Street Conversations on Peace Kick Off in Rongai

By Fidel Castro

We are at a time when the political anxiety in the country has taken a worrying trajectory, with a rigorous campaign trail and a fast-approaching general election. With such a trend, Crime Si Poa has taken an initiative to engage the youth and members of the society in a street talk on crime and peace ahead of the August general election, in a bid to avert the possibility of violence.

This month the street conversation has been held along the Kware and Mandazi Streets in Ongata Rongai, Kajiado County. Encountering members of society, mostly the youth, has been an eye-opening expedition. We have come across raw issues affecting the community and what would be the reason for unrest in such a time.

 As we traversed the streets of Rongai, it was evident from our interactions that most citizens are pro-peace. They are trying as much as they can to keep calm. However, the mood set by political leaders in the country is to push communities to fight each other to gain political mileage.

“We are peace-loving people, no one wants to cause chaos, we are trying to sensitize ourselves not to cause chaos before, during and after the elections to avert our businesses from being affected by violence,” said Godana, one of the young business people in Rongai, adding “We urge our political leaders to caution themselves against using divisive statements in political rallies. This is what anger supports from different political factions and eventually causes violence.”

Entrepreneurs and business owners lauded the effort by Crime Si Poa to ensure a crime-free society, sighting the urgent need for expanding the good work to the interior parts of Rongai where crime has exasperated.

“I appreciate the work you are doing in our community; indeed, we should keep calm during this electioneering period and continue with our businesses after the elections are done,” Stephen Kenyatta, a garbage collector in Ongata Rongai.

According to the youth and the community members, most youth-related crimes during this electioneering period stem from the lack of job opportunities. The issue of unemployment continues to be a risk to the vision of attaining peace.

“The government should look out for the youth and give us jobs or at least create the opportunities. We are ready to do any work. The youth as well should take personal initiative and create opportunities for themselves.,” Allan Ngare, a business owner.

Crime si Poa continues spreading the peace message through available platforms at whatever cost for we believe that peace is a jewel worth paying the price for.

1200 Kenyan Youth Cover a 600km Walk for Peace

By Fidel Castro

Peace Walk in Nairobi CBD

Over 600 Kilometers were covered, with 12 counties across Kenya visited in 21 days, full of sweat, hunger, thirst, pain, joy, and finally fulfilment. This is the tail of the 1200 peace ambassadors who began their journey on Tuesday, June 28, 2022, preaching peace from Kakamega and culminating it with the final stretch at Sarakasi Dome in Nairobi.

Despite the long trek having a myriad of challenges and a couple of humbling moments, the final stretch was home. The young Kenyas led by a team of 5, took up a rigorous campaign in such a demanding political season. 

According to Yvonne Murugi, one of the members of the Peace Ambassadors Kenya, completion of the peace walk was made possible by the immense support they got from well-wishers and partnering organizations may it be in-kind, financial, or motivation. 

“Completing 600KM huge milestone for all peace champions across the country. Finishing the last mile was made possible by donations, support,  d goodwill from Kenyans. We were highly motivated by the words of Dwight D. Eisenhower, “We seek peace, knowing that peace is the climate of freedom,” said Murugi. 

Murugi further stated that with the fast-approaching general elections, a lot is expected from every citizen in the realization of the county having peaceful elections. 

“Peace is an invaluable asset, it can only be guaranteed by everyone playing their role. As peace ambassadors, we are doing our part of spreading the peace word across the nation. As a law-abiding citizen do your part,” added Murugi. 

Speaking during the awarding of the medals at Sarakasi Dome, Dr. Vincent Makokha, Director, Chaplaincy Counselling Psycho-Social Support, Kenya National Police Service assured the youth of their support as they continue spreading the message of peace. 

“As the National Police Service Kenya, we are proud of you. To fellow officers in the service, thank you for supporting young people throughout the entire stretch of the long walk by ensuring their security is taken care of to complete this noble cause,” said Dr. Makokha adding “We appreciate the great gesture from the church as well, your support contributed immensely to ensuring the young people are motivated to complete the tough walk.”   

He also expressed the need for the mainstream media to be present in such campaigns. “My call to the media is to tell the world of the great things the young people are doing. Stop showing the negative aspect only. This is one of the greatest ventures of this year by the youth. The youth is a huge investment in this County,” he lamented. 

Prof Joseph Galgalo, Bishop, Anglican Church of Kenya, lauded the efforts put in place by the young generation in spreading the message of peace, contrary to the norm of young people being commonly known for instigating and causing violence. 

“There are people who are giving hope, standing for peace and saying things can be different, things can be better and they have come together, particularly this group Peace ambassador of Kenya, to do several activities to sensitize the youth not to be used, and not to cause in conflict or violence Peace and unity in their communities,” said Prof. Galgalo. 

While receiving the peace walk flag from the peace ambassadors, Jacob Ouma, Deputy County Commissioner, Starehe reminded the audience of the terrible ordeal Kenyans find themselves in after every five years. The perilous and gory times when tribal conflicts and killings are usually on the rise and the pain of those times. He pleaded with everyone to carry the message of peace to their respective neighborhoods.

“We have a beautiful nation, only a fool can break down and distort such a beauty. We all have a stake in this nation and must protect it jealously.  No one should distance themself from this venture. Let us hold our hands together and push to the end. When we attain a peaceful environment all of us will be at peace. ,” the DCC concluded. 

Empowering inmates with legal skills to defend themselves in court

Paralegal Training at Nairobi West Prison

Crime Si Poa, under its Access to Justice Program today concluded a two-week (13th to 24th June) paralegal training in Nairobi West Prison that consisted of 40 inmates, both those on remand and convicted persons.

The group was taken through the workings of the criminal justice system which included the trial process, essentials of a fair trial, law of evidence, appeals, and reviews among others, to help them provide better arguments for their cases and get better rulings.

Most inmates in Kenya do not have access to proper legal representation which negatively affects their cases resulting in harsh rulings or worst-case scenario wrongful convictions.

According to Sylvia Morwabe, Program Manager, Access to Justice, the training will empower the inmates with legal knowledge and enable them to effectively follow their cases as they undergo trial.

“The paralegal training, we have been conducting for the last 2 weeks at the Nairobi West Prison in partnership with Strathmore University Law Clinic will help inmates have a fair trial and better access to justice,” said Sylvia.

This training has been made possible by our partners AIG, Global Fund for Children, The Kenya Prisons Service, and the National Paralegal Society of Kenya.

“Thousands of innocent people who have gone through the prison system, have been discharged thanks to programs like this,” said Derrick a lawyer from Strathmore University Law Clinic as he encouraged the inmates to stay positive during the training.

Derrick, further stated that the training equips the inmates with the courage to appear before the court and arms them with the possible answers to arguments likely to be raised in court by the lawyers from the Director of Public Prosecutions Office.

Kalonzo a warden at Nairobi West Prison expressed the importance of paralegal training in equipping the inmates on how to handle the court process.

“From this training, I believe many of the inmates will learn how to answer questions and successfully represent themselves in court,” he said.

Nairobi West is the first prison we work in to benefit from paralegal training. Our goal is to reach 10 prisons and equip them with the much-needed knowledge and skills.

The March For Peaceful Elections Begins

Over 50 members of Crime Si Poa (CSP) youth networks in Nakuru County today joined 1200 Peace Ambassadors in the Rift Vallley leg for a walk to preach peace ahead of the August 8 general elections in Kenya.

The walk that was flagged off in Kakamega on the 10th of June by Archbishop  Jackson Ole Sapit,  Primate of the Anglican Church of Kenya, will culminate in a major peace rally at the Sarakasi Dome in Nairobi on the 28th June 2022 after 21 days traversing twelve counties in five major regions with the peace message.  During the walk, the peace ambassadors engaged fellow Kenyans on the need to uphold peace before, during, and after the general election

The Nakuru leg of the walk which attracted large public goodwill was joined in Bahati Constituency by the local MP Hon Kimani Ngunjiri who implored the youth not to be manipulated by politicians during this electioneering period and encouraged them to continue advocating for peace.

According to Alvin Kisara, one of the CSP Nakuru County youth leaders, a clarion call during this peace walk is for the youth and the general public to shun crime, promote unity in diversity and accept divergent opinions, embrace oneness, and ensure peaceful and violence-free elections.

The peace walk aims at sensitizing communities on the need to avoid spaces where political players whip emotions and incite the public against one another for their own political mileage and self-gain. 

“We are excited to take part in the peace walk at a time we have begun seeing youth engaging in politically instigated violence and other forms of crimes in Nakuru and Kenya at large. As Kenyan youth, this is the best time to rewrite the history of the violent elections through leading by example and ensuring we protect and peacefully guard the democratic space in our country,” said Alvin.

“Crime Si Poa youth have been doing groundwork in ensuring young people, engaging in the August General elections whether as voters, campaigners and or as aspirants do not cause violence. Instead, they will be actively involved in violence prevention and cohesion promotion,” concluded Alvin. 

With the 2022 elections days away, a wind of political agitation is sweeping over the country causing tension and having adverse effects on national cohesion as well as the economy, something the peace walk hopes to mitigate. 

The walk is organized by the Peace Ambassadors Integration Organization (PAMBIO) in partnership with the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government and Crime Si Poa.

Urgent need to curb youth involvement in election violence 

The involvement of youth in election violence in Kenya has been on an increase, a worrying trend as the country nears elections. Politicians from different political parties vying for various positions in the August 9th election have been accused of ferrying youth to political opponent’s rallies to cause havoc and disruptions. 

Speaking during an interview with Sema Na Citizen TVon Friday,  afternoon, Halima Guyo, Project Officer, Crime Si Poa, cautioned the youth against being engaged in political violence due to the severe consequences that follow thereafter. 

“Every electioneering year we witness tens of youth if not a hundred jailed for political-related crimes in Kenya. Already this year a couple of young people are behind bars for such crimes. This can be avoided. Youth must stand for peace and instead ask for manifestos that will help alleviate their lives,” said Halima. 

She further urged the youth to take time and know about individual responsibility and the long-term effect of anything they do. Adding that the youth should avoid being used to committing political violence that will hurt their future employability.

Young people should look beyond elections and the little money they are being given to cause violence. You will need to have good conduct and reputation when seeking job opportunities. Do not allow political acts to put you in the bad books of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations”, added Halima. 

According to Kenneth Kigunda, Crime Si Poa, Communication Specialist Political Analyst, there is a need for the communities to build cohesion amongst themselves and with law enforcement for a speedier resolution of conflicts emerging from the high political temperature in the country.

“In this elections period, we must be on the lookout for people intending to cause trouble. We also need to stop politicians from transporting violence across borders as we have found out that most of those who commit political mayhem don’t come from the locations in which they happen,” lamented Kigunda.

Crime Si Poa is currently holding community forums and paralegal training sessions under Acess to Justice Program in partnership with the criminal justice system across the major cities in Kenya to create awareness among the youth on ways to mitigate crime. 

Death Penalty- Dead in practice

The launch of a two-part report by The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) in partnership with the Death Penalty Project, on Tuesday in Nairobi is a huge milestone in the achievement of the abolition of the capital sentence campaign in Kenya.

The report shows that a majority of the Kenyan public is open to the abolition of the hang man’s noose law, as well as the country’s opinion formers, are overwhelmingly in favour of such change.

“In countries that retain the death penalty, governments often cite public support as a key argument against abolition, yet with Kenya, the findings of this research do not support that claim,” said Parvais Jabbar, Co-Executive Director, The Death Penalty Project.

Jabbar further stated that there has been a shift away from the death penalty across Africa, most recently in Sierra Leone, with new plans to abolish announced in Zambia and the Central African Republic.

“It is possible that Zimbabwe and Ghana too will make similar announcements by the end of the year. We hope that we will also see Kenya take steps to remove capital punishment soon and that our research can support policymakers as they consider this important issue,” he added.

Kenya is among the minority of countries that continue to retain the death penalty in law, yet it has not executed any person since 1987. After nearly 35 years without an execution, the new research that sheds light on public openness to abolition might help Kenya to abolish capital punishment.

 “The government should rehabilitate the inmates instead of putting them under the death penalty. This is not the only way to punish convicts. Instead, they should be reformed so they become better people in society. Everyone has the right to live. “We should respect life in any circumstance,” said Dr Raymond Nyeris, KNCHR, Vice Chairman.

He further explained the death penalty is inhuman and is contrary to human rights as life is a fundamental right of everyone.

In 2017, the country’s supreme court declared the mandatory death penalty unconstitutional and since the introduction of discretionary sentencing, the number of death sentences imposed has reduced. However, to date, over 600 people remain on death row.

An irreversible sentence that should be abolished in Kenya  

Have you wondered what happens to inmates on death row? Is the death penalty, whose punishment is to hang, still applicable in Africa amidst robust constitutions and ratified statutory laws? What if one was wrongfully convicted?

This among other human rights conversations emerged during a two-day seminar on the abolition of the death penalty in Africa held on the 30th and 31st May 2022 in Nairobi by ECPM (Together against the death penalty) in partnership with Crime Si Poa (CSP).

Speaking during the regional seminar that brought together abolitionist actors from six different countries: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone, Wilfred Nderitu SC, Chairperson at Crime Si Poa, called for the abolition of the death sentence in Kenya and Africa at large stating that one of the greatest risks of the Death Penalty is that it is an irreversible sentence.

“Innocent persons are at risk of being put on death row for fabricated allegations. We have had instances where people have been wrongfully convicted and consequently face execution. This is mostly witnessed in countries that are going through political war, violence and instability,” said Nderitu.

His statement was affirmed by a powerful testimony from Susan Kigula a former death row inmate from Uganda. Kigula was sentenced to death but later pardoned. She was wrongly accused of murdering her husband and her sentence was based on a testimony given by a three-year-old witness. Her traumatic experience led her to be a champion in the fight for the abolition of the death penalty in Uganda.

Despite such powerful testimonies and arguments, various countries in Africa are still unable to pass a bill to abolish the death penalty due to key challenges faced among them the lack of support from the public.

In countries such as DRC, citizens believe that the death penalty discourages criminals from committing massacres. Despite the lack of proof, such sentiments are the root cause of the reluctance by governments to be abolitionists.

 According to Samson Omondi of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, there is a need for abolitionists to make the death sentence abolition conversation all-inclusive to gather support from the public. 

“In most cases, the conversation against the Death Penalty is led by lawyers. Let us broaden the conversation to the public to ensure that our society is part and parcel of the Abolition of the Death Penalty,” he said.

Despite a majority of countries in Africa still enforcing the death penalty, most states consider the death penalty a human rights violation that poses a substantial risk. The African continent has shown remarkable reform speed on the abolition of the death penalty issues over the past decade.

“Since 2015, six African countries have abolished the death penalty. Despite a de facto moratorium, The EU believes that Kenya should take steps to abolish the death penalty once and for all,” stated Henriette Geiger, Ambassador of the European Union (EU) in Kenya.

The two days seminar included parliamentarians, human rights institutions, civil society representatives, actors in the criminal justice system, former death row inmates as well as youth in the fight of making Africa the next abolitionist continent.

Youth Call for Safer Cities in Africa

Youth in Kisumu City champion for crime free cities during the commencement of the 9th Africities 2022 Summit yesterday in Kisumu County. Over 100 youth led by the Crime Si Poa leadership team displayed and chanted strong messages calling for African leaders to ensure safer cities for development.

Young people in Africa have been acknowledged as key stakeholders and drivers of safer cities that will steer development, creation of opportunities for the youth and full implementation of United Nations Agenda 2030 & African Union Agenda 2063.

According to Peter Ouko, Executive Director, Crime Si Poa, there is a need for youth engagement in the implementation of government policies and approaches that will help combat crime to ensure safer cities in Kenya and Africa at large.

“Safer cities mean more investment opportunities for those who create jobs. Safer cities definitely translate to more job opportunities for young people. Because investors love predictability, they love security and availability of all the networks that can allow them not only produce the work they do but also ensure workers who work for them are safe and their product can reach the market safely as well,” said Pete adding, “Safer cites means better living and better living means we have to have less crime in our communities.”

Urbanization of African countries and especially Kenya, has seen rapid growth of informal settlements, accompanied by increased levels of crime, violence and lawlessness. People living in the cities face these vices on a daily basis posing a major challenge to the social and economic growth of the cities.

“Instead of young people involving themselves in crime, they should position themselves and take advantage of the opportunities arising in their cities such as the Africities event to make a living out of it,” Said Isaiah Okethi, Kamakowa Jamtaka CBO, Leader.

The Africities Summit 2022 brings together dignitaries and participants from across Africa that seek to strengthen the role of Local and Regional Governments as well as the integration and unity of the continent.

Body Shaming is a Harmful Culture, it’s a Matter of Shame

BY Claire Kwamboka

Anyone can be a victim of body shaming, and anyone can be a body-shamer. In Kenya and the world at large body shaming, is so prevalent in everyday life, but it has not been looked at as the highly problematic behaviour that it is. Most often, people would think of it as harmless jokes, rather than cruel bards that hurt deep.

What people need to know is that body-shaming is an indication of discrimination and social bias based on outside appearances. Body shaming refers to saying something negative about a person’s body. The comment can be about age, size, hair, clothes, food, looks and all those aspects that represent a human. It amounts to humiliation and it brings down self-respect and feelings or ideas that our unique appearance is not good enough.

What most Kenyans do not know is that body shaming is a form of bullying that can result in emotional trauma, especially among young people. Body shaming most of the time is done by our friends, family, workmates, random people in the streets and even the media. It could be done knowingly or unknowingly.

The most common cause of body shaming is weight. A person might be cruised for their size, shape, height or colour. In the society that we live in today, someone will be criticized for their looks. What we forget is that no one is ever perfect, you are either too skinny or plus size. The pressure from the media and society makes people want to look in a certain way.

The negative comments that people make about someone can cause people, especially teenagers to engage in unhealthy habits so that they can achieve their goal of looking a certain way. These unhealthy habits can include starving yourself or wanting to bleach which can lead to self-harm, depression, low self-esteem and even trauma.

Women most of the time are very sensitive when it comes to weight. People have different struggles for example some people struggle with losing weight and gaining weight. Such issues make people delicate and when we keep commenting and laughing it brings a feeling of insecurity.

Society today has encouraged a culture where body-shaming is a normal thing. People will make jokes and even call you in the streets by describing your looks. People get jobs based on their looks.

This is a culture that is unhealthy and tends to be detrimental in the long run.  We can overcome body shaming by trying to nurture an environment where everyone feels comfortable with their body shape and skin tone. We must learn not to comment on how people look. Learning to accept the way we are bringing positive body image. Accepting the way, we are and not comparing ourselves with other people’s physical appearance or personality. Lastly eating healthy food, keeping hydrated and exercising.

Mathare Youth take to the Streets to Champion for Peace

Youth in Mathare held a Crime and Peace Awareness Campaign Walk to advocate for peace in the area. The campaign, an initiative by Crime Si Poa in partnership with Footprints for Change and Generation Shapers, was in a bid to address the high crime rate in the region.
“Mathare has for a long time been marked as a high-risk area community with cases of theft and robbery with violence on the rise. Young people between the age of 16 to 25 in are being recruited into gangs wreaking havoc in the,” said Ruth Wambui, Crime Si Poa, Community Engagement Officer, adding. “There is therefore need to take action and build cohesion within the community to cultivate peace in the area.”
“Last year a good number of my friends were killed due to crime,” shared Benard a high school student in Mathare who took part in the Peace and Crime awareness campaign. “Crime has hindered many of my friends from achieving their dreams. Majority of them end up using drugs and later engaging in crime. It is time we put a stop to this,” he added.

According to David Lichuma a member of the generation shapers, youth should stand for peace and desire to see a change in Mathare. This was a shared sentiment among many youth members who were at the forefront of the campaign.

“As youth we are saying enough is enough. We must have peace in our hood. We have lost so many of our friends to crime. We don’t want to lose more,” said Lichuma.
The message of peace resonated with majority of the community members, inspiring some to come forward and speak up against crime. Most of the community members called for peace to allow businesses within the area to flourish.
“You don’t have to be a criminal just because you were born in Mathare, there is hope of making a better life for yourself. I was once a criminal, but I reformed, you can also choose to lead a crime-free life,” said Pastor Philip a known community member who encouraged the youth to change their mindsets.

Assistant Chief Mabatini Ward Mugu Njogu, was happy and encouraged to see the youth come together to advocate for peace. He appreciated Crime Si Poa and the partners for coming up with the campaign initiative.

“This peace walk has come at the right time. We urged everyone both the women and men in the community to join the young people in advocating for peace in Mathare,” he concluded.