Statement Ahead of the 4 March Elections in Kenya
Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
February 25 2013
On 4 March Kenyans will vote in highly anticipated general elections. This will be the first national ballot since 2007/8 post-election violence resulted in the death of 1,133 Kenyans and displaced over 600,000. At the time international actors responded swiftly to halt the unfolding crimes against humanity, crimes that states committed themselves to protect populations from when adopting the Responsibility to Protect at the 2005 United Nations World Summit. The resulting African Union-led mediation process, supported by the United Nations, is widely cited as the first successful example of the Responsibility to Protect in practice. (…)
Kenya has recently experienced a disturbing increase in inter-communal violence. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, over 400 people were killed and over 112,000 displaced during 2012. Potential flashpoints for the 2013 elections are more numerous than in 2007, including many impoverished, remote and rural parts of the country. (…)
In the case of the Tana River, the police were unable to prevent recent atrocities even in cases where they had received early warning of impending attacks. Security gaps have also contributed to the growth of ethnic-based militias and the proliferation of small arms. As in 2007/8, capacity issues and excessive use of force means that in some cases the police may actually pose a threat to civilians they are supposed to protect.
Our hope is that Kenya will be an example of how an investment in prevention by domestic, regional and international actors can save lives. Now is the time for the Kenyan government, with the support of the international community, to intensify efforts to uphold the Responsibility to Protect. For this to happen it is imperative that strategies to offset possible triggers of violence continue to be prioritized, alongside the development of contingency plans should preventive efforts fail.
The government of Kenya should uphold its Responsibility to Protect by: o Intensifying civic education efforts that explain the electoral process and the legal avenues available for contestation of disputed results; (…)
o Reminding all Kenyans, including the security forces and government officials that they will be held responsible for inciting, aiding or perpetrating mass atrocity crimes.
The international community should assist the government of Kenya by:
o Supporting the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission in holding credible and free elections; (…)
o Being prepared to use targeted sanctions to deter those who may seek to foment violence.
See the full statement here.