EXTERNAL AI Index: AFR 32/14/96
6 August 1996
Further information on EXTRA 113/96 (AFR 32/11/96, 23 July 1996) - Prisoners
of Conscience / Health concern
Tirop KITUR, Chairperson
Munga GATHOGO, Assistant Secretary
Kanene KARARI, Coordinator (note name change)
Ndungi GITHUKU, Assistant Coordinator (note name change)
Josephine Nyawira NGENGI (f)
Virginia WANJIRU (f)
Wanjiru KAHIGA (f)
On 6 August 1996 the 21 members of the human rights organization Release
Political Prisoners (RPP) were finally given bail after having been imprisoned
for 19 days in harsh conditions. They should be released shortly.
All 21 were arrested in Nairobi on 19 July on charges of sedition and holding
an illegal meeting. They were initially refused bail despite the fact that
both charges are bailable. Human rights activists in Kenya believe the RPP
is being targeted for its human rights activities. In the past few months the
RPP have continued to express concern at the murder of their Secretary General,
Karimi Nduthu, on 24 March 1996, and have raised questions about the apparent
lack of progress in the police investigation.
The bail application was not opposed by the prosecution when the case came
to court on the morning of 6 August. Bail has been set at 20,000 Kenyan shillings
each (approximately £240). The detainees were represented in court by senior
Kenyan lawyers and supported by lawyers from a number of legal and human rights
organizations including the Kenya branch of the International Commission of
Jurists, the Federation of Independent Women Lawyers (FIDA)-Kenya, the Kenya
Human Rights Commission and Kituo Cha Sheria, a legal aid centre. The trial
is set to begin on 19 August.
Amnesty International remains concerned about these 21 human rights activists
and believes that the Kenyan authorities are using the laws on sedition to
restrict freedom of expression and association. The organization considers them to
be prisoners of conscience.