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Written by KHRC    Monday, 15 September 2014 13:01   
CSOs Statement on EAC-EU Economic Partnerships Agreement

We, the civil society organizations, farmers associations, workers, FAIRTRADE gathered here today, wish to express our deep fears and concerns on the nature and design of the on-going negotiations to conclude an Economic Partnerships Agreement (EPA) between the East African Community and the European Union (EU). We wish to raise our voices to the European Union and government negotiators that:


1.  We are deeply concerned about the asymmetrical nature of the EPA negotiations thus far. Studies show that EAC’s  51.3% of tariff lines/products where there is current local production will be put at risk, perhaps even damaged (1,100 tariff lines out of 2,144) as these are lines where liberalization will take place and the EU is more competitive on these lines than the EAC. Taking into account potential future production (tariff lines where there is no current production), 2,366 tariff lines will be liberalized making the possibility of having future production in these products questionable. In total, 68.8% of all tariff lines or products could be put at risk (current and future production).

2.  We further express concern with regard to the delays in agreeing the European Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the European Union and the East Africa Community (EAC). In particular, we wish to alert you to the potentially severe impact on the lives of 500,000 people dependent on the Kenyan floriculture business. Fair-trade and Kenya flower council works with large numbers of cut flower producers in Kenya, who largely supply European retailers. More than 33 out of 61 Fairtrade certified cut flower producers are Kenyan. Together, they employ over 32,000 workers. Country wide, the Kenyan Flower Council have estimated that over 500,000 people including 90,000 direct flower farm employees depend on the floriculture industry for their livelihoods. It is the second largest agricultural foreign exchange for Kenya valued at more than $250 million a year.

3.  Small-scale farmers and producers are alarmed by the agricultural subsidies provided in the EU; and the weak safeguards provided for in the EPAs. The EU has rejected the discussion of its subsidies in the EPAs on the grounds that this is a WTO issue. However, we argue that the issue of subsidies has not been addressed in the WTO as  developed countries, including the EU have failed to live up to what was agreed on during the WTO Hong Kong Ministerial to eliminate export and trade distorting subsidies by 2013.

4.  We further note that the programme is the most expensive scheme accounting for more than 40% of its annual budget and one of the most controversial. In 2013 the budget for direct farm payments (subsidies) and rural development-the twin “pillars” of Comprehensive Agricultural Policy–is 57.5 Billion Euros (Euros 49bn), out of a total budget of 132.8 billion euros (that is 43% of the total). Most of the CAP budget is direct payments to farmers.

5. There is ample evidence to show that agricultural subsidies in the EU have led to dumping of agricultural products with far reaching implication on Africa’s agricultural production and agro-processing.EU is spending way too much on subsidies when agriculture creates just 1.6% of EU GDP and employs only 5% of EU populations

6.  We note that EAC having been in these negotiations since 2007, the European Union’s rigid and unilateral deadline to Conclude EPAs is not a desirable way in achieving the desired results. The conclusion of any Free Trade Agreement like EPA must take into account the interests and address the concerns of both parties, and not through timeframes. Therefore, we urge the EU to show necessary flexibility in the negotiations process, respecting the different levels of development of each EAC country.

7.  We urge the EAC negotiators should therefore continue pushing for an extension of the Regulation 1528/2007 to such a period where the negotiations have been concluded or an alternative trade arrangement has been initiated. It should be appreciated that the difficult to conclude these talks are not only on the shoulders of EAC countries, but also due to rigidity on the side of the EU.

8.  We emphasize that trade policy instruments such as export taxes are an integral part of East African industrialization since they promote value addition, protects infant industries and improves agricultural productivity. We further note that export taxes remain very critical after the discovery of oil, natural gas and other minerals. In fact, Kenya’s accession agreement to WTO does not prohibit it from imposing export taxes. We therefore seek an agreement that protects the livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers and producers in the EAC region.

9. Civil society organizations, workers and Smallholder farmers argue that negotiators and the private sector have focused extensively on commercial interests without focusing on major aspects of labor, standards, human rights, environment and climate change as well as development as it was initially envisaged by the Cotonou Partnerships Agreement. The cost of signing EPA is much higher than the benefits. Kenya stands to lose USD 193.2 million and gain just about USD 87.1 million upon signing an EPA.

10. We therefore call upon the international trading partners to extend duty free quota free treatment to Least Developed Countries and non-Least Developed countries in Africa. If this is enacted, a country like Kenya which is in a least developed region will have the same trade regime with her Least Developed Counterparts of Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania.

11.  We note with concern that the tariffs that will be imposed will increase the price of cut flowers considerably. This extra cost must either be borne by producers themselves, or by European traders and major retailers. The imposition of tariffs therefore poses a high risk of trade moving away from Kenyan sourcing into countries which are retaining preferential market access into the EU, such as Ethiopia as a Least Developed Country. The imposition of tariffs is an unacceptable price for Fairtrade farmers and workers to bear. Fairtrade works to alleviate poverty through establishing fair trading relationships between European businesses and Kenyan producers. Through this relationship flower workers and their communities have seen improved healthcare, income, education, and reduced poverty. We now fear that the work of many years will be undermined.

12. We therefore ask the EU to extend the current tariff regime beyond 1 October 2014, to allow negotiations to be successfully concluded. Should agreement not be reached, we ask you to ensure that the moves to approve the Commission Regulation granting GSP preferences to Kenya are successfully concluded in time for 1 October 2014. We urge the European Commission to act with the utmost responsibility and awareness of the impact their decisions will have on the lives of hundreds of thousands of workers in Kenya’s floriculture industry, and with due regard to its high level commitments to poverty reduction”


 13.We retaliate that the 1st October deadline should not be a basis upon which the talks should be based on but on how to conclude the talks. In order to have a “win-win” outcome of negotiations, then the EU must be willing to support the development pillar that addresses supply side constraints. In addition, Special and differential treatment has to be part and parcel of the developmental EPA. We therefore urge the EU to extend the waiver with tariff preferences for Kenyan horticultural produce including flowers, beyond 1st October until the outstanding issues between the EU and EAC are finalized.scroll back to top
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 16 September 2014 10:01 )
 
Written by KHRC    Monday, 25 August 2014 13:19   
African States: Reject Immunity for Leaders


For Immediate Release


African States: Reject Immunity for Leaders
141 Groups in 40 Countries Speak Out


(Johannesburg, August 25, 2014) – African countries should reject immunity for sitting leaders for grave crimes before the African Court for Justice and Human Rights, 141 organizations said today in a declaration<https://www.hrw.org/news/2014/08/22/call-african-states-reject-immunity-serious-crimes-african-civil-society-organisatio> in advance of an African Union meeting in Nairobi. The organizations include
both African groups and international groups and have a presence in 40 African countries.
The African Union (AU) Office of the Legal Counsel is convening a meeting in Nairobi on August 25 and 26, 2014, with government officials of AU member countries in East Africa to promote ratification of AU treaties. Discussions, which will take place at the Hilton Hotel, are expected to include a newly adopted protocol to extend the African Court’s jurisdiction to trials of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, while providing immunity for sitting leaders and other senior officials. The protocol to expand the authority of the African Court was adopted at the 23rd African Union summit, in Malabo in June.


“The immunity provision is a regrettable departure from the AU’s Constitutive Act, which rejects impunity under article 4,” said George Kegoro, executive director of theInternational Commission of Jurists-Kenya<http://www.icj-kenya.org/>. “Immunity takes away the prospect that victims can access justice at the African court when leaders commit atrocities. African states should take a clear stand opposing this immunity.”

The adopted Protocol on Amendments to the Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights<http://legal.au.int/en/content/press-conference-au-summit-decision-protocol-african-court-human-and-peoples-rights>
is the first legal instrument to extend a regional court’s authority to criminal jurisdiction over genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. The protocol also covers 11 additional crimes and notably provides for an independent defense office.


But Article 46A bis of the amendments provides immunity for sitting leaders, stating: “No charges shall be commenced or continued…against any serving African Union Head of State or Government, or anybody acting or entitled to act in such capacity, or other senior state officials based on their functions, during their tenure of office.”

The statutes of international and hybrid international-national war crimes tribunals reject exemptions on the basis of official capacity. Other international conventions, including the Convention against Torture, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of \ Genocide, and the Geneva Conventions of 1949, recognize the crucial importance of accountability for serious crimes.

“Granting immunity to sitting officials is retrogressive, and risks giving leaders license to commit crimes,” and Timothy Mtambo executive director at Malawi’s Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation. “Immunity also risks encouraging those accused of the crimes to cling to their positions to avoid facing the law.”


Some African countries like Benin, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, and South Africa rule out immunity for sitting officials for serious crimes under their national laws, the groups said.

This text of the group declaration was drafted by Malawi’s Center for Human Rights and Rehabilitation, with input from several African organizations and international organizations with a presence in Africa.


“Instead of retreating from important achievements to limit impunity, advance the rule of law, and promote respect for human rights, African governments should remain steadfast in supporting justice for victims of the worst crimes by rejecting immunity before\ the African Court,” said Angela Mudukuti, international criminal justice project lawyer at the Southern Africa Litigation Centre<http://www.southernafricalitigationcentre.org/>.


To read the declaration,please visit:

https://www.hrw.org/news/2014/08/22/call-african-states-reject-immunity-serious-crimes-african-civil-society-organisatio


To see other group initiatives by these organizations, please visit:


http://www.icj-kenya.org/index.php/media-centre/press-releases/20-press-statement/598-letter-to-the-justice-ministers-and-attorneys-general-of-the-african-on-immunity-of-heads-of-states


http://www.southernafricalitigationcentre.org/2013/11/18/salc-in-the-news-icc-africa-should-reject-free-pass-for-leaders/


http://www.issafrica.org/uploads/African-civil-society-letter-to-AU-on-ICC-withdrawal-Oct-2013.pdf


For more information, please contact:
In Accra, for Media Foundation for West Africa, Sulemana Braimah (English): +233-302-242-470; or +233-244-520-243;
or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it <mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text42765 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >


In Dakar, for Rencontre
Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme, Aboubacry Mbodji (French):
+221-777-408-683; or
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it <mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

In Johannesburg, for Human Rights Watch, Tiseke Kasambala (English): +27-110-622-852; or +27-792-205-254;
or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it <https://mail.hrw.org/owa/redir.aspx?C=62bfcf6eb34e4416a6066327f155ddaf&URL=mailto%3Akasambt%40hrw.org>


In Johannesburg, for Southern Africa Litigation Centre, Angela Mudukuti (English): +27-767-623-869; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it <mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text38306 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >


In Kampala, for Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (English), Penny Mbabazi Atuhaire: +256-777-753-566;
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it <mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

In Kampala, for Ugandan Coalition for the ICC, Patricia Bako (English): +256-785-138-755; or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it <mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >


In Kigali, for Human Rights First Rwanda Association, Louis Busingye (English): +250784252917; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it <mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text84064 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >


In Lilongwe, for Center for Human Rights and Rehabilitation, Timothy Mtambo (English): +265-992-166-191; or
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it <mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

In Nairobi, for Kenya section of the International Commission of Jurists, Stella Ndirangu (English):
+254-20-208-4836/8; or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it <mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >


In Pretoria, for the International Crime in Africa Programme, Institute for Security Studies, Jemima
Njeri (English): +27-832-346-566; or +27-123-469-500; or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it <https://mail.hrw.org/owa/redir.aspx?C=62bfcf6eb34e4416a6066327f155ddaf&URL=mailto%3Ajnjeri%40issafrica.org>





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Last Updated ( Monday, 25 August 2014 13:36 )
 
Written by KHRC    Monday, 04 August 2014 14:08   
Regional Conference on Promoting Long Term Election Observation with a focus on Voter Registration

Atsango Chseoni,Executive Director, KHRC addressing the media during; Promoting long term election observation regional conferenceAtsango Chseoni,Executive Director, KHRC addressing the media during; Promoting long term election observation regional conference

The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), The Elections Observation  Group (ELOG) and The East and Horn Africa Election Observers Network (E-HORN) have joined efforts and organised a regional conference commencing today the 4th to 6th August, at Ole - Sereni Hotel, Nairobi.

The conference seeks to assess the overall performance and effectiveness of long term election observation and monitoring as a process through which an election is scrutinized and evaluated for purposes of determining its impartiality in terms of organization and administration.

Among those invited are representatives from civil society organizations involved in election observation in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan and Sudan, regional observer networks such SADC-ESN and WAEON; the election
management body in Kenya (IEBC); developmental partners; EHORN secretariat; and the Kenya Human Rights Commission staff who will seek to exchange knowledge and experiences that will contribute to improving the integrity of elections through long term election observation activities.

Election observation in Africa tends to be heavily focused on procedures on polling day yet this is only one aspect of the election process. The opportunities for abuse are usually created, deliberately in the pre-election period when the voter register is prepared, political parties formed and registered, candidates nominated and campaigns carried out. On the other hand the election observation period of field presence is often too short to cover the entire process and hardly is the number of observers sufficient to ensure adequate coverage.

The main strategy proposed for dealing with this problem is to employ a system of long-term observation as opposed to short-term observation. While short-term observation covers the activities of voting, vote counting and the declaration of results, long-term observation involves observing the events that define the electoral process from the setting up of electoral management bodies, voter registration, voter education, political party registration, candidate nomination political campaigning and media issues, voting and the counting through to the swearing in of elected regimes.

Admittedly, most of the observation bodies in Africa have been struggling to operationalize the concept of long term observation. This has been exacerbated by lack of or limited resources in the post-election period. As a result, most
long term observation attempts have remained informal and limited in scope hence reduce in effectiveness. These problems can be tackled within a framework of institutionalized observation in which a universally acceptable mechanism that is bilaterally agreed upon is employed. This is what informs the need to have a regional conference aimed at engaging peer to peer to come up with a resolution on the way forward in the region.

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Last Updated ( Monday, 04 August 2014 14:42 )
 
Written by KHRC    Thursday, 24 July 2014 06:06   
KHRC Statement on Ground Breaking Ceremony for the Memorial to Victims of Torture and Ill-treatment During the Colonial Era (1952- 1963)

Mzee Gitu Wakahengeri, Mau Mau War Veterans Association Spokesperson address the media during the ground breaking ceremony on Tuesday July 22, 2014. Flanking him on the right is the British High Commissioner to Kenya, Dr. Christian Turner.Mzee Gitu Wakahengeri, Mau Mau War Veterans Association Spokesperson address the media during the ground breaking ceremony on Tuesday July 22, 2014. Flanking him on the right is the British High Commissioner to Kenya, Dr. Christian Turner.

On 6th June, 2013 the British Government and the Mau Mau War Veterans Association (MMWVA) and with support from the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) reached an out of court settlement with respect to the case of Ndiku Mutua and Four Others – V – Commonwealth Office HQ09X02666.  This settlement had three components:

  1. A statement of regret which was made on behalf of the British Government by its Foreign Secretary the Right Honourable William Hague;
  2. An ex-gratia payment of British Sterling Pounds 2,650 being Kshs. 340,000/- to each of 5,228 claimants identified as having suffered acts of torture; and
  3. The construction of a “Memorial to the Victims of Torture and Ill-treatment During the Colonial Era (1952-1963)”.

The settlement was duly approved and expressly authorized by the clients as required by law.

To encourage public participation a Mau Mau design competition was held and at least 5 entries from interested designers were received. The winning design was announced on 22nd May, 2014.  Today, 22nd July, 2014 we gather here to break ground for the construction of the memorial. It is designed as a memorialization feature for the remembrance of all victims of torture and ill treatment during the colonial era.

We commend the MMWVA; for their resilience in ensuring that they see the reparations process through to the memorial process. The British High Commission (BHC) with whom we continue to enjoy a cordial relationship.  We are grateful to the National Museums of Kenya for offering their expertise on memorization processes. We thank the Nairobi County for offering the construction site at the Freedom Corner and agreeing to meet some of the costs towards construction of path ways leading to the monument.

The Next Steps in this process are:

  1. The unveiling of the monument which we hope will be done in December on Jamhuri Day;
  2. The establishment of a Mau Mau on line library by December;
  3. Continuous support for the cause for actualization of justice for victims of torture and injustice in the post-colonial era; and
  4. Scaling up of advocacy to regional and international levels to ensure that heroines, heroes and indeed other victims of past injustices are appreciated in processes and series of symbols and joint interventions that can firmly condemn these past evils as well as start a discourse that would offer a lasting insulation against regression to such atrocities.

Once again thank you for being here with us today.

Atsango Chesoni, 22nd July, 2014

Executive Director, the KHRC

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 24 July 2014 06:23 )
 
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