UN, Amnesty condemn Fazul board for going after NGOs

Mr Fazul Mohamed, the NGO board executive director. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Mr Fazul Mahamed, the NGO board executive director. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The United Nations (UN) and Amnesty International have separately criticised the move by the NGO Coordination Board to shut down two human rights organisations.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein on Tuesday expressed “deep concern” over the decision to deregister both the Kenya Human Rights Commission and the African Centre for Open Governance.

In a statement issued at the UN offices in Geneva, Mr Zeid called for “civil society actors and media to be allowed to work without hindrance or fear of retaliation.”

Amnesty International, meanwhile, described the NGO Coordination Board's directives as “grotesque.”

The board's action “must be seen for what it really is — a cynical attempt to discredit human rights organisations,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty’s deputy director for East Africa, the Horn and Great Lakes.

'Witch hunt'

“This is an unlawful and irresponsible move in this critical post-election period,” she added.

“The Kenyan authorities must rein in the NGO Coordination Board and not allow such grotesque witch-hunts to take place.”

The board's Executive Director Fazul Mahamed on Tuesday asked Director of Criminal Investigations Ndegwa Muhoro to shut down AfriCOG, saying it was operating without registration.

This came a day after Mr Mohamed de-listed KHRC, accusing the rights watchdog of failing to pay taxes, illegally employing expats, running illegal bank accounts among others.

Court action

KHRC officials on Tuesday dismissed Mr Mohamed's accusations and vowed court action.

UN human rights chief Zeid also affirmed the right of opposition supporters “to assemble and protest peacefully,” adding that “the authorities have a responsibility to ensure they can do so.”

Mr Zeid voiced concerns over reports that Kenyan security forces used live ammunition against protesters.

He also cited reports of “police brutality leading to several deaths and injuries, including children.”