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Lobby slams Uhuru administration over widespread human rights violations

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The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights has taken a swipe at President Uhuru
Kenyatta’s administration for reversing gains in human
rights protection since taking over power in 2013.

The lobby group on Monday said human rights violations by Uhuru’s office have been perpetuated
from numerous attacks on the media and civil society groups.

Vice chair George Morara said threats to
the media and activists by State House have denied the two groups their
lawful role of protecting human rights.

“We must
acknowledge the fact that since 2013, the CSOs and media have come under
increasing attacks, especially from the Executive Arm of the Government, mostly
for no other reason than the fact they were standing up for human rights_for
someone’s rights,” Morara said.

He spoke at
the University of Nairobi when Kenya joined the world in marking the 70th International
Human Rights Day attended by top government officials and foreign diplomats.

Government
officials present were the Council of Governors chairman Josphat Nanok, Nairobi
Governor Mike Sonko and Secretary of Justice in Attorney General’s office
Maryanne Njau.

Diplomats
include Head of European Union delegation Stefano Dejak, UN Resident
Coordinator in Kenya Siddharth Chatterjee and UN High Commissioner for Human
Rights representative Marcella Favretto.

Others were
Amnesty International- Kenya chairperson Renee Ngamau, her executive director
Houghton Irungu and the Safaricom Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Steve Chege.

“We have
seen threats of closure, actual closures, threats of deregistration and actual
deregistration of some members of these key actors in the promotion of human
rights in Kenya,” Morara said.

He was
citing the controversial January 30 swearing in of NASA leader Raila Odinga as
people’s president that saw major television station switched off in preventing
them from covering the event.

Morara was
also citing last year’s move by the Jubilee administration to deregister
several civil society groups and Foundations during the election period.

The KNCHR
vice chair challenged the Presidency to stand up for the rights of a “vibrant”
civil society and media by implementing the Public Benefit Organization Act,
2013.

“This Act
provides a sound framework for enhancing the efficiency of civil society while
at the same time promoting a healthy co-existence between CSOs and the state,”
Morara said.

“Full
implementation of the Act will create a win-win outcome. It will also boost our
rule of law index since our courts have already issued orders that the Act be
operationalised.”

The Amnesty
International-Kenya chair decried rising incidences of human rights violations
in the country including unlawful evictions and extrajudicial killings in the
country.

“As we rededicate ourselves to the
ideals of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we call on Kenyans to
demand that all citizens regardless of their class, gender, ethnicity or sexual
preference fully enjoy the rights and freedoms contained in the Declaration and
our own Bill of Rights,” Ngamau said.

Nanok, the Council of Governors chair, raised concern
over runaway corruption, ‘rotten government’ and disregard to rule of law as
vices impeding enjoyment of human rights in the country.

“These
are some of vices that have constantly kept tying us in poverty. Actualizing
human rights is through action, not words,” Nanok said.

The
Head of EU delegation in Kenya lauded progress the country has made in champion
human rights compared to the neighboring countries while challenging women to fight
for equal political representation.

“Gender
inequality is a big case in Kenya but it is not the two thirds gender bill that
will resolve the inequality. There is much more that needs to be done,” Dejak
said.

He
noted that no society can develop fully unless women are also involved without
discrimination.

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