Capitol Words a project of the Sunlight Foundation

  • and

Condemning Assassination Of Father John Kaiser And Others In Kenya

Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman

legislator photo

Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and agree to the concurrent resolution (H. Con. Res. 410) condemning the assassination of Father John Kaiser and others who worked to promote human rights and justice in the Republic of Kenya.

The Clerk read as follows:

Whereas Father John Kaiser, a Catholic of the Order of the Mill Hill Missionaries and a native of Minnesota who served as a missionary in the Kisii and Ngong Dioceses in the Republic of Kenya for 36 years advocating the rights of all Kenyans, was shot dead on August 23, 2000; Whereas Father Kaiser was a frequently outspoken advocate on issues of human rights and against the injustice of government corruption in Kenya; Whereas fellow priests have stated that Father Kaiser had told them the night before he was killed that he feared for his life; Whereas the brutal murders of Father Stallone, Father Graiff, and Father Luigi Andeni, all of the Marsabit Diocese, and the circumstances of the murder of Brother Larry Timons of the Nakuru Diocese, and that of Father Martin Boyle of the Eldoret Diocese have not yet been satisfactorily investigated nor have the perpetrators of the murders been brought to justice, raising growing concern over the rule of law and the justice system in Kenya; Whereas Father Kaiser's death is one more example of the hostile actions being directed against Kenyan civil society and in particular human rights groups and advocates; Whereas the report of a Kenyan governmental commission, known as the Akiwumi Commission, on the investigation into the politically motivated ethnic violence between 1992-1997 in Kenya's Great Rift Valley, has not yet been released, in spite of several requests by numerous church leaders and human rights organizations to have the Commission's findings released to the public; Whereas documents were found on Father Kaiser's body that he had intended to hand over to the Akiwumi Commission; Whereas the Kenyan Human Rights Commission has expressed the fear that the progress in the struggle for democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights, and the basic needs of all Kenyans achieved during the last few years is jeopardized by the current Kenyan Government; Whereas the Kenyan Human Rights Commission has expressed concern over the continued blatant violations of the rule of law and the constitution, acts of torture, and murder and rape by the Kenyan security forces; Whereas private armies that work with the police are known to exist in Kenya and the Government of Kenya encourages informal repression as a means of intimidating and denying citizens their rights; and Whereas the human rights movement in Kenya is in need of international support and solidarity for the important work they are doing: Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That the Congress-- (1) condemns the violent deaths of Father John Kaiser and others who worked to promote human rights and justice in the Republic of Kenya and expresses its outrage with respect to such deaths; (2) calls for an independent investigation of such deaths, in addition to the initiatives of the Government of Kenya; (3) calls on the Secretary of State, acting through the Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, And Labor, to prepare and submit to the Congress, not later than December 15, 2000, a report on the progress of the independent investigation and initiatives of the Government of Kenya described in paragraph (2); (4) calls for the findings of such independent investigation to be made public; and (5) calls on the President to support such independent investigation through all diplomatic means.

Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from New York (Mr. Gilman) and the gentleman from California (Mr. Lantos) each will control 20 minutes.

The Chair recognizes the gentleman from New York (Mr. Gilman).

Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman

legislator photo

Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks on H. Con. Res. 410.

Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from New York?

There was no objection.

Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman

legislator photo

Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

(Mr. GILMAN asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks and to include extraneous material.)

Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman

legislator photo

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this resolution. An outspoken and passionate defender of the poor, the weak and the oppressed, Father John Kaiser was shot and killed just 1 month ago. His killer still remains at large.

Although Father Kaiser knew that he was in danger, his courage and compassion never left him. He is one of a distressingly long line of clergy who have been murdered in Africa.

Eight years ago, five American nuns from Illinois were killed by Charles Taylor's NPFL soldiers in Liberia. We are still waiting for their killers to be brought to justice. We must not let 8 years slip by with no resolution of Father Kaiser's case. We owe it to him and to the voiceless on whose behalf he spoke with such energy, devotion, and commitment. We also owe it to the future of democracy and the rule of law in Kenya. As the theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr, wrote, ``Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.''

Accordingly, I urge my colleagues to fully support this measure.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

Rep. Tom Lantos

legislator photo

Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I speak with great feeling on this legislation because I introduced this legislation; and obviously, I rise in strong support of the measure.

This measure condemns the assassination of Father John Kaiser and others who fought for human rights and justice in Kenya.

Father Kaiser worked as a missionary in Kenya for over 30 years, was highly respected by all Kenyans whose lives he touched. He was an outspoken champion of human rights and justice in Kenya. But the government arrested him, placed him under house arrest, and eventually contributed to his assassination.

Prior to his death, Mr. Speaker, Father Kaiser confided in family and friends that he feared for his life. On August 23, 2000, just a few months ago, his body was found shot to death on a road not far from his home. Kenyan police immediately ruled out suicide, but there are few clues regarding his mysterious death.

I strongly applaud our Federal Bureau of Investigation for becoming involved in the effort to solve the crime, which took away one of the finest Americans ever to serve in Africa.

I strongly urge all of my colleagues to support H. Con. Res. 410 in memory of Father Kaiser.

Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman

legislator photo

Mr. Speaker, I have no further requests for time, and I yield back the balance of my time.

The question is on the motion offered by the gentleman from New York (Mr. Gilman) that the House suspend the rules and agree to the concurrent resolution, H. Con. Res. 410.

The question was taken; and (two-thirds having voted in favor thereof) the rules were suspended and the concurrent resolution was agreed to.

A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.

Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman

legislator photo

Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that the Committee on International Relations be discharged from further consideration of the Senate concurrent resolution (S. Con. Res. 146) condemning the assassination of Father John Kaiser and others in Kenya, and calling for a thorough investigation to be conducted in those cases, a report on the progress made in such an investigation to be submitted to Congress by December 15, 2000, and a final report on such an investigation to be made public, and for other purposes, and ask for its immediate consideration in the House.

The Clerk read the title of the Senate concurrent resolution.

Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from New York?

There was no objection.

The Clerk read the Senate concurrent resolution, as follows:

Whereas Father John Kaiser, a Catholic of the Order of the Mill Hill Missionaries and a native of Minnesota, who for 36 years served as a missionary in the Kisii and Ngong Dioceses in the Republic of Kenya and advocated the rights of all Kenyans, was shot dead on Wednesday, August 23, 2000; Whereas Father Kaiser was a frequently outspoken advocate on issues of human rights and against the injustice of government corruption in Kenya; Whereas fellow priests report that Father Kaiser spoke to them of his fear for his life on the night before his assassination; Whereas the murders of Father Stallone, Father Graife, and Father Luigi Andeni, all of Marsabit Diocese in Kenya, the circumstances of the murder of Brother Larry Timors of Nakaru Diocese in Kenya, the murder of Father Martin Boyle of Eldoret Diocese, and the murders of other local human rights advocates in Kenya have not yet been fully explained, nor have the perpetrators of these murders been brought to justice; Whereas the report of a Kenyan governmental commission, known as the Akiwumi Commission, on the government's investigation into tribal violence between 1992 and 1997 in Kenya's Great Rift Valley has not yet been released in spite of several requests by numerous church leaders and human rights organizations to have the Commission's findings released to the public; Whereas, after Father Kaiser's assassination, documents were found on his body that he had intended to present to the Akiwumi Commission; Whereas the nongovernmental Kenyan Human Rights Commission has expressed fear that the progress achieved in Kenya during the last few years in the struggle for democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights, and meeting the basic needs of all Kenyans is jeopardized by the current Kenyan government; and Whereas the 1999 Country Report on Human Rights released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor of the Department of State reports that the Kenyan Government's ``overall human rights record was generally poor, and serious problems remained in many areas; while there were some signs of improvement in a few areas, the situation worsened in others.'': Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), That Congress-- (1) condemns the violent deaths of Father John Kaiser and others who have worked to promote human rights and justice in the Republic of Kenya and expresses its outrage at those deaths; (2) calls for a thorough investigation of those deaths that includes other persons in addition to the Kenyan authorities; (3) calls on the Secretary of State, acting through the Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, to prepare and submit to Congress, by December 15, 2000, a report on the progress made on investigating these killings, including, particularly, a discussion of the actions taken by the Kenyan government to conduct an investigation as described in paragraph (2); (4) calls on the President to support investigation of these killings through all diplomatic means; and (5) calls for the final report of such an investigation to be made public.

The Senate concurrent resolution was concurred in.

A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.

A similar concurrent resolution (H. Con. Res. 410) was laid on the table.