Citizens with mobile phones intend to keep Kenya’s election clean and peaceful

February 24, 2013

Bukeni Waruzi – just back from a field trip to Kenya – posted an excellent piece on “Witness‘ blog on 23 February  under the title “Can Cell Phones Save Kenya’s Elections?. Here some excerpts:

The December 2007 elections were marred by unprecedented violence: killings, rapes, lootings, attacks on civilians, and massive displacement. Historically peaceful, Kenya devolved into violence that caught many unprepared—including human rights activists who were unable to use video to document the magnitude of what was happening.


Activists were honest and realistic: “We didn’t have the skills; we didn’t have the tools; we were not prepared.” I was there to assess the possibility of building activists’ capacity to document election violence through video—and the idea was well received. Over and over again, I heard things like “we’re working hard to prepare to document election violence, if any occurs, and your training will come right in time.”

And so I’ve just returned from training over 120 activists and citizen witnesses in five cities: Mombasa, Kisumu, Eldoret, Nakuru and Nairobi. Doing what WITNESS does best, we worked with citizens and activists who want to use video to document and advocate against rights violations. That meant making sure that people have the skills to document rights violations at any time, with available means, to maximize the availability and viability of evidence.

The ‘means’ is a critical component, and Kenya is well placed in this respect: just last month, the country achieved a 77% cell phone usage rate. Many people have access to Android phones, and these Android phones are equipped with cameras. So the gap in Kenya is in skills, and that’s what our training focused on. We taught concrete lessons, like how to film on a mobile phone, and how to film so that videos can stand as evidence in a trial.

The post refers to election video documenting guides online, in Swahili with tip sheets designed as quick, concrete, and easy-to-follow guides to filming the Kenyan elections.

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