THEME: Enhancing The Role Of HRDs in Governance and Encouraging Constant Dialogue for Complementary and Effective Relationships
In Kenya, activism increasingly combines informal networks and formal organizations to some effect, and these activists have in general distanced themselves from the political opposition and views creating a non- cordial working relationship between HRDs and duty bearers.
The work of HRDs is well anchored in international law through the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights further recognizes the critical role of HRDs and calls for their protection by respective states. Chapter 4 of the Kenyan Constitution 2010 has the Bill of Rights which calls for protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. However, the same is not anchored in national legislation. There are however existence of provisions in substantive legislation that threaten the exercise of constitutionally guaranteed rights which HRDs fall victim to.
NCHRD-K has observed increased intolerance of human rights defenders’’ work. HRDs are faced with personal threats, physical attacks and killings because of highlighting issues of public concern and violations. They are further faced with legal challenges as their work is criminalized. In the past years, several HRDs have been charged under laws that criminalize the right to peaceful assembly like rioting after proclamation, incitement to cause violence, resisting arrest and unlawful assembly.
HRDs working on critical but sensitive issues like countering violence extreme have been physically targeted and faced with arbitrary arrest, detention and even torture. This cuts across the country where HRDs are arrested and charged for unlawful assembly, slapped with punitive bail and bond terms. Other HRDs like journalists and bloggers have faced libel suits and criminal charges that include undermining the authority of a public officer among others.
NCHRD-K has further documented legislative and administrative challenges that limit the civic space within which HRDs and CSOs are able to carry out their human rights work.
It is on this basis that NCHRD-K will facilitate dialogue between the HRDs, service providers, media and the duty bearers in various counties. This will include members of judiciary, county government officials and national police service to create awareness of the existence of HRDs in the county and their critical role in the promotion and protection of human rights and good governance, foster political will for HRDs in governance, and encourage constant dialogue for a complementary and effective relationship.