Nairobi - Activists viewed as supporting international
crimes against humanity trials of Kenya's leaders are facing growing attacks,
Human Rights Watch said on Friday, calling on the government to stem such
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto
face trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against
humanity for their alleged roles in Kenya's 2007-2008 post-election violence.
"During recent months, there have been growing reports
of harassment, attacks, and threats toward human rights activists and people
thought to be witnesses for the prosecution in the ICC cases," HRW said,
calling the attacks "part of an overall climate of hostility in Kenya
toward the ICC process".
The trial of Ruto, along with radio boss Joshua Arap Sang,
began in The Hague-based ICC on 10 September.
Kenyatta's trial is set to start on 12 November.
"The government should make clear that it won't
tolerate intimidation and violence against those who speak their minds,"
the New York-based rights group added in a statement.
On 2 October, the ICC unsealed an arrest warrant against a
Kenyan journalist, Walter Barasa, on witness tampering charges.
Barasa is alleged to be acting on the basis of a
"criminal scheme devised by a circle of officials within the Kenyan
administration," according to an ICC statement.
Police last month said a gang had threatened to torch the
home of prominent activist Maina Kiai, the former head of the state-funded
Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, after false reports on blogs claimed
he had testified at the ICC against Kenyatta.
Websites have also "outed" purported ICC
witnesses, in one case prompting death threats against a person falsely said to
Unconnected to the ICC, two human rights activists have been
killed in the past two months by unknown attackers, HRW added.