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Archive for December 8th, 2010

Ouko killed at State House, says report

Posted by Administrator on December 8, 2010

The then minister for Labour Dr Robert Ouko addresses the crowd during Madaraka Day in June 1984. Photo/FILE

The then minister for Labour Dr Robert Ouko addresses the crowd during Madaraka Day in June 1984. Photo/FILE

A parliamentary report prepared five years ago sensationally claims former Foreign Affairs Minister Robert Ouko was killed at State House, Nakuru.

The report, prepared by a team of MPs led by former Kisumu Town East’s Gor Sunguh, says Dr Ouko was assassinated after he fell out with a powerful minister in the regime of retired President Moi during a tour of the United States.

The report was tabled in Parliament on Wednesday. It proposes that key personalities in retired President Moi’s government, who were involved in the disappearance and killing of Dr Ouko, be investigated.

The committee zeroes in on four individuals including Mr Nicholas Biwott, a former minister, for their role in the murder.

The report claims that Dr Ouko had already been sacked and his security detail withdrawn a week before he disappeared.

Dr Ouko is said to have fallen out with Mr Biwott, a powerful ally of Mr Moi, while on a tour of Washington with the former president.

The two were involved in a confrontation on the visit after Mr Biwott sarcastically referred to Dr Ouko as “Mr President”.

The report says that the committee received evidence to the effect that Mr Biwott and former Nyanza PC Julius Kobia were present as Dr Ouko was abducted by police and intelligence agents.

It further alleges that he was bundled into Mr Kobia’s car and driven to State House, Nakuru, where he was killed in the presence of Mr Biwott among others. His body was then dumped near his Koru home.

A herdsboy identified as Mr Shikuku discovered the body at the foot of Got Alila, on February 13 and the matter reported to the Provincial Administration.

However, the report says the government announced the “discovery” on February 16 — three days later — “allowing for the burning of the body and interference with the scene”.

The report says that the trip to Washington worsened relations between Dr Ouko and the former president and his attempts to see the latter over the issue were futile.

Dr Ouko finally secured an appointment with Mr Moi at State House in Nairobi on February 5, eight days before his disappearance.

“Dr Ouko visited State House and met the former president who gave him off-duty and directed him to rest at his Koru farm; apparently Dr Ouko had already been sacked,” says the report.

The report adds that Dr Ouko’s official car was withdrawn and returned to the ministry and his bodyguards were also recalled.

His passport had been withheld at the airport after the Washington trip, the report claims.

The Parliamentary Committee recommended that the government investigates the incidents and people at the ministry at the time, naming former PS Bethuel Kiplagat and a Mr Malacki Oddenyo.

The report claims Mr Biwott was among people who should be investigated over their role in Dr Ouko’s death.

Others are Hezekiah Oyugi who was Internal Security PS and has since died, Mr Kobia (also dead) and former Nakuru DC Jonah Anguka.

The report claims that the Got Alila scene of crime was tampered with and items brought there to simulate suicide.

It points to an attempt by authorities to cover up the killing and also calls for investigations into the conduct of the then Police Commissioner

Philip Kilonzo (he has since died) and other senior police officers in Nyanza province.

A number of people who were linked to the investigation into the killing have since died.

The report recommends that the bodies of these individuals be exhumed to ascertain the cause of their death.

Source: http://www.nation.co.ke/News/politics/Ouko%20killed%20at%20State%20House%20says%20report%20/-/1064/1068868/-/as0vdcz/-/index.html


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Opinion: Homosexuality cannot be in the genes

Posted by Administrator on December 8, 2010

By Francis Oyieko

It is still anyone’s guess why Prime Minister Raila Odinga decided to broach the controversial gay debate. Could he have been pushed by some cleric or had he been informed of some clandestine goings-on among the youth in his Lang’ata backyard?

Although he has since denied ordering the arrest of gay couples, he has maintained that homosexuality is unlawful in Kenya. From his speech at the rally, it was also clear he abhors the practice.

So, is Mr Odinga trying to have his cake and eat it too or could this be a sign that the reality of some of the clauses in the new Constitution are finally sinking in?

One of the reasons many people gave for opposing the draft constitution was that it apparently “legitimised” homosexuality, among other moral concerns.

Whenever these concerns were raised, the ‘Yes’ camp would dismiss ‘No’ campaigners as liars. But a critical study of the document revealed that we would have to “learn to live with men who have sex with other men and women who have sex with other women”.

Under the new Constitution, homosexuals and lesbians are considered to be a minority group, and their rights and freedoms are protected under the Bill of Rights. Specifically, Article 27(4) prohibits discrimination on any grounds, including sexual preference.

However, the drama that followed Mr Odinga’s comments has made us lose sight of the need for sober debate on the place of same-sex unions in our society.

Personally, I hold the view that as a society, we should respect and treat homosexuals with dignity. This is for the simple reason that they are human beings.

However, we should not approve of their lifestyle because it is against the order of nature. And in their heart, most gays know it. Maybe the only problem is that they don’t know how to get out of it.

It is unfortunate that rather than listen to the concerns of society, gays and their supporters brand those who hold contrary opinion crass, insensitive, homophobic, bigoted and intolerant.

I listened to a very interesting live debate about “homosexuality and the church” on a Christian radio station last year. The host got the shock of his life when people confessing to be gay started calling in, not only to discuss their sexual orientation, but to proudly talk about “their faith in Christ”.

“I am gay and Christian. And I don’t believe it is a sin,” one said, maintaining that people do not choose to be gay.

One is compelled to ask which Bible they believe in, for the one Christians live by condemns homosexuality in no uncertain terms and clearly calls it sin.

The callers argued that homosexuality was in their genes. But the truth is that study after study has shattered that myth and concluded there is no scientific evidence of a gay gene, which establishes a predisposition to homosexual behaviour.

But suppose, just suppose, there was a genetic connection, would that justify gay “marriage”? If it was established that there was a genetic connection to criminal behaviour, would that excuse crime?

What our gay brothers and sisters forget is that human beings, unlike animals, are not meant to live life by base instincts. Instead, we live by some set standards by which to control our desires.

We all have desires and appetites — some very weird. But that is no excuse to do whatever we please. Any desire and appetite will have its own destructive consequences if uncontrolled. Unchecked sexual appetite is no exception.

Mr Ayieko is the editor of ‘The Shepherd’, a monthly Christian publication. (francisayieko@yahoo).com

Source: Daily Nation

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Trapped in Lebanon: Foreign Domestic Workers With No Rights or Way Home

Posted by Administrator on December 8, 2010

Most workers have only one day off per week. Even then, their employers often forbid them to leave the house.

Most workers have only one day off per week. Even then, their employers often forbid them to leave the house.

When Rose Adhiambo left Kenya for a job in Lebanon, she could have never imagined that six months later she would be returning home in a coffin.

Twenty-four-year-old Adhiambo did what many poor young women around the world do: she left her homeland in search of a better life abroad. This brought her to Interlead Limited, a Kenyan website that promises to help “job seekers to find top jobs.

What the Interlead Limited website did not say was that Adhiambo would be working as a maid in slave-like conditions. Her parents, who live in Nairobi, thought their daughter had gotten a plum job in the Middle East. It wasn’t until the girl called and complained about her employer’s treatment that the family knew there was a problem. Adhimabo told her aunt, Margaret Olwande, that she planned to escape. “Tomorrow is the D-Day. Please pray for me,” she said to Olwande in a telephone call in August, according to The Standard, a Kenyan newspaper that covered the story.

Two weeks later, the body of an unnamed Kenyan migrant worker–presumed to be Adhiambo–was found on the first floor balcony of a building in Beirut’s Sahel Alma neighborhood. A Lebanese newspaper, Al-Akhbar, reported that the worker had fallen from the sixth floor while trying to escape her employer’s house by hanging from a nylon rope.

Adhiambo’s relatives have still not been able to locate her body, though the employer, speaking through an agent, did confirm her death. The Lebanese consulate in Nairobi gave Adhiambo’s family the names of four hospitals, all of which claimed they did not have her remains.

But the clearest indication of how little Interlead Limited cares about Adhiambo came when The Standard contacted the organization following her death: “Our business ends after we find a sponsor (employer),” said Ali Muhamad, managing director of the agency.

Unfortunately, Adhiambo’s death was not an anomaly. Human Rights Watch estimates there are 200,000 migrant domestic workers employed in Lebanon, primarily from Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, the Philippines, and Nepal. The vast majority are women. The money earned by these workers is a booming business for their countries: migrant domestic workers in Lebanon alone sent over $90 million overseas in the first half of 2009.

Recruitment agencies in the workers’ home countries are responsible for the abuse as well. Many lure vulnerable young women with tales of lucrative jobs in far-off cities. Human Rights Watch reports that agency fees are usually paid in the country of origin by the women wishing to migrate. These fees, which range from $200 to $315, must be paid before departure. Many women cannot afford the fees, so they end up going into debt before they even arrive at their jobs. Often their first few months’ salary goes toward repaying the money.

Once these women arrive in Lebanon, they are given a standard contract in Arabic, which most cannot read. It typically offers less money than the original contract and sets stricter terms. Although the Lebanese Ministry of Labor initiated a standard contract in January 2009, outlining the responsibilities of the employers to the workers, there are still loopholes: while workers are entitled to a day of rest, it is up to the employers whether they have the right to leave the house on their days off. 

And the kafeel, or sponsorship, system that binds a migrant domestic worker in Lebanon to a specific employer is rife with abuse. Lebanese labor laws exclude migrant domestic workers from protections such as paid leave, benefits, workers’ compensation, and a guaranteed minimum wage. If a worker leaves an employer for any reason (even if she is being abused), she loses her legal status in the country and risks being detained, fined, and deported. Even lodging a complaint against her employer can mean risking her job and even her life.

Many employers and labor agencies also instill fear in workers by confiscating their passports, which makes their already fragile legal status even more precarious. In a case that HRW investigated, a judge in Beirut dismissed a complaint two women had brought against their recruitment agency for taking their passports. The judge defended his dismissal by saying, “It is natural for the employer to confiscate the maid’s passport and keep it with him, in case she tries to escape from his house to work in another without compensating him.”

These abuses lead many to try to run away. HRW found that, on average, at least one migrant domestic worker dies every week in Lebanon. In August 2010 alone there were six deaths. These deaths are primarily due to suicides or bungled escapes–many, like Adhiambo’s, falls from high buildings.

I recently spent an afternoon at an agency in a suburb of Beirut, watching a secretary shouting at a 24-year old migrant domestic worker from Madagascar. After one year of a three-year contract, the worker had refused to go back to her employer because she missed her 3-year-old child back home.

“Did you read the contract before you signed it?” the secretary demanded. “Did you read it?”

The girl dug through her bag and pulled out a brown envelope, showing the secretary a piece of paper. The secretary waved the paper in the air, pointing at the girl’s signature. “Did you sign this?” she asked. “Did you know what it said when you signed it? Did you read it?”

The reality was that if the worker did not go back to her job–and could not find the money for her return plane ticket–she would most likely be placed in a detention center until her embassy or a non-governmental organization came to her rescue. From there she would be deported, but not before being imprisoned for an indeterminate amount of time in an overcrowded, hot, dirty cell with minimal food.

I visited two different detention centers in Beirut–Verdun and Adlieh–to meet with domestic workers who had been detained for allegedly running away or committing crimes such as theft against their employers. At both centers, young women depended on friends and strangers to bring them necessities like water, a toothbrush, and sufficient meals. For those without friends and family in Lebanon, their time in detention was far less bearable.

Some countries are taking action. The Philippines, Ethiopia, and Nepal have banned their citizens from going to Lebanon to work, but poverty has pushed many to ignore the bans. Meanwhile, there has been some progress in other parts of the region: Jordan recently amended its labor law to include migrant domestic workers, guaranteeing protections afforded to other workers. In Bahrain, the law requires that there be no more than two weeks between court hearings, meaning that most cases can be resolved in three months.

But in Lebanon, migrant domestic workers remain beholden to employers who have complete control over their destinies. The truth of the matter, explains Nadim Houry, the Beirut director at Human Rights Watch, is that it’s not just a question of changing the laws–it’s also a question of implementing the laws. “These are abuses that are happening behind closed doors in the home,” he says. “And the government is reluctant to interfere.”
Source: http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2010/12/trapped-in-lebanon-foreign-domestic-workers-with-no-rights-or-way-home/67479/

Posted in Diaspora News | 1 Comment »

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