NAIROBI, September 8, 2009 (CISA) -A statement issued today by the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (CJPC) on issues of national concern in Kenya:
LET US SAVE OUR NATION
We, the Catholic Justice and Peace Commissioners drawn from all the Catholic dioceses in Kenya, gathered in Mariapolis Centre for our Annual General Meeting from 6th to 10th September, are highly concerned about the following issues that are currently affecting our nation.
Increased Border Conflict
It is with great concern that Catholic Justice and Peace Commission has noted a major increase in border conflicts in Kenya especially our borders with Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia and Uganda. This is worrying because a state that cannot protect its citizens and their sovereignty is a failing state. Such a state does not inspire confidence of its citizens. We urge the government to act swiftly to address border conflicts before they escalate.
Currently, insecurity is rampant in the country and Kenyans have become hostages in their own country. We are concerned about the killing of innocent people by militia, vigilante groups, police and other security forces; increased cases of abduction and carjacking. Recently taxi drivers have been targeted and nothing has been done. Organized violence has destroyed the African identity. This is occurring through incitement, exploitation by the political elite and the inability by a majority in making a living from day to day with about half of the population living below the poverty line. As a result of this there is an increase in the number of widows, widowers and orphans. The Government has a mandate on security and therefore it is her responsibility to ensure that all people living in Kenya are safe and secure. The Government should make sufficient investment in suggested police reforms.
Serious thought and effort needs to be put by the Government and Kenyans towards food security. Currently in this country we have the capacity to feed our country and even other countries but year after year Kenyans still die of starvation. The President has declared drought as a national disaster. As much as the Church is in favour of a free market economy the government should provide a framework that ensures that prices of basic needs such as maize meal, oil, vegetables are within reach for all Kenyans. The time has come for the Government to empower farmers by introducing subsidies in the agricultural sector. Kenyans also have a responsibility to practise good farming methods such as organic farming and contribute to feeding the nation. If the Government is able and willing to pipe oil from Mombasa to neighbouring countries it should equally be able to pump water from water bodies to arid and semi-arid areas in the country for irrigation purposes.
In Genesis 1: 27 – 28, God created man and woman and entrusted them with the goods of the earth for the common good. Unregulated encroachment of the water catchment areas like Mau, Mt. Kenya and Aberdares Forests has adversely affected our country. Rivers, lakes, dams and other water sources are running dry, food is scarce, there is high power rationing, desertification is on the rise and irrigations schemes are in peril.
This problem is urgent and needs to be addressed now and we observe that the two years is too long for the Mau Taskforce. The government needs to come up with a humane policy to resettle Kenyans living in the Mau Forest and other Catchments areas and embark on reforestation. We are called upon to properly utilise our resources not just for ourselves but for future generations in line with the principle of stewardship.
“Our duties towards the environment are linked to our duties towards the human person. It would be wrong to uphold one while trampling the other.” (Pope Benedict XVI Caritas In Veritate)
Internally Displaced Persons
Over a year and a half down the road we still have Internally Displaced Persons scattered across our country in IDP and Transition Camps. Are they really Kenyans when their plight is forgotten? Operation Rudi Nyumbani appears to have become Operation Sahau IDPs. Our brothers and sisters are still sleeping in the cold, hungry, vulnerable and awaiting justice. Let us not forget them and endeavour to improve their situation so that they can feel that they are Kenyans. We urge the Government to look at various concerns of IDPs and resolve the issues amicably once and for all.
The TJRC was conceived to address primarily historical injustices in our country. Transitional justice can only be successful if the all the pillars are there; Accountability, Truth Recovery, Institutional Reforms and Reparations. Justice must be seen to be done at all levels. Justice Delayed is Justice Denied. We ask our leaders to give Kenyans correct information and guidance. There is no “either, or” debate Kenya must have a Special Tribunal to deal with those who bear the greatest responsibility for atrocities committed during the 2007/2008 Post Election Violence; and the masterminds and financiers should go to the International Criminal Court.
For meaningful reconciliation and healing there must be restorative justice for the victims. This is an important process for Kenyans and the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission should be allowed to do its work unfettered.
“Love and Truth will meet; Justice and Peace will kiss. Truth will spring from the earth; Justice will look down from heaven.” (Psalms 85: 11-12)
Implementation/enforcement of commission reports, policies and reforms
Time has come for the government to fully implement the various Commission and Taskforces’ recommendations. The Waki (Post Election Violence), Kriegler (2007 Elections), Ndung’u (Land), Ransley (Police Reforms) and Akiwumi (Ethnic Land Clashes) Reports amongst others must be put into operation.
We note that our country is famous for instituting Commissions and Taskforces on every case or problem that arises without implementation of the recommendations generated thereafter. Surely this is a very poor way of spending public funds?
We commend the Cabinet for ratifying the National Land Policy; it is our hope that this was not just a gimmick to have this crucial and long overdue policy shot down in Parliament. Land is an important component of the economic system. Access and ownership of land should not be limited to private gain; rather, it should be tied to usage and guaranteeing food security for the nation.
Impunity and Corruption
We are concerned about the continued wrong decisions made by the leadership without further reflections on the consequences to the citizenry of Kenya such as the culture of extra-judicial killing, ad hoc creation of districts, looting public coffers, land grabbing and rampant corruption. Decisions are made without consultation and Kenyans views and interests are not taken into consideration. It is our prayer that various appointments are made in the spirit of consultation, transparency and accountability. Unhindered accumulation of wealth amidst a sea of poverty is immoral and contrary to the principle of economic justice.
We are concerned about the raising of the retirement age from 55 years to 60 years; when will qualified young Kenyans get the opportunity to serve?
The Catholic Justice and Peace Commission is currently carrying out Constitutional Education for the public. The Commission is closely following the Road Map to a New Constitution and we appreciate the commitment shown by the Committee of Experts. We call upon all Kenyans to engage meaningfully with the process towards a just and democratic constitution. We are hopeful that the committee will deliver the long awaited constitution for Kenyans.
As the Church, we are called upon to be the voice of the voiceless, and to be in solidarity with the oppressed. The Church’s Social Doctrine becomes judge and defender of unrecognised and violated rights, especially those of the poor, the least and the weak.
“I am the way, the truth and the light” John 16:10
Signed: Archbishop Zacchaeus Okoth, Chairman Catholic Justice and Peace Commission
YOUR SAY: On Catholic Justice and Peace Commission Statement
Your reactions to the statement on national issues published on Tuesday by the Kenya Catholic Justice and Peace Commission:
Thanks a lot for the work you are doing of informing us. I thank the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission for addressing very urgent issues in Kenya, especially environmental conservation (The Mau Forest). I ask the commission to find ways of supporting government plans to remove people from water catchment areas such as the Mau irrespective of what some politicians say. Destruction of forests is the root cause of many social problems facing Kenya today, hence the church must fight for conservation. -Veronica Irungu, Germany
Reading CISA Issue No. 088 of September 8, 2009, I was pleased to see the issues addressed in the statement by the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, including increased border conflict, insecurity, food security and the plight of Internally Displaced Persons.
However, I was very surprised that there was no mention of women, men and children enslaved through human trafficking in any of these situations. Human trafficking is a global problem, and therefore is of utmost significance in the Church’s mission today.
Increasingly, from the pronouncements of our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI to grassroots justice and peace groups in local parishes and religious women and men organized nationally and internationally, the Church is embracing this enormous task of confronting the powerful mafia through which millions of innocent people become trapped in this modern-day slavery. This work cannot be successful without the support of the prayer of the entire church. -Sister Maura O’Donohue MMM