Constitution to blame for violence, says Kiai
Published on March 18, 2008, 12:00 am
By Samuel Otieno The Constitution expired five years ago, the chairman of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNHCR) has claimed.
Mr Maina Kiai said the Constitution stoked post-election violence because it provided for a winner-take-all system.
“It was bound to happen,” said Kiai, who is in the US after allegedly receiving threats because of the stand he took on post-election crisis.
He was addressing Kenyans at Sheraton Hotel in Minnesota at the weekend.
Kiai urged Kenyans to put pressure on President Kibaki and ODM leader, Mr Raila Odinga, to ensure the Constitution was reformed.
“Kenya’s Constitution is like milk with a sell-by date. That date was in 2002. For five years, we drank spoilt milk and in December it gave us diarrhoea,” Kiai said.
While the violence shocked Kenyans abroad and the international community, Kiai said that the ominous signs had been there for many years.
He cited the response from former UN Secretary General, Dr Kofi Annan, when he (Kiai) thanked him for brokering the peace deal. Kiai said he had told Annan: “When two elephants fight, it is the grass that hurts.”
“Annan told me, ‘When these same elephants make love, the grass hurts too!’” Kiai said. “We have to make sure they don’t make love too much.”
Citing the burning of a church in Eldoret — which left about 50 people dead and sparked killings in Nakuru — Kiai said it was clear some leaders were behind the violence.
“I’m not sure if it was pre-planned, but it was organised,” Kiai said.
He said during his visits to mortuaries in Kisumu, Kakamega and Migori, he discovered that victims had gunshot wounds in the back, indicating that they had been shot as they fled.
Kiai said the violence that pitted neighbour against neighbour also revealed the Good Samaritans.
Prosecute instigatorsHe called for a truth and reconciliation commission that would bring to justice the perpetrators of violence.
He said politicians who instigated violence should be prosecuted. Responding to concerns that such a commission would hurt the country by opening old wounds, Kiai said: “There is no healing without pain. When you have a decaying tooth, you have to go through a painful extraction to avoid an infection that could kill you.”
Meanwhile, a recent report by a non-governmental organisation has revealed that children are faced with the most violence in their homes.
The recent research by ANPPCAN, an organisation that deals with the protection of children, shows that many are abused by people they know, including their parents.
Sexual violence is the most reported form of abuse among children, with girls being the easiest prey for sex pests. Male teachers are also known to prey on the girls.
Boys are also abused but the cases are rarely reported. The report also notes that the age of children who are abused has reduced, with instances of babies as young as eight months old falling prey to abusers.
“The judicial system is not very friendly to children especially those involved in sexual offences. Judicial practice does not always respect the child’s need for privacy especially when they have to testify against adults,” reads part of the report.