a case wherein he stated that he used to work with the Kenya Prisons until he got involved in a road accident sustaining head injuries leading to brain damage.

He was admitted to Mathari Hospital where he received treatment for close to Nine (9) years and seeks to recover the loss suffered as a result of been disengaged from work.

The team took his contacts and promised to get back to him after reviewing his case and finding appropriate cause of action.

Criminal

Nine clients presented cases of criminal nature. One man in particular, 50 years of age, explained that he and three others had been arrested in 2014.

They were released after the Court ruled that the prosecution had no evidence against them. He was seeking to sue the government for malicious prosecution.

He was referred to KHRC offices as he currently cannot afford an advocate to represent him.

Double registration

We received several cases of persons registered as Kenyan citizens as well as Refugees.

Upon inquiry from the particular clients on the circumstances leading to their status, we discovered that economic hardships and the desire to settle in western countries among the youths lured them into registering as refugees hoping to get asylum.

The major concern is that there data is captured with different individual registration entities such Kenya National Registration Bureau as well as Department of Refugee Agency which both share same database.

They face a challenge in replacement of Kenya National Identification card in case the vital document gets destroyed and/or is lost since such application is usually rejected as a result of detection of double registration in the system.

Our team also attended to clients who needed guidance on business registration procedures, application for work permit and permanent residence as well as enlightenment on the functions of different organs of government.

legal-11The residents of Eastleigh are in very much need of legal aid services. Majority of them cannot afford advocates to represent them in court and give them proper legal advice and opinion.

Even those who previously procured services of Advocates, there were general complaints against Advocates they complained that the advocates asked for a lot of money while there cases continued to drag in the courts.

Some clients showed resentment and indifference to their advocates accusing them of stealing their money, delaying their cases, corruption in terms of colluding with the other party among others.

The program was successful and members of NAO legal team had an opportunity to see the potency of the law in correcting social injustices.

Without representation, most Kenyans are unable to maneuver the legal system because of complex legal procedures, lack of education regarding the court system, financial impediments, or other time and resource constraints.

It is with this backdrop that Northern Advocacy Organization incorporated legal aid service provision as part of its primary objective.

The said services is provided to residents of Northern Kenya as well as Eastleigh, Nairobi through different programs initiated under the umbrella of Legal Aid and Empowerment Programs.