The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) has challenged the government to make public the findings of a judicial commission that investigated the Tana Delta killings in Tana River County.
KNCHR chairperson Kagwiria Mbogori and Vice-chairman George Morara observed that the recommendations of the Judge Grace Nzioka-led commission will help locals to address perennial land problems facing them and fully reconcile.
“We would urge for the release of findings of that commission which can be of assistance to the people of this volatile area. A number of complaints showed trends of continued conflicts.
“There is rising conflict between farmers and herders. We feel this is unnecessary and it is something that can be guided and controlled. We feel the conflicts between farming and pastoralist communities of Tana Delta can and should be prevented,” Ms Mbogori said.
And Mr Morara added: “The commission will push for the publication of the report and one of the recommendation we shall indicate to the State is to avoid trigger points to the violence.”
The two KNCHR officials were addressing a press conference after concluding a week-long public inquiry into insecurity and its impact on enjoyment of human rights in Tana River County.
Ms Mbogori said it was unfortunate that finding of the judicial inquiry into the 2012/2013 bloody clashes had not be published yet families of 112 people killed during the clashes are still waiting for justice.
She said her commission too investigated the clashes and prepared a report titled ‘21 Days of Terror in Tana Delta’ and shared findings with Judge Nzioka’s commission.
“It is very unfortunately that the Nzioka commission findings were not made public and since we are one month and few days to the New Year, which is an election year, we feel Tana River should remain a peaceful zone so that residents continue enjoying their rights,” she said.
Three years ago, President Uhuru Kenyatta received the report and pledged that his government will take action on the suspected perpetrators of the violence who include two MPs, a former minister, ambassador and a religious leader accused of masterminding the clashes.
Ms Mbogori said with one year and few months left before the 2017 general elections, there is need for stringent measures to be put in place to ensure peace and security prevails across Tana River and enable residents participate in the polls without the occurrence of such conflicts.
She also called for the prosecution of war mongers and perpetrators of hate speech across the country and urged county and national government officials to take their responsibilities seriously.
She said it is evident that complaints made to State officers in Tana River County are casually handled leading to locals resorting to taking the law into the hands.
“We call upon county and national government officials to act on the complaints made to their officers seriously so that Kenyans have confidence with public institutions,” she added.
Unresolved land conflicts pitting farmers and livestock keepers dominated the four days of public sittings in Hola and Garsen towns which speakers described as serious threats to peaceful co-existence among local communities.
Police and local administrators were accused of poorly handling land-related disputes hence worsening conflicts.
Politicians were also accused of inciting and dividing communities along ethnic, religious and clan lines for their own political gain.
However, representatives of communities, members of civil societies, politicians, local administrators and police chiefs in Tana River who testified before KNCHR stated that alternative dispute resolution would form a concrete basis of resolving some of the underlying issues.
“There is a common trend in this area [when even] when a bicycle knocks down a pedestrian, it is turned to be a dispute between communities and such are issues causing unnecessary hostilities,” said Tana Delta OCPD Robison Thuku who had served in the county for the last seven years.
Mr Thuku, who previously served as Tana River Deputy OCPD said police work in the area came with unique challenges which require courage to deal with.