A prominent Kenyan human rights activist and lawyer whose own organization was de-listed by Kenyan authorities last week says he was detained Sunday morning at a Nairobi airport and surprised by demands that he prove he was cleared to travel.
Maina Kiai, board member of the Kenya Human Rights Commission NGO, planned a trip to Amsterdam from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. The former United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights was held up in what officials say was a “routine procedure,” but Kiai, a private citizen, was taken aback by security demands for his departure.
“I think we are back to the dark era when officials would do anything because of your perceived political affiliation,” Kiai said in an interview with the Standard. “We have to resist this.”
The Kenya Human Rights Commission has denied allegations of tax evasion leveled against the NGO in the immediate wake of the August 8 elections, which saw President Uhuru Kenyatta win another term against primary challenger Raila Odinga of the Nasa political opposition coalition. Odinga plans to challenge the results.
The KHRC also denied charges of illegal employment practices, and believes any de-listing of the NGO is politically motivated.
A fiery Kiai said last week that Kenyan civil society actors in general were finding “a number of inconsistencies around the election.” He said the activities of the KHRC are conducted transparently, and the group has been meeting openly and without any secrets on the de-registration and other issues.
The KHRC recently celebrated 25 years as a human rights organization.
“As for me personally, I’ve been involved in this struggle for many many years,” Kiai said during last week’s press conference. “If they want to arrest me I’m here.”