Story by Kenneth Wepukhulu
Photos: Elijah Odanga
The Civil Society has condemned president William Ruto over his recent threats to those who have filed cases in court over and control of Mumias Sugar Company.
The Civil society said that human rights organisations are deeply concerned with president Ruto’s statements as they are consistent with a growing culture of impunity, as demonstrated by increased misuse of police power during the last riots as well as police being used to aid and abet land grabbing.
They singled out the president’s words where he instructed those who have filed cases in court over and control of Mumias Sugar Company to withdraw the case or else they move out of the country, have them jailed or have travel to heaven to meet their maker.
“The words taken in their literal sense constitute a threat to persons who are currently involved over the control and ownership of Mumias Sugar Company,” said the civil society officials during a press conference held at the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) headquarters in Nairobi on Tuesday, August 29th, 2023.
They added:” The statements also undermine the authority of the court and signal a departure from use of legitimate dispute resolution mechanisms, in favour of abrogation constitutional rights, threats and intimidations.”
The press conference was jointly held by LSK, Haki Africa, Amnesty International Kenya and the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) who emphasised on the need of the government in upholding the rule of law.
“The strong warning comes at the backdrop of the abduction and subsequent release of billionaire Jaswant Rai, one of the parties involved in court dispute over Mumias Sugar Company. While circumstances of his public abduction must be related to the issues surrounding the sugar milling company,” they said.
Following the president’s utterances, the officials questioned the government’s commitment in upholding to the right to life and protection against cruel and inhumane treatment, as well as equal treatment before the law and the right to live anywhere in the Republic of Kenya and to own property.
“These rights are guaranteed to every person by the constitution and cannot be taken away, unless as decreed by the laws of this country, It is regrettable that the utterances by his Excellency the President seem to suggest that he can disregard constitutionally guaranteed rights at whim,” they fumed.
The activists pointed out that the constitution guarantees every person the right to access courts and the right to have every dispute determined with accordance with the laws of the land.
“The declaration by the president, therefore appear to suspend the Constitution and substitute the rule of law with the rule of the wishes by the executive. This is clearly unconstitutional and an attempt to return the country to the dark years, of repressive regime that violated the human rights and freedom of Kenyans,” they observed.
On that note, the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) expressed fears of advocates being the next government targets in an attempt of intimidating lawyers representing various parties in court disputes over Mumias Sugar.
They called on religious leaders to come out and condemn the attempts by the Kenya Kwanza government of returning Kenya to the dark ages and departure from the rule of law.