War is no longer fashionable!

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Dear President Pierre Nkurunzinza,

I am a young Kenyan lawyer still learning how to climb the ropes up the profession. I have been quietly watching the news just to monitor the state of affairs in your country. I am not a citizen of Burundi but I am an African woman. I believe in the simple values taught to us when we were young children. I believe in peace, justice and love for one another as well as for my country and my continent-Mother Africa. I will not tell you to stop the war or end the plight of Burundians, our fellow Africans. Instead your Excellency allow me to remind you the positive things about your country that people have admired before these inhuman killings started and hence resulting in thousands of people fleeing their country.

Firstly, your country prescribed to a specified two term rule for a president but somehow your excellency, the wisdom of your judiciary decided you could run for a third term. Despite the protests, you contested and won with a landslide victory. I do not admire your move but I admire Burundi’s judiciary. As a law student I relied sometimes on judicial decisions by the courts of Burundi that I believed then to be progressive. For example the decisions from your supreme court addressed some of the legal issues so well. Currently your judiciary is operating on fear of the executive yet your constitution proclaims the independence of the judiciary. Furthermore your constitution upholds the principle of independence of the constitution.

Secondly let us look at your economy. According to World Bank statistics Burundi had a thriving economy up to 2015 which was about 4.8% annually and would be grow to 5% in 2016 if peaceful circumstances would be thriving. Many Kenyans had even found job opportunities in your country. I believe the move by my fellow Kenyans and people of other nationalities to work in Burundi was a sign that your country was expanding to the levels of promoting a global community in a country. The war currently has seen many people go back to their homes leaving Burundi short of some of the services that they provided. One may argue that Burundians can take up the jobs but your Excellency it is very hard to rebuild an economy that has been destroyed twice by wars that are no longer fashionable in the 21st century.

Thirdly I admired the negotiated democracy concept in your constitution. The negotiated democracy started off by talks spearheaded by the late Julius Nyerere and taken over by the late Nelson Mandela. This saw your country pick up. You signed the Arusha declaration that bound your country but sadly your Excellency you forgot how you had led the Hutu in the rebellion to get peace, justice and democracy for Burundi. You forgot what war feels like and its draw backs and as a result forced your way back and now your country is burning down again.

Fourthly I admired the way your laws protected women and children and the most vulnerable categories of persons in Burundi for instance the Burundi constitution ensured women got 30% appointments to the assembly. Burundi did not even think about the concept progressive realization of fundamental freedoms and rights, Burundi simply found ways to adhere to the law. The children of Burundi are the future generation of your country and the laws always sought to protect them. Sadly they too are affected by the current situation in your country. Your Excellency children are the future. Being an asylum seeker is not fashionable and should not be routine. Remember to protect them always

Lastly your Excellency let me remind you of how human we are. Bottom line is no one deserves to loose life because of your political ambitions. Your country does not deserve to burn down. Your people deserve to have their human rights and opinions respected. However you are now in power and since you have rejected the peace troops I think you should call the shots as you want and restore peace. Restoration of peace does not entail using your troops to commit killings to calm down the masses. Restoration of peace can sometimes involve going back to the drawing board and asking for help from the east African community or the African union or the United Nations to help rebuild your country before it is too late. Perhaps you could be on time to rescue a little which you can build from. Remember you are not doing this for you. You will be doing this for the people of Burundi.

Your Excellency my request is simple end the war in your country and restore peace. With all due respect Your Excellency I trust you will consider all this and quickly resolve the situation in your country.

Yours sincerely,

Concerned African.

 

 

Kituo rescues Halima from imminent deportation.

Halima55Halima Guyo, a Kenyan residing in Huruma Estate, Nairobi County has been behind bars for the last 2 months. Her predicament started in November 2015 when she found herself in the hands of officer of the Kenya Police on patrol who asked for her national identification card which incidentally she had misplaced a while back.

She found herself bundled together with around 400 other people who allegedly came from Ethiopia and hence the only viable option available to them was deportation back to Ethiopia. Halima Guyo tried every means possible to explain to the officers that she was indeed Kenyan, a mother of two and has never even been to Ethiopia.  The officers however, insisted that they were Ethiopians and are in Kenya illegally and should be deported back with immediate effect.

Sen. Fatuma Adan Dullo, Vice Chairperson, National Security and Foreign Relations Committee in the country who comes from her area witnessed Halima being forced into the deportation bus together with the others strove to seek justice from all corners but to no avail.

The matter came to Kituo’s attention in December 2015 and advocate Clara Barasa and Gloria Dzuya of the Forced Migration Program took up the matter immediately pursuing it in court to ensure Halima was accorded Justice.

Through various hurdles Clara Baraza argued her case, provided all the relevant documents to ascertain her credibility as a Kenyan and the court finally gave orders on 20th January, 2016. On Thursday, 21st January, 2016, Halima who happens to speak Kiswahili and Kikuyu language was all joyful as she reunited with her family after two trying months behind the bars thanks to the efforts of her Senator and Kituo Cha Sheria.

RCKM.
Kituo Cha Sheria

‘Karibu Turkana Community Justice Centre’

Turk Pic“We must evaluate access to justice from the perspective of the poorest and most marginalized amongst us”

From the cradle of Mankind County of Turkana, Kituo Cha Sheria ended the year 2015 welcoming the Turkana Community Justice Centre to our family.

Led by the Executive Director Ms. Gertrude Angote, Kituo joined the Turkana community and their leaders on 18th December 2015 in Lokichar sub-county, Turkana County.

The noble endeavor that took place at the Kenya Assemblies of God Hall in Lokichar town   kicked off at around 10am with tunes from Ekisil Akide- ‘Peace from the South’, traditional dancers.

Opening of the Justice Centre was preceded by graduation of 27 Kituo trained community paralegals from across the vast Turkana county; Lodwar, Loima, Kapitur and Kainuk. The community paralegals underwent an intensive training on basics of paralegalism, Introduction to Law and the Bill of Rights, land laws and labour laws as well as alternative dispute resolution among other topics from 7th-17th of December, 2015. The training was conducted by Kituo officers Marcelino Thuku and Ashioya Biko joined by the Kamukunji Justice Centre Coordinator Ezekiel Njenga.

The community paralegals in Turkana (Lokichar) are expected to bring legal services closer to the community with support from local administrators and players in the justice sector to promote access to justice to the poor and marginalized.

Ricardo Lopetok, speaking on behalf of the graduates, gave a chronology of the journey travelled by the paralegals since 2013 leading up to their qualification and graduation on the December, 18.

He expressed the hope that the new paralegals will work closely with the local Catholic Church and the local administration to ensure the community members access justice.

He urged Kituo to continue walking with them on this journey of legal empowerement.

Fr. John Wabootsa of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (CJPC) in the Diocese of Lodwar also praised the partnership of Kituo, the community and the church in establishing the justice centre primarily to promote justice and challenge oppressive structures in society. He noted all this work was to benefit the marginalized people in society.

The Executive Director Ms. Angote thanked the community for their warm welcome to Lokichar on behalf of Kituo and lauded the community for welcoming Kituo within their community. She explained Kituo’s journey through time from the beginning 43 years ago and indeed emphasized the opening of a Justice Centre in Lokichar was the ultimate achievement of access to justice for the poor and marginalized people.

Kituo’s main goal she said is to empower communities hence the importance of community paralegals in helping the people demand their rights and safeguard them especially with devolution now in the Constitution of Kenya. Community rights and legal empowerment are at the center of such initiatives as the Turkana Community Justice Centre. Extractives industry and land have increasingly become important to the Turkana Community and there’s need to safeguard community rights as a result of these emerging developments.

Aimee Ongeso, the programme coordinator Advocacy, Governance and Community Partnerships at Kituo thanked the partnership and goodwill extended to Kituo Cha Sheria in establishing the Turkana Community Justice Centre by various partners in the community including the church, community leaders including elected leaders and government administrative officers as well as the Judiciary through the Lodwar Law Courts.

In attendance included the Executive Officer at the Lodwar Law Court joseph Elimlim representing the Principal Margistrate, Lodwar; Raphael Loperito, Member of County Assembly-Lokichar; Lawrence Lotomon, MCA and chair of the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee in the Turkana County Assembly; Lillyrose Akori, MCA; Kevin Akeru, Turkana County Assembly Clerk. Also present were Linus Kwemoi, Alexander Munyes from the Department of Children’s Services and the Assistant County Commissioner, Lokichar and the area chief together with sub-county administrators.

RCKM.

Kituo Cha Sheria.