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Viewing cable 06NAIROBI1090, JUSTICE MINISTER WON'T QUESTION POLICE RAID

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06NAIROBI1090 2006-03-09 08:08 2011-02-27 23:11 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Nairobi
Appears in these articles:
http://www.the-star.co.ke/
VZCZCXYZ0034
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHNR #1090/01 0680830
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 090830Z MAR 06
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0178
INFO RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA PRIORITY 8286
RUEHDR/AMEMBASSY DAR ES SALAAM PRIORITY 4526
RUEHDJ/AMEMBASSY DJIBOUTI PRIORITY 4021
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA PRIORITY 1194
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1894
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1873
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA  PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L NAIROBI 001090 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
LONDON AND PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHERS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/05/2026 
TAGS: PREL PHUM PGOV KDEM KE
SUBJECT: JUSTICE MINISTER WON'T QUESTION POLICE RAID 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William Bellamy for reasons 1.4 (b,d) 
 
(This is a retransmission of Nairobi 1003 to correct 
formatting errors.) 
1. (C) SUMMARY: Justice Minister Karua refuses to criticize 
the police raids on the Standard Media Group, even going so 
far as to assert that it might have been justified on 
"national security" grounds.  Karua's main concern seems to 
be that she and other cabinet members were not consulted 
beforehand. END SUMMARY. 
 
2. (C) In the wake of the March 2 police assault on the 
Standard Media Group, the Swedish Ambassador, Dutch charge 
and I met with Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister 
Karua and her permanent secretary, Dorothy Angote, March 3. 
(Note:  Within the World Bank-led donor coordinating group in 
Nairobi, Sweden, the Netherlands and the US co-chair the 
sectoral committee on justice and constitutional issues. End 
Note.) 
 
3. (C) As a group we expressed dismay at the March 2 police 
action and asked what steps the GOK planned to take to 
distance itself from this lawlessness, discipline those 
responsible and restore public confidence in the GOK's 
commitment to freedom of the press. 
 
4. (C) Karua's  responses over the course of the hour-long 
meeting were not reassuring: 
 
-- Although she was disturbed by the police raid, her chief 
lament was that it had not been coordinated in any way within 
government.  Security Minister Michuki appeared to have acted 
on this own.  Actions as serious as this, Karua said, ought 
to be the subject of cabinet consultations. 
 
-- Karua blamed the international community for too quickly 
&making up its mind8 and issuing statements that condemned 
the government.  Until she had more facts, she was not 
prepared even to admit that the police were responsible for 
the raid or, if they were, that they had acted outside the 
law. 
 
-- Security Minister Michuki had mentioned that national 
security issues were involved.  If so, perhaps the police had 
good reason to act as they did, even if their methods were a 
bit excessive. 
 
-- As for reports that police had burned thousands of copies 
of the Standard, Karua denied that that had happened.  She 
suspected the Standard's editors had burned the papers 
themselves &to discredit the police.8 
 
-- When the Swedish Ambassador joked that the image the GOK 
had created for itself was so bad that one could almost 
believe political opponents had mounted the raid to discredit 
the government, Karua stunned us by replying that &she 
couldn't rule that out.8 
 
-- She added that Kenya had a &rogue8 press and something 
had to be done to bring press practices into line with laws 
and regulations. 
 
5. (C) I told Karua that March 2 had been a bad day for the 
rule of law in Kenya, for freedom of the press in Kenya, for 
the reputation of Kenya's security services who had acted 
like thugs, and for Kenya's international standing.  I said 
it was a shame that the one mention Kenya might get this year 
in the editorial pages of the New York Times, Washington Post 
or Wall Street Journal would be an expression of disgust and 
censure. 
 
6. (C) Comment: Of all GOK ministers Karua should be most 
concerned about the extrajudicial behavior of the police and 
the very negative signals it sends about the Kibaki 
government's commitment to the rule of law.  Yet she was 
ambivalent at best.  (Note: Two days later, she is quoted in 
the Kenyan press as having concluded that the raid was 
lawful. End note.)  Although she still lacked some 
information about the raid, her instinct was to search for 
ways to justify it and shift the onus of responsibility on to 
the press. 
 
7. (C) No responsible GOK voice has spoken out to acknowledge 
that there was anything wrong with the March 2 attack on the 
Standard or to reassure the public that steps are being taken 
to prevent it from happening again.  Indeed, this may be only 
an opening move in a campaign to intimidate critics and 
opponents of an increasingly shaky and directionless Kibaki 
administration.  Kibaki himself has had absolutely nothing to 
say about the worst credibility crisis of his Presidency or 
the alleged serious &national security8 threats his 
security minister claims to have thwarted.  End Comment. 
BELLAMY