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An introduction to the trial of koigi wa wamwere

Abusive Use of the Law: Njuguna Ngengi, a local councillor. They have been charged with attempted robbery with violence following an alleged raid on Bahati police station near Nakuru, 150 kilometres northwest of Nairobi, on 2 November 1993. If convicted they face mandatory death sentences. Amnesty International believes that the charges against them are false and that all four are prisoners of conscience.

All four men have been detained since November 1993. The trial of these four defendants appears to be part of a pattern of harassment of human rights activists, opposition figures and journalists, and especially those who, like Koigi wa Wamwere, have been attempting to investigate or report incidents of political violence in the Rift Valley and other parts of Kenya. Government involvement has been alleged in the ethnic-based violence which has killed around 1,500 people and displaced more than 300,000 since it began in December 1991.

In the past in Kenya, non-violent critics of the government who have been arrested, many of whom have been prisoners of conscience, have either been held for short periods and then released without charge, or charged with "sedition" or related offences such as subversion, and released on bail after a few days or weeks. Charges against them have then been dropped after some months. In a new disturbing development, the government has now evidently decided to use capital criminal charges which are not bailable against people whose only offence is that they are non-violent critics of the Kenyan government.

Amnesty International is concerned at what appears to be abusive use of an introduction to the trial of koigi wa wamwere Kenyans call their "Hanging" law and the arbitrary detention of political prisoners, some of whom may, like Koigi wa Wamwere, be prisoners of conscience.

Since the trial of Koigi wa Wamwere and his three co-defendants began in April 1994 it has been attended regularly by observers from international human rights organizations and legal organizations. Observers have raised a number of concerns which relate specifically to the conduct of the trial and the evidence and have questioned the impartiality of the court. A clear impression has been made on observers that the four accused are not receiving a fair trial under national or international standards.

In commenting on this trial while it is sub judice under legal considerationAmnesty International is expressing its serious concern that four prisoner of conscience are not receiving a fair trial and may, as a result, be sentenced to death on the basis of national law.

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Because Amnesty International is concerned with issues of fair trial and death penalty, it decided to act now, even though the trial has not yet finished. Njuguna Ngengi on the grounds that they are prisoners of conscience imprisoned for their non-violent opposition to the government. Koigi wa Wamwere appears to be targeted by the Kenyan authorities because of his opposition to the government and the others to have been because of their relationship to Koigi wa Wamwere and their opposition to the Kenyan Government.

The organization believes that the charges against them have been fabricated and that the police are making abusive use of the law on armed robbery to detain, on non-bailable charges, non-violent critics of the government. The abusive use of criminal charges to detain political prisoners undermines the Kenya Government's claim to be abiding by the rule of law.

Many human rights activists and others in Kenya see this trial as a test case. If these four men are found guilty and sentenced to death it will have serious implications for freedom of expression in Kenya. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Njuguna Ngengi began on 12 April 1994 and is still continuing. They have been charged with attempted robbery with violence following an alleged raid on Bahati police station near Nakuru, 150 kilometres kms northwest of Nairobi, on 2 November 1993.

Koigi wa Wamwere, a human rights activist, a former member of parliament and a former prisoner of conscience, is a prominent critic of the Kenyan government [1] Following his release from prison in January 1993, after treason charges against him were dropped, Koigi wa Wamwere was openly involved in politics, operating within the new multi-party framework.

He did not join any of the other opposition parties but, after some involvement with the Released Political Prisoners RPP group a non-violent campaigning groupformed his own human rights organization. There is no evidence of his involvement in any clandestine violent opposition group, or revival of the Kenya Patriotic Front KPFwhich he had formed in the late 1980s while in exile in Norway.

At the time of his arrest, in November 1993, Koigi wa Wamwere was on bail for sedition and other charges following his imprisonment in September 1993 for a month. Amnesty International had appealed for his release as a prisoner an introduction to the trial of koigi wa wamwere conscience. Njuguna Ngengi, a councillor from Molo, 160 kms northwest of Nairobi, and a former army officer, are also known critics of the government.

Although opposition political parties operate openly and freely, opposition members of parliament, human rights activists, journalists and other government critics have been arrested in connection with peaceful demonstrations, speeches, publications or investigations into human rights abuses.

CONSCIENCE ON TRIAL: Why I was Detained, Notes of a Political Prisoner in Kenya by Koigi Wa Wamwere

Whole editions of newspapers and publications critical of government policy have been impounded and printing presses have been put out of action. Since January 1994 over 20 journalists have been intimidated, harassed, arrested, fined or imprisoned and on 11 July one foreign journalist was deported after being held incommunicado for eight hours.

An introduction to the trial of koigi wa wamwere

Amnesty International took up the case of two journalists, Bedan Mbugua and David Makali, imprisoned in June for contempt of court, as prisoners of conscience. These actions by the Kenyan authorities have seriously undermined the right to freedom of expression in Kenya. However, what is of particular concern in the case of Koigi wa Wamwere and his co-defendants are the charges under which they are being held.

With the increasingly high profile of human rights, many governments are becoming more sophisticated in actions against human rights activists.

Different laws and charges are increasingly being used so that critics appear to be detained not for their non-violent political activity, but on the grounds that they are criminals.

Governments can then pretend that there are no political prisoners in their country since all are held under criminal laws. In Kenya, non-violent critics of the government who have been arrested, many of whom have been prisoners of conscience, have either been held for short periods and then released without charge, or charged with "sedition" or related offences such as subversion, and released on bail after a few days or weeks.

Both charges permit the imprisonment of non-violent critics of the government. The evidence against Koigi wa Wamwere and his three co-accused is weak. All four men have alibis. Koigi wa Wamwere, for example, was in Nairobi and is said to have stayed at the house of Gibson Kamau Kuria, a prominent human rights lawyer and former prisoner of conscience.

Yet the police have made no attempt to investigate their alibis. Three men were said by the an introduction to the trial of koigi wa wamwere to have been shot during the raid, which began at 2. If they were in fact killed before the incident this would suggest that the incident itself may have been fabricated and the bodies of people killed in different circumstances used to suggest it had occurred.

The arrest of Koigi wa Wamwere in September 1993 On 2 September 1993 Koigi wa Wamwere returned to Kenya from Norway, where he had been living with his family since his release from prison on 19 January 1993.

All eight were held incommunicado in Nakuru police station and some of them were reportedly tortured by the police. Amnesty International appealed for their release as prisoners of conscience. On 22 September 1993 seven of those arrested were charged with: These security regulations became available in government bookshops on 22 September 1993.

They were published on 20 September and back-dated to 17 September 1993. Koigi wa Wamwere and the others denied the charges and applied for bail. Susan Wangui was released on bail.

An introduction to the trial of koigi wa wamwere

John Kinyanjui Njoroge was released without charge, but he was rearrested on 6 October and held until 24 November on account of a radio interview he gave to the British Broadcasting Corporation BBC alleging that he had been tortured by the police. Geoffrey Kuria Kariuki and two others were released on 6 October. Koigi wa Wamwere and Mirugi Kariuki were not released on bail until 19 October, having been further charged on 5 October with "administering an unlawful oath".

The arrest of Koigi wa Wamwere and his co-defendants in November 1993 During October 1993 there had been renewed political violence in Rift Valley Province and over 20 people were killed in one incident in Narok District. The Minister for Local Government, William ole Ntimama, and several other government ministers were accused by the opposition an introduction to the trial of koigi wa wamwere inciting the violence, following a statement the minister had made openly defending Maasai warriors in their armed conflict with members of other mainly Kikuyu ethnic groups over land.

President Daniel arap Moi publicly criticised the opposition and the press on 28 October 1993 for telling lies and inciting violence and he directed the police to arrest anyone spreading rumours and false information. On 29 October the Catholic Bishops in Kenya issued an open pastoral letter to President Daniel arap Moi sharply criticizing the government's involvement in the political violence, stating that "all these abominations are done in your name, by some of your cabinet ministers, by your District Commissioners, your District Officers, your civil servants, your 'elite military' General Service Unit and police.

A number of students were injured and several female students were reportedly raped. During the last week in October matatu drivers and touts organized a widespread strike protesting at government involvement in the political violence.

The strike began in Molo, Rift Valley Province, and spread to Nairobi before it was called off at the beginning of November. In the early morning of 2 November 1993, the authorities announced that a violent attempt to seize firearms from Bahati Police Post, near Nakuru, had taken place.

Two men were alleged to have died during the raid and a third later in hospital. Shortly after the raid, newspapers reported that the Nakuru Officer-in-Charge claimed the raid was carried out by matatu touts from Nakuru who had travelled to Bahati police station in a lorry.

This was one of three apparent raids on police stations in the area that were alleged by the authorities to have occurred between 30 October and 2 November 1993.

In response to the apparently deteriorating security situation, President Daniel arap Moi, in a radio broadcast on 4 November 1993, accused the opposition of causing the situation by "pursuing parochial political objectives through campaigns of misinformation, distortion of facts and actual incitement of wananchi citizens in a bid to discredit the government.

It is evident that the so-called ethnic clashes were staged by the same individuals through leaflets, offensive audio-cassettes and publications. It is regrettable that a significant number of religious personalities actively participated in these unfortunate campaigns".

The President urged the Commissioner of Police to "use all apparatus at his disposal" to restore security. Around 250 people were arrested in Nakuru alone between 3 and 5 November. Most of those arrested were hawkers and matatu touts who had been involved in the strike, many of whom were charged with minor offences and released an introduction to the trial of koigi wa wamwere bail.

Although most of those arrested were released within a few days, some were held illegally for over two weeks before being released without charge. Under Kenyan law people who have been arrested must be charged within 24 hours, or 14 days for a suspected capital offence, or released. Bishop Joseph Kimani had been arrested on 2 November outside Bahati Police station which he visited shortly after the raid.

Under his bail conditions, Koigi wa Wamwere was required to report weekly to Nakuru Police Station and his passport was confiscated. The application was heard in the Nakuru Magistrate's Court on 1 November 1993.

The magistrate ruled that Koigi wa Wamwere's passport should be returned and that he be allowed to leave the country for two weeks. However the police were unwilling to release his passport and applied for a reversal of the ruling. Koigi wa Wamwere travelled to Nairobi with two friends on 1 November 1993. The entire time he was in Nairobi he is said to have stayed at the house of Gibson Kamau Kuria.

The next four days in Nairobi he was reportedly followed everywhere by the police. Early on 5 November he returned to Nakuru for a court hearing regarding the returning of his passport. He was arrested by police at the office of his lawyer, Mirugi Kariuki, at 7. All six pleaded not guilty. The following week, nine other an introduction to the trial of koigi wa wamwere were arrested and subsequently charged with the same offence, including G.

He had previously been arrested several times before, including with his family in May 1992, when they were allegedly tortured, and in February 1993 when he was charged with possessing firearms.

After falling ill in police custody he had been released on bail in August 1993 and subsequently hospitalized in Nairobi until 17 October 1993. He suffers from kidney problems and is currently in very poor health.

James Maigwa was arrested in Thika, 40 kms northeast of Nairobi, and was taken to Ngong Police Station where he was reportedly tortured. He was later taken to Nakuru Police Station. Charles Kuria Wamwere, a former teacher, was arrested in Nairobi, where he was held for a short period before being taken to Nakuru Police Station too.

In January 1994 he contracted typhoid in Nakuru Prison and was eventually transferred to hospital the following month following repeated requests from his lawyers and national and international human rights organizations. At least five of those arrested and subsequently charged with attempted robbery with violence of Bahati Police station were reportedly tortured while they were held by the police in incommunicado detention.