By Carolyne Shivachi
With the general elections approaching, on August 9 2022, the need for the general public to reflect/ plan around election monitoring/ reporting, Police conduct/ misconduct, observance with a focus on sexual gender-based violence and effective crime scene management was crucial for IMLU as an organization. A total of twenty-three community dialogues were planned in June and July in seventeen counties to create awareness on enhancing peace and cohesion within the communities during the electioneering period. The dialogues sessions were held in Narok, Kisii, Mombasa, Kilifi, Machakos, Kiambu, Kisumu, Transnzoia, Bungoma, Kakamega, Isiolo, Nakuru, Garissa, Mandera, Uasin Gishu, Nairobi and Murang’a Counties. A total of 432 individuals were met during the outreach forums.
Public Order Management. During the dialogue sessions, the participants communicated that generally, the National Police Officers were managing public gatherings during the campaigns in a professional manner.
Sexual and Gender-Based Violence. . Cross-cutting factors affecting response and prevention of SGBV cases included cultural factors. For instance, in Isiolo, ‘’mwanamke wa kiBorana Ni kama punda, hana umuhimu sana kwa maisha kama si kuzaa na kutunza watoto’’ village elder This demonstrates some level of discrimination towards women based on their gender. Under, late or non-reporting of identified cases of SGBV was noted as a major setback in responding to SGBV incidences across most counties. Kangaroo Courts/ Maslah were reported to be a hindrance to access to justice. Other factors reported to exacerbate SGBV included:
Elections Preparedness. Low and or lack of civic education cut across as a challenge in most counties. It was also noted that there were cases of politically fueled violence by organized criminal groups/ vigilantes (as reported in Bungoma and Kitale). T Hate leaflets were found in different areas around Kitale. It was reported that different ethnic groups were evicted from workplaces and forced to sell their property and vacate their homes due to the scheduled electioneering process. Exclusion of women in politics as reported in Isiolo County ‘’ saa hizi sisi wanaume tunatembea Na vipande ya mabibi zetu ndio wasipigie watu wabaya Kura’’ Isiolo Elder.
- An increase in reporting of cases of SGBV from Kisii, Narok, Kisumu, and Nairobi through the IMLU Toll-free number.
- Continuous awareness of SGBV response and prevention is to be given priority in all public barazas. CPCs promised to ensure that they have medics as members to ensure that the gaps reported during the processing of victims of SGBV are managed and justice is accessed in Isiolo County.
- Firming up of referral database with partners, CSJCs and CPCs in Nairobi, Machakos, Kisii, Narok, Bungoma and Kakamega.
- Two community peace and awareness dialogues were held in Kongoni (for bodaboda operators) and Migori by Human Rights Defenders on spreading peace and de-escalating perceived violence during the elections period.