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Written by KHRC    Thursday, 07 May 2015 15:27   
Joint Human Rights Organizations Statement on the registration of the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Human Rights Commission

7th May 2015, Nairobi| We the undersigned Human Rights Organizations applaud the trailblazing decision of the High Court of Kenya on April 24, 2015 that members of a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer (LGBTIQ) community could formally register their organizations in a manner recognized by the state. This is in response to a petition filed by Eric Gitari, seeking to have the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC) registered under the Non-Governmental Organizations Coordination Act.

The Non-Governmental Organizations Coordination Board rejected the group's request to register in March 2013. The Board said that the name of the organization was “unacceptable,” and that it could not register it because Kenya's penal code “criminalizes gay and lesbian liaisons”.

The court’s decision is a significant victory for the LGBTIQ community in Kenya. The decision clearly stated that the denial of registration of NGLHRC violates Article 36 of the Constitution of Kenya, which protects everyone’s freedom to associate with others, and clearly includes the LGBTIQ community and individuals in Kenya.

 

icon Joint Human Rights Organizations Statement on the registration of the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Human Rights Commission

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 07 May 2015 15:56 )
 
Written by KHRC    Thursday, 30 April 2015 09:26   
Statement on Human Rights Violations by Metal Refineries (EPZ) Limited and Affiliate Entities on Communities Living in Uhuru Owino

29th April 2015, Nairobi | The Kenya Human Rights Commission expresses its dismay over lead poisoning and other serious human rights violations on communities living in Uhuru Owino area of Mombasa County, and calls upon Kenyan authorities to investigate and bring the perpetrators of these detestable crimes to justice. The recent feature by Kenya Television Network (KTN) named Profits for Plague exposes serious human rights violations by Metal Refineries (EPZ) Limited and its affiliate entities on communities living in Uhuru Owino in Mombasa. The level of impunity depicted by the company was highly appalling and the inordinate complacency of government institutions charged with safeguarding the rights of its citizenry shocking. The feature revealed gross human rights abuses including irreversible damage to the health of community, dangerous labour conditions, unrealistically low wages, discrimination against workers, abuse of children’s rights and severe environmental degradation. Visibly, years of wanton destruction of the environment has resulted to increased mortality, slow cognitive development among children, debilitating health and generally increased vulnerability of the community living in the area.

The Kenya Human Rights Commission strongly condemns the actions of Metal Refineries (EPZ) Limited. Further, the Commission is extremely concerned by the inaction of government institutions charged with licencing, regulation, enforcement and compliance. The inaction further intensified the human rights violations. Of particular note, we would like to highlight the following:

  • The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) failed to adhere to provisions of the Environmental Management and Co-ordination Act in issuing a licence to Kenya Metal Refineries Limited and neglected to conduct further monitoring even after receiving reports on the unlawful and irresponsible emission and disposal of toxic fumes and waste ; and
  • the Ministry of Health and the Department of Health of the Mombasa County Government failed to pursue and enforce requirements under the Public Health Act to remove the toxic substances such as lead that are dangerous to the health of workers and communities living in Owino Uhuru.

The Constitution of Kenya binds the State and all persons including corporate bodies to respect human rights. On this basis, businesses have responsibility to take into account the impact of their operations on human rights. The Government on its part has a duty to protect citizens against violations by third parties.

We therefore demand:

  1. that Government, as a matter of urgency, conducts elaborate screening of the community members and provides treatment to all those that are found to have lead poisoning;
  2. that the Government fulfills its obligation under Article 21(3) of the Bill of Rights by evacuating all residents of Owino Uhuru to avoid further exposure to lead poisoning and providing rehabilitation and psychosocial support for all affected persons;
  3. that NEMA immediately issues a comprehensive Environmental Restoration Order to Metal Refineries (EPZ) Limited and/or its affiliates as provided for under Section 108 of the Environmental Management and Co-ordination Act to restore Owino Uhuru to its original state;
  4. that the Government provides protection for the community representatives who have been threatened following exposure of the human rights abuses by Metal Refineries EPZ) Limited;
  5. the Director of Public Prosecution institute proceedings against the owners of Metal Refineries (EPZ) Limited as an offence under the Environmental Management and Co-ordination Act; and
  6. that the Government fulfills its duty under Article 21(4) of the Bill of Rights to enact and implement legislation in respect of human rights by developing a policy and law to address violations of human rights by business entities
  7. that after full audit of the Environmental Social Impact Assessment the victims be fully compensated.

                                                                    END

Media bookings contact:

Audrey Kawire Wabwire | Communications Manager | E: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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Written by KHRC    Wednesday, 15 April 2015 10:08   
Human Rights Organizations are not Terrorist Organizations

14th April 2015, Nairobi | We the Civil Society Organisations express our deepest condolences to all affected by the heinous terrorist attack at the Garissa University College on 2nd April 2015. We strongly condemn this act and the despicable attempts to cultivate religious and ethnic tensions within Kenyan society. As we come to terms with the loss of such young and promising lives, we must recall that Kenya’s true strength lies in its ethnic, cultural and religious diversity coupled with a determination to live in peace and unity as one indivisible sovereign nation.

The Kenyan human rights community is extremely concerned about the decision to freeze the accounts of two human rights organisations, Haki Africa and Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI), in the aftermath of the terrorist attack in Garissa.

According to Gazette Notice 2326 of 7th April 2015, the Inspector General has listed five organizations under a list titled, “List of Terrorist Organizations”. These are Al-Shabaab, Mombasa Republican Council, Al-Qaida, ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) and Boko Haram. The same Gazette notice contains a longer list titled, “List of Entities Suspected to be Associated with Al-Shabaab.” This list has 85 entities which appear to be companies, business organizations and individuals. MUHURI and Haki Africa have been listed here.

As peer human rights organizations, we have worked closely with both MUHURI and Haki Africa in our attempt to counter violent extremism and improve security at the Coast. Both organizations work openly and peacefully and have advocated for constitutional means of ensuring countering terrorism while also observing human rights. Their work is respected nationally and internationally. Notably, the Executive Director of Haki Africa, Hussein Khalid, was one of two Kenyan civil society leaders who was invited to and participated in the White House Summit in DC on Countering Violent Extremism in February 2015. We therefore do not see a justification for the inclusion of these two organizations in this list.

We note that the Prevention of Terrorism Act, on which the notice in the Gazette is purported to be based, confers on the Inspector General and the Cabinet Secretary, the power to make a “specified entity order” against an entity involved in terrorism. The Act also provides that “Before making a recommendation … the Inspector-General shall afford the affected entity an opportunity to demonstrate why it should not be declared as a specified entity.”

We are concerned about the procedure that has been used by the Inspector General. First, although the law clearly provides that the Inspector-General shall afford the affected entity an opportunity to demonstrate why it should not be declared as a specified entity, the two organisations have had no contact with the Inspector-General and have learnt about this process from reading the Kenya Gazette. The failure to give the organisation’s notice or to allow them an opportunity to defend themselves is inherently prejudicial and offends all notions of fairness.

Secondly, as indicated above, the Gazette Notice has two lists, the first containing five entities listed as terrorist organizations, and the second with 85 entities listed as entities suspected to be “associated with Al-Shabaab.” Because the list is long and the organizations whose names form the list appear unrelated, we are concerned that the list is a meaningless attempt to bring under one label different organizations, many of which may be innocent, as terrorist organizations.

While we support the Government’s effort to also counter violent extremism, particularly in the wake of the killing of 147 Kenyans, mostly university students from Garissa University College, we consider the listing of MUHURI and Haki Africa to be an unthinking reaction to intimidate not only the two organizations but all civil society. Such reactions have continued, the latest being the demands by a group of Kenyan legislators and the Deputy President to close down Daadab refugee camp, disregarding Kenya’s obligations under regional and international law and blaming violent extremism on asylum-seekers and refugees.

We emphasize that, without due regard to the standards and procedures outlined in law requiring material grounds for claims of terrorism-related activities and affording the affected individuals and organisations reasonable opportunity to demonstrate why they should not be declared specified entities, any action taken is of dubious legality and unfair, and devalues the government’s efforts to fight terrorism.

Counter-terrorism can only succeed if both civil society and the Government work together to counter violent extremism. Continuous antagonism of civil society will only aggravate the situation. We wish to express our solidarity with our peer human rights organisations and reaffirm our commitment to countering violent extremism through rule of law.

We therefore demand:

  1. Unconditional removal of MUHURI and Haki Africa from the terrorism list and the immediate lifting of any freezing or restriction of the activities of these organisations;
  2. That the Government adheres to Article 47 of the Constitution of Kenya which provides for the right to “administrative action that is expeditious, efficient, lawful, reasonable and procedurally fair.” In particular Article 47 (2) which provides that: “if a right or fundamental freedom of a person has been or is likely to be adversely affected by administrative action, the person has the right to be given written reasons for the action.”
  3. That the Government upholds Article 27(4) in the Bill of Rights and desists from profiling individuals of Muslim or Somali descent;
  4. That the Government fulfills its obligation to protect its citizens by enhancing its security presence in vulnerable parts of the Country and assures all citizens and residents of Kenya of their safety. In this regard the Government should address root causes of insecurity, including inequality and other grievances in vulnerable parts of the country;
  1. That the Government acknowledges the important role played by civil society in promoting tolerance in the struggle against violent extremism and ensure an enabling environment in which human rights defenders and civil society can operate free from hindrance and insecurity.| END

SIGNED

  1. Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC)
  2. The Kenya Section of International Commission of Jurists (ICJ Kenya)
  3. National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (NCHRD-K)
  4. Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice (KPTJ)
  5. Constitution & Reform Education Consortium (CRECO)
  6. ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa
  7. Human Rights Watch
  8. Freedom House
  9. Mazingira Institute
  10. UHAI - the East African Sexual Health and Rights Initiative
  11. Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya, the (GALCK)
  12. Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI)
  13. FIDH, within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
  14. OMCT, within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
  15. Coalition for Constitution Implementation (CCI)

Inquiries: Audrey Kawire Wabwire | Communications Manager | This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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Last Updated ( Monday, 20 April 2015 08:47 )
 
Written by KHRC    Thursday, 09 April 2015 14:58   
Insecurity May Further Marginalize North Eastern Kenya

9th April 2015, Nairobi | The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), takes this opportunity to express its deepest condolences to all affected by the heinous terrorist attack undertaken by the Al Shabaab terror group at the Garissa University College on 2nd April 2015. We strongly condemn this act and the despicable attempts to cultivate religious and ethnic tensions within Kenyan society. As we come to terms with the loss of such young and promising lives, we must recall that Kenya’s true strength lies in its ethnic, cultural and religious diversity coupled with a determination to live in peace and unity as one indivisible sovereign nation.

Such strength has already been on display through the gallant efforts of our security officers whose response saw 663 students rescued even as some of the officers made the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives in the line of duty. In the aftermath of the attack, the indomitable spirit of the Kenyan people has been illustrated through various forms of support and donations taken to the families at Chiromo Mortuary, Kenyatta National Hospital and Nyayo National Stadium. We also compliment the Kenya Red Cross Response teams that were on the ground soon after the attack working closely with other command structures within the government and deploying ambulances and paramedics at the scene. We must also commend the spontaneous efforts by Kenyans to ensure that the memory of the victims is celebrated and not forgotten, most particularly through the “#147notjustanumber” campaign that is now a global discussion online, and the vigils that have accompanied it.

We must however reflect on the challenges we have encountered in combating this terror threat and the Commission wishes to state as follows:

1.  In addition to the immediate security threat, the government must also safeguard against the social and economic isolation of the Northern Kenya region as it bears the brunt of these terrorist attacks. The Garissa attack comes in the wake of similar incidences in Mandera County that had already seen an exodus of teachers who had cited the region as being unsafe. In similar fashion, Garissa now faces the indefinite closure of the only University College in the region. This has the huge potential of curtailing the right to education for most families. These actions are a huge setback for a region that had only begun to emerge from a history of social and economic marginalization through the promise of devolution. With the education sector already in peril, it would be catastrophic if other public services such as their already fragile health sector were to follow suit. It is imperative that Kenyans are able to exercise their freedom of movement and conscience and that the government guarantees the security of individuals in every part of the Country.

The government must enhance its security presence in these counties that have been consistently targeted by Al Shabaab and give an assurance to ALL residents of their safety. This must however be reinforced by a concerted effort in conjunction with local leaders to counter the narrative of ethnic and religious division that is being propagated by Al Shabaab.

Most importantly, the government must immediately follow through on the President’s pledge in his State of the Nation Address for “strategic initiatives in marginalized and at-risk regions and populations of our country”. We call on the wider Kenyan public to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in this region and frustrate all those who seek to divide us through fear.

2.  The government in undertaking counter-terrorism security operations must uphold all human rights obligations and abide by the Constitution. We must remember that Al Shabaab hopes to undermine our governance structures by playing into our fear and provoking us into measures such as collective punishment and discrimination against targeted groups. The government must instead embrace an inclusive and consultative approach that establishes a partnership with the public in as far as a counter-terrorism strategy is concerned. All investigations and prosecutions must be done in accordance with the law so as to curb any allegations of victimization or persecution that Al Shabaab may wish to rely on.

3. The government must fully commit to and invest in comprehensive security sector reforms governed by the rule of law. Such reforms include: a clear coordination framework for all security agencies that is respectful of the Constitution and related laws; the proper allocation and use of resources in responding to security threats; and a rapid improvement in the welfare of security personnel entrusted to keep us safe. The President’s recent directive on police recruitment unfortunately undermines these reforms by creating a dispute with the Judiciary and other State organs rather than maintaining a focus on the terror threat.

    We must pay tribute to our fallen comrades by reaffirming our Kenyan unity and way of life based on the values of human rights, equality, freedom, democracy, social justice and the rule of law.

     

     

    Atsango Chesoni

    Executive Director the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC)

    | END

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