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Kenya: Country must address human rights record if it wants a seat at the Human Rights Council

Nairobi: 09.11.2012: ARTICLE 19 calls on the Keyna Government to clean up its act and comply with its human rights obligations. The call comes ahead of a vote in Geneva (on Monday 12 November, 2012) which could see the country selected to sit as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council. If Kenya wants to sit as a watchdog for human rights, it must do more than just growl about violations inside its own boarders. Urgent action is needed to protect fundamental human rights in Kenya.

“Violations of rights continue in Kenya with no action from the government at all. They may sign commitments to international bodies, but these commitments do not see the light of day for ordinary Kenyans” aid Henry Maina Article 19 Kenya Director.

“Kenya’s application to be one of the 13 African member states to the UN Human Rights Council provides a much needed impetus for both national and international efforts hold Kenya accountable and to meet its human rights obligations to protect all Kenyans,” he added.

While there has been some progress on human rights, significantly more work needs to be done. Violations of media freedoms and freedoms of expression continue with journalists still being subjected to intimidation, harassment and violence as they exercise their rights for the public interest. Reported cases of such remain largely un-resolved; many investigations have yet to be concluded and justice realised. ARTICLE 19 remains very concerned that promises made to pass the Freedom of Information Bill 2012 quickly will not be honoured.   

 Kenya will go to the polls early next year to elect a new government. Many efforts are underway to ensure free, fair and transparent elections in 2013. In order to achieve this, it is imperative that freedom of expression and information be fully respected, including through legal protection by Parliament.

 The Government continues to make commitments on proposed recommendations but have failed to act substantively on them. As a member of the Human Rights Council, Kenya would have the obligation to “uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights and fully cooperate with the Council.” The Council is an inter-governmental United Nations body working towards addressing violations of human rights and strengthening their protections.