Statement by the KHRC on the State of Human Rights in Kenya at the 60th session of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights in Niamey, Niger

 

Madam Chairperson,

On Civic space, in the last year alone, various actions were taken by state offices to restrict the operations of Civil Society Organizations. While the Public Benefit Organization Act was passed in January 2013, the Act is yet to be commenced 4 years later. In October 2016, CSO’s successfully obtained a judgment ordering the immediate commencement of the Act; however, the court order to date has not been implemented. Further to the foregoing, attacks on CSOs and human rights defenders have been on the increase as witnessed through threats of deregistration to CSOs as well as use of excessive force during peaceful protests by security agencies.

We call on the Commission to:

  • impress upon the Government of Kenya to commence without further delay the Public Benefit Organization’s Act;
  • require the government to immediately cease and desist from using arbitrary and unnecessary force and violence to disperse unarmed and peaceful protests and to hold to account security agents who use arbitrary and unnecessary force on unarmed citizens exercising their right to assemble and picket;

Madam Chairperson, distinguished guests;

Corruption in Kenya seems to be spiraling at a very alarming rate. A recent report by Transparency International placed the country 145th out of 176 countries with a score of 26 based on its corruption index. The past year has been replete with the emergence of numerous grand corruption scandals both at the national and county government. Additionally, allegations of corruption in government contracting, particularly for large mining and infrastructural projects have been on the rise. This is particularly worrying for a government that came into power on an anti-corruption ticket. Key ministries mandated to develop and implement policies regarding delivery of basic services have not been spared in the looting.

We call on the Commission to:

  • Encourage the government to translate the President’s pledge on fighting corruption into a comprehensive and transparent process based on the rule of law and our Constitution’s standards on leadership and integrity. The fight against corruption must be comprehensive and shielded against any possible accusations of political bias;

 

Madam Chairperson, distinguished guest;

Over the last 15 months, Civil Society Organizations and media houses in Kenya have reported and documented multiple incidents of torture, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions implicating police officers. The unlawful execution of Willie Kimani, a lawyer with International Justice Mission (IJM), his client Josephat Mwenda, a motorcycle rider, Joseph Muiruri, a taxi driver and lately a young man in Nairobi’s Eastleigh on the 31st of April 2017 are just a few of the many cases which got covered in the media. Kenyan Security agencies continue to use lethal crowd control weapons on peaceful demonstrators that has left a number of citizens severely injured and in extreme circumstances led to death.

We urge the Commission to:

  • adopt the Resolutions on Death Penalty, Summary Executions and Enforced Disappearances from the 57th Session and also recommend that Kenya ratifies the International Convention for the Protection of all persons from enforced Disappearance (which was signed by Kenya on the 6th of February 2007); and
  • recommend the Government of Kenya to institute a Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Extra Judicial Executions.

Madam Chairperson;

Preparations for the 2017 general elections have been marred with various irregularities as was evidenced in the recently concluded political party primaries. We have condemned in no uncertain terms incidents of violence, particularly on women aspirants, which have included threats and intimidation, physical violence, sexual violence, hate speech, and defamation. The unpreparedness of various state agencies tasked with ensuring that this year’s elections are free, fair, and peaceful may dent the credibility of this election.

We call upon the Commission to constitute a delegation to closely monitor the 2017 General Elections in Kenya to ensure that the exercise is free, fair and credible.

In Conclusion 

The KHRC commends the Government of Kenya for its recent recognition of the citizenship rights of the Makonde community. We note the need to expand citizenship rights and state recognition to members of other communities in Kenya and urge the government to implement laws and policies to ensure a fair and efficient citizenship determination and documentation procedure for all stateless persons. In addition, we urge all African Union member states to address the problem of statelessness within their jurisdictions, and draw support from the ACHPR in coming up with laws and policies to address this issue.

 


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