Human rights in Kenya

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Foreign relations

Human rights in Kenya internationally maintain a variety of mixed opinions; specifically, political freedoms are highlighted as being poor and homosexuality remains a crime. In the Freedom of the World index for 2017, Kenya held a rating of '4' for civil liberties and political freedoms, in which a scale of "1" (most free) to "7" (least free) is practised.[1]

History[edit]

Kenyatta (1964-1978)[edit]

During the first post-independence presidency of Kenya, under President Jomo Kenyatta, state security forces harassed dissidents and were suspected of complicity in several murders of prominent personalities deemed as threats to his regime, including Pio Gama Pinto, Tom Mboya and J.M. Kariuki.[2] MP and Lawyer C.M.G. Argwings-Kodhek and former Kadu Leader and minister Ronald Ngala also died, in suspicious car accidents.[citation needed]

Moi (1978-2002)[edit]

The Daniel arap Moi administration consistently received international criticism of its record on human rights. Under Moi, security forces regularly subjected opposition leaders and pro-democracy activists to arbitrary arrest, detention without trial, abuse in custody, and deadly force.

International aid donors and governments such as the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Norway periodically broke off diplomatic relations and suspended aid allocations, pending human rights improvement.

Kibaki (since 2002)[edit]

Since 2002, under the Mwai Kibaki presidency, politically motivated human rights violations have diminished, but other serious human rights abuses persist, a great many at the hands of security forces, particularly the police. The police force is widely viewed as the most corrupt entity in the country, given to extorting bribes, complicity in criminal activity, and using excessive force against both criminal suspects and crowds. Most police who commit abuses still do so with impunity. Prison conditions remain life-threatening.

Apart from police and penal system abuses, infringements of rights in the course of legal proceedings are widespread, despite recent pressure on judicial personnel[citation needed]. Freedom of speech and of the press continue to be compromised through various forms of harassment of journalists and activists[clarification needed]. Violence and discrimination against women are rife. The abuse of children, including in forced labor and prostitution, is a serious problem. Female genital mutilation (FGM) remains widespread, despite 2001 legislation against it for girls under 16. The abuse of women and girls, including early marriage and wife inheritance, is a factor in the spread of human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS).

Kenya made some progress in 2003, when it set up a national human rights institution, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR), with a mandate to ensure Kenya's compliance with international human rights standards. Also, parliament passed the Children's Act to ensure the protection of minors, as well as the Disability Act, outlawing discrimination against the disabled.

In November 2005 the Kenyan government banned rallies of opposition parties, rejecting calls for new elections. Vice President Moody Awori stated:

The government considers these calls for nationwide rallies inappropriate and a threat to national security [...]
Accordingly, the government will not allow the planned rallies and wananchi (citizens) are cautioned not to attend the meetings.

On 3 June 2007, two days after President Mwai Kibaki stated that Mungiki members "should expect no mercy", about 300 Mungiki members were arrested and at least 20 killed.[3] John Michuki, at the time Minister for Internal Security, publicly stated following the killings, "We will pulverize and finish them off. Even those arrested over the recent killings, I cannot tell you where they are today. What you will certainly hear is that so and so's burial is tomorrow".[3][4] In the KNCHR's Cry of Blood — Report on Extra-Judicial Killings and Disappearances published in September 2008,[3] the KNCHR reported these in their key finding "e)", stating that the forced disappearances and extrajudicial killings appeared to be official policy.[3]

In November 2008, WikiLeaks brought wide international attention[5] to The Cry of Blood. In the report, the KNCHR's first key finding "a)" was that "the evidence gathered by the KNCHR establishes patterns of conduct by the Kenya Police that may constitute crimes against humanity.[3]

On 5 March 2009, two of the human rights investigators involved in the investigations documented in the report, Oscar Kamau Kingara and John Paul Oulu, were assassinated.[5][6] Their assassinations were attributed by non-governmental organisations to the security forces.[6][7]

In 2009 and 2010, Samburu people suffered severe human rights violations.[8]

Historical situation[edit]

The following chart shows Kenya's ratings since 1972 in the Freedom in the World reports, published annually by Freedom House. A rating of 1 is "free"; 7, "not free".[9]1

International treaties[edit]

Kenya's stances on international human rights treaties are as follows:

Press Freedom[edit]

Under British Rule[edit]

The seeds of the press, and media in general, were planted by English missionaries colonizing Kenya. The basic function of the publications, such as The Taveta Chronicle, Leader, and Uganda Mail[30] was to disseminate British news and create a sense of legitimacy for the English missionaries.[31] These practices continued with the introduction of the radio in 1928. However, press rights for native Kenyans were severely limited. Any opportunities for native Kenyans to access the press were used to make pleas for their freedom from colonial rule.[30]

After Independence[edit]

Individual press freedoms for the citizens of Kenya were still rather limited after they gained Independence. The new Kenyan government took control of most forms of the media in order to spread their vision of Kenyan ideals. However, at this time privately owned newspapers, such as the Standard[32] emerged, although these private entities were still subject to governmental control and censorship.[30]

2010 Constitution[edit]

The newest Constitution of the Kenyan government for the first time fully enumerated some individual rights to expression and information.[33] However, there is a lack of unilateral freedom of expression for Kenyan citizens. Amongst the most notable omissions from the enumerated rights is the right to express propaganda for war or an incitement of violence.[33] Moreover, the Kenyan government still retains some control over the spread of dissenting ideas during wartime.[34] In the realm of media specifically, the Constitution prohibits the government from interfering with the spread of truthful information or with any individual’s right to access to that information. The government nonetheless sets standards for media content and regulates the enforcement of those rules.[33]

Present-Day Press Rights[edit]

The Kenyan government, however, did not intend to staunchly adhere to these new mandates of the constitution. As recently as 2013, Kenyan policymakers amended previous laws to limit certain media coverage of terrorist attacks and attempted to suppress the reporting of the deteriorating safety in Kenya. The amendment to the Kenya Information and Communication Act works to stifle efforts of publications that put forth critical perspectives of the Kenyan government.[35] Although there have been some governmental efforts to enhance the press freedoms of Kenyan citizens, such as The Media Council Bill of 2013 which created a governmental body that would promote and protect the freedom of the media,[36] the enforcement of the act did more harm than good in promoting press freedoms.[35] According to an independent study conducted by Freedom House, Kenya’s press rights are considered to be somewhat comprehensive.[37] The press is only considered “partly free” largely because of the governmental efforts to enact laws that grant more control over media and publications.[35] Moreover, previous laws, such as the Preservation of Public Security Act, which give the government the right to declare any information to be a security threat and censor that information,[38] are still in effect and have yet to be repealed or amended.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

1.^ Note that the "Year" signifies the "Year covered". Therefore the information for the year marked 2008 is from the report published in 2009, and so on.
2.^ As of January 1.
3.^ The 1982 report covers the year 1981 and the first half of 1982, and the following 1984 report covers the second half of 1982 and the whole of 1983. In the interest of simplicity, these two aberrant "year and a half" reports have been split into three year-long reports through interpolation.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Freedom in the World 2017" (PDF). Freedom House. 31 January 2017. Retrieved 1 February 2017. 
  2. ^ [1] Archived 1 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ a b c d e "'The Cry of Blood' — Report on Extra-Judicial Killings and Disappearances" (PDF). Kenya National Commission on Human Rights/Enforced Disappearances Information Exchange Center. 25 September 2008. Archived (PDF) from the original on 28 December 2010. Retrieved 29 December 2010. 
  4. ^ Untranslated original: Tutawanyorosha na tutawamaliza. Hata wenye wameshikwa kwa kuhusiana na mauaji ya hivi majuzi, siwezi nikakwambia wako wapi leo. Nyinyi tu mtakuwa mkisikia mazishi ya fulani ni ya kesho. See Cry of Blood reference.
  5. ^ a b WikiLeaks (2 June 2009). "WikiLeaks wins Amnesty International 2009 Media Award". WikiLeaks. Archived from the original on 28 December 2010. Retrieved 29 December 2010. 
  6. ^ a b McConnell, Tristan (7 March 2009). "Rights activist Oscar Kamau Kingara shot dead in central Nairobi". The Times. Archived from the original on 29 December 2010. Retrieved 2 April 2009. 
  7. ^ "Wikileaks writers killed in Kenya". Hawai`i Free Press/WikiLeaks. 9 March 2009. Archived from the original on 29 December 2010. Retrieved 29 December 2010. 
  8. ^ Palmer, Paula; Chris Allan (20 April 2010). "Cultural Survival Releases Report on Human Rights Violations by Police in Samburu East and Isiolo Districts, Kenya" (PDF). Cultural Survival. Retrieved Sep 16, 2013. 
  9. ^ Freedom House (2012). "Country ratings and status, FIW 1973-2012" (XLS). Retrieved 2012-08-22. 
  10. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 1. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Paris, 9 December 1948". Archived from the original on 20 October 2012. Retrieved 29 August 2012. 
  11. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 2. International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. New York, 7 March 1966". Archived from the original on 11 February 2011. Retrieved 29 August 2012. 
  12. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 3. International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. New York, 16 December 1966". Archived from the original on 17 September 2012. Retrieved 29 August 2012. 
  13. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 4. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. New York, 16 December 1966". Archived from the original on 1 September 2010. Retrieved 29 August 2012. 
  14. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 5. Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. New York, 16 December 1966". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  15. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 6. Convention on the non-applicability of statutory limitations to war crimes and crimes against humanity. New York, 26 November 1968". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  16. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 7. International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. New York, 30 November 1973". Archived from the original on 18 July 2012. Retrieved 29 August 2012. 
  17. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 8. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. New York, 18 December 1979". Archived from the original on 23 August 2012. Retrieved 29 August 2012. 
  18. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 9. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. New York, 10 December 1984". Archived from the original on 8 November 2010. Retrieved 29 August 2012. 
  19. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 11. Convention on the Rights of the Child. New York, 20 November 1989". Archived from the original on 11 February 2014. Retrieved 29 August 2012. 
  20. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 12. Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty. New York, 15 December 1989". Archived from the original on 20 October 2012. Retrieved 29 August 2012. 
  21. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 13. International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families. New York, 18 December 1990". Archived from the original on 25 August 2012. Retrieved 29 August 2012. 
  22. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 8b. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. New York, 6 October 1999". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  23. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 11b. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. New York, 25 May 2000". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  24. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 11c. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. New York, 25 May 2000". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  25. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 15. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. New York, 13 December 2006". Archived from the original on 19 August 2012. Retrieved 29 August 2012. 
  26. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 15a. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. New York, 13 December 2006". Archived from the original on 13 January 2016. Retrieved 29 August 2012. 
  27. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 16. International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. New York, 20 December 2006". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  28. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 3a. Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. New York, 10 December 2008". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  29. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 11d. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure . New York, 19 December 2011. New York, 10 December 2008". Archived from the original on 25 August 2012. Retrieved 29 August 2012. 
  30. ^ a b c Omolo Ochilo, Polycarp (1993). "Press Freedom and the Role of Media in Kenya". African Media Review. 7 (3). 
  31. ^ Mungeam, G.H. (1966). British Rule in Kenya, 1895-1912: The Establishment of Administration in the East Africa Protectorate. Oxford: Clarendon P. 
  32. ^ "The Standard". 
  33. ^ a b c "Constitution of Kenya" (PDF). 
  34. ^ "Kenya Information and Communications (Amendment) Act, 2013" (PDF). 
  35. ^ a b c "Kenya parliament passes draconian media laws". Committee to Protect Journalists. 
  36. ^ "Kenya Media Council Bill, 2013" (PDF). 
  37. ^ "Kenya". Freedom House. 
  38. ^ "Preservation of Public Safety". Kenya Law. 

External links[edit]