Amnesty International and EU concerned by attempted to deregulate human rights organisations

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The EU Heads of Mission in Kenya and Amnesty International have expressed concern at the announcement by the NGO Coordination Board that it was deregistering the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) and the Africa Centre for Open Governance (AfriCOG).

On the 14 August, KHRC were accused of operating illegal bank accounts, failing to pay its taxes, employing foreigners without work permits, and making secret payments to its board members, one of whom is the director of Amnesty’s East Africa regional office.

A day later, the NGO Coordination Board sent a separate letter to the Director of Criminal Investigations accusing AfriCoG of failing to register as an NGO, and asking him to close it down and arrest its directors and members.

In response, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, Michelle Kagari said:

“The NGO Coordination Board’s decision must be seen for what it really is – a cynical attempt to discredit human rights organizations. This is an unlawful and irresponsible move in this critical post-election period.

“This assault on human rights groups must be immediately halted. The Kenyan authorities must rein in the NGO Coordination Board and not allow such grotesque witch-hunts to take place.”

The European Union and its Member States accredited to Kenya also issued the following statement:

“The EU and its Member States express great concern at the decision taken by the NGO Coordination Board regarding Africa Centre for Open Governance (AfriCOG) and Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC).

“We welcome the announcement by the Cabinet Secretary for Interior to reverse the NGO Coordination Board decision regarding AfriCOG and KHRC, as well as his reassurances that President Kenyatta and the Government of Kenya are committed to ensure unrestrained space for civil society, in all its diversity.

“It is vital, particularly during this important period, that Civil Society Organisations are able to operate without harassment or hindrance in line with due process.”

Both organizations have been involved in election monitoring in recent weeks.

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