This report covers an eventful period in the history of defending human rights defenders in Kenya. The country went through general elections in the year and characteristically, the divisive campaigns contaminated the operational environment of the country’s CSOs and HRDs. The work of the NCHRD K was therefore very much linked to the elections. Subsequently, the advocacy and protection programmes of the NCHRD K asserted the centrality of HRD actors as election monitors, repositioning the place of human rights defenders in the election process. Activities through the year emphasized the protection of conducive environment for the work of HRDs as well as the protection of individual HRDs most at risk.
During the year, NCHRD-K put in place a comprehensive programme to manage risks to human rights defenders in the country. Together with partners, the NCHRD-K built an early warning scenario building and strategy group that regularly assessed risks for human rights monitors. Response interventions were then designed within informed parameters. The NCHRD-K deployed about 102 monitors from all the 47 counties and HRD groups at risk such as sexual minority groups, journalists, bloggers and indigenous peoples to take part in monitoring the elections. Wherever risks to the monitors were reported, the NCHRD-K took rapid measures to manage them. The reports of the monitors were publicly shared with duty bearers who came under pressure to respond to things requiring their attention in line with commitments reached in the partnership built with the NCHRD K in the preparatory meetings leading to the process.
The NCHRD-K built a strong, secure and effective team of country wide monitors, equipped through a comprehensive training program to monitor, document and report on human rights violations during Elections 2017. As a result, there were robust human rights based monitors in the elections team in the particular process. In part, the high-quality information and reports of HRD monitors involved in the elections were critical in ensuing electoral petition following the announcement of the presidential election results. Aspects of the observation endorsed the Supreme Court decision to cancel the results for irregularities and illegalities noted in the process. Significantly, observation of human rights in the election process became part of the ventilations in the petitions in which HRDs directly took part. The success attained in monitoring the elections is discussed further in this report.
Going by the incidence reports to NCHRD K, risks faced by individual HRDs and organizations increased in the reporting year. The NCHRD-K working with its partners, particularly the Protection Working Group and the Human Rights Defenders Working Group managed to better clarify the priorities and build a coherent program to respond to the environment. As such, the mandate of the organization to carry out protection of HRDs at risk was conducted with remarkable success, even as human rights faced a tempestuous moment in the backdrop of the elections.
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