Kenya reviewed by the UPR: impressive efforts of civil society
Thursday, 13 May 2010 13:43

On the morning of 6 May 2010, the Working Group on the UPR reviewed the human rights situation in Kenya. Mr Mutula Kilonzo, Minister for Justice, National Cohesion, and Constitutional Affairs, headed the delegation. While Mr Kilonzo gave opportunities to members of the delegation to answer questions, they were not introduced by title, nor by what ministry or department they represented. Although the review began with a large number of African and developing States praising Kenya’s efforts to promote human rights in the face of poverty, the overall balance of questions and recommendations throughout the interactive dialogue was fairly split between praise and constructive criticism. Issues raised during the session included:

  • Ensuring the success of the upcoming constitutional referendum, scheduled for June 2010.
  • Calls for cooperation with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in its investigation into the post-election violence of 2008, recommendations to set up a local tribunal to avoid any ‘gaps’ in justice, and calls to ensure the full protection of human rights defenders, specifically witnesses cooperating with the ICC.
  • Rights of the child, including raising the age of criminal responsibility, combating trafficking in children for sexual exploitation and labour, and ensuring access to health and education for street children.
  • Addressing concerns raised by the Committee Against Torture regarding poor prison conditions, ill-treatment of prisoners, and the inclusion of a definition of torture in domestic legislation.
  • Rights of women, including concerns over trafficking in women for sexual exploitation, domestic violence, and high rates of maternal mortality.
  • Concerns over continued corruption, with calls for judicial and police reform, including human rights education and training for judicial and security personnel.
  • Calls for addressing recommendations by the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples (specifically regarding ratification of International Labour Organization Convention 169), and recommendations by the Representative of the Secretary General on the rights of internally displaced persons.

Although the delegation addressed most questions and concerns raised during the interactive dialogue, its responses suggested it felt that most necessary reforms, policies, and programs were already in place. Additionally the issue of decriminalisation of same sex marriages was raised by several States, but the Kenyan delegation in its closing statement at the adoption of the draft report of the Working Group rejected the issue in its entirety, calling such acts ‘against nature’ and ‘repugnant’. Of the 150 recommendations made, Kenya accepted 128 and rejected 7. The remainder was left pending until the adoption of the outcome by the Council. In addition to the mentioned refusal to decriminalise same-sex marriages, Kenya rejected recommendations calling for the abolition of the death penalty and recommendations dealing with indigenous rights with the argument that all Kenyans of African descent are indigenous.

Of note was an NGO side event hosted by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and Kenya’s UPR Stakeholders’ Coalition. The event was well-attended by both State and NGO representatives, and served to raise and discuss key issues and recommendations brought forth by the various stakeholders.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 August 2010 07:50
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