OHCHR’s engagement with Kenya predates the 2007 elections. In the nineties, the Office supported the establishment of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and it has continued to engage with the Commission, as well as key civil society actors ever since.
Following the outbreak of violence in December 2007, OHCHR conducted a fact-finding mission to assess the human rights violations in the aftermath of the elections with a view to establishing responsibilities and combating impunity. Since then, OHCHR has been providing technical expertise and advice on the transitional justice process especially in the framework of the establishment of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC).
The United Nations Country Team (UNCT) requested OHCHR to deploy a Human Rights Advisor (HRA) to assist the UNCT with the mainstreaming of human rights throughout its programmes and activities. The post was filled in August 2008. The HRA within the Resident Coordinator’s Office has also worked with the Government, especially the Ministry of Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs (MOJNCA) and the Office of The Prime Minister (OPM) in following up on the treaty body recommendations and implementation of the Constitution from a human rights-based approach. The HRA has also sought to build the capacity and strengthen the Kenya National Human Rights Commission (KNHRC). In addition, the HRA has provided support on protection issues with respect to the humanitarian response to the food crisis in the sub-region.
The HRA’s significant achievements in Kenya are the result of strategic partnerships within the UN and with national actors both governmental and non-governmental. Furthermore, the establishment of a Human Rights Focal Points network within the UN as a tool for engagement and mainstreaming sustained interest and involvement of UN agencies on human rights issues has proven to be useful. This team serves as a the core coordination mechanism for monitoring the implementation of UNDAF from a human rights perspective, for UN support to the TJRC process and for the follow-up to the implementation of the recommendations resulting from the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).
Human Rights Context
A new Constitution was adopted in Kenya on 27 August 2010 and a Commission charged with the implementation of the new Constitution was established to monitor, facilitate and oversee the development of legislation and administrative procedures required for its implementation. Challenges remain in terms of addressing impunity and accountability. In September 2010, the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor named six high-ranking individuals as those most responsible for crimes committed against civilians in the post-election violence in 2007/2008. In September 2011, the ICC held hearings to confirm charges against the six people. On 23 January 2012, the ICC ruled out that four senior Kenyan Officials are to stand trial over the post-election violence. They are accused of crimes against humanity, including murder and persecution. Charges against two other individuals were not confirmed. However, there is still need to have a local mechanism to try other perpetrators of the post-election violence. A number of internally displaced persons (IDPs), due to the post-election violence, are still living in camps and are yet to be resettled. The concern is that IDPs may not be settled in advance of the upcoming elections. In January 2012, the Kenyan High Court ruled that national elections will not be held before March 2013, unless the President and Prime Minister decide to dissolve the Coalition Government; in such case, the elections could take place in 2012.
Kenya is hosting the biggest Somali refugee camp in the world, the Dadaab Camp in the District of Garrissa, in the Eastern part of the country. Recently some foreign aid workers and citizens were abducted both in the Dadaab refugee camp and the Kenyan Island of Lamu.
French and British citizens have died as a result of these criminal acts.
Kenya reported to CESCR and CAT in October 2008 and hosted the Special Rapporteurs on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Mr Philip Alston, in February 2009, as well as on the human rights of IPDs, Mr. Chaloka Beyani, in September 2011. On 22 September 2010, Kenya’s UPR outcome report was adopted unanimously. Out of 150 recommendations that were made, Kenya accepted 149. In 2011, with the assistance of OHCHR, the Ministry of Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs held two follow-up workshops, with the Parliamentarians and the national stakeholders respectively, to prepare a 4-year plan of action for the implementations of the recommendations made to Kenya under its UPR.
OHCHR’s thematic priorities for Kenya in 2012
The overarching thematic priorities for 2012 will be impunity, rule of law and discrimination. In dealing with these themes, the HRA will promote economic, social and cultural rights, women’s rights as well as the right to a free and fair electoral process.
- Discrimination, with a focus on indigenous groups, persons with disabilities, IDPs and women.
- Impunity and rule of law, focusing on implementing the recommendations of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC). As the lead agency on transitional justice, OHCHR has invested in the development of a number of tools that are useful for supporting national actors working on transitional justice issues.
- Poverty and economic, social and cultural rights, with a focus on marginalized communities, especially within areas hosting refugee communities and the justiciability of these rights.
- Violence and insecurity, with a focus on creating a secure and free of violence environment for the electoral process. Though the country was able to contain the post-election violence in 2007-2008, the possibility of repeated violence cannot be ruled out.