BANJUL, Gambia, Nov9 – It was an uphill task for the Kenyan Government, as it presented its report at the 57th ordinary session of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights amid accusations of violating a number of human rights.,
The government admitted that it has tried to adhere to all the set standards set by treaties it is party to, but pointed out corruption, poverty, terrorism and lack of adequate resources as the major hurdles.
“While Kenya has the constitutional, legal and administrative measures to guarantee rights, inadequate resources have been a challenge to their actualization,” reads a report presented to the commission.
The government, through Senior Deputy Solicitor General Maryanne Njau then went ahead to highlight some of the major milestones it has done to implement the African charter that governs the commission.
A section of civil society organisations attending the forum however accused the government of failing to address the real issues “by reading the obvious. It was too much of paper work.”
The government touched on all areas that had largely been highlighted by a delegation of 14 Non Governmental Organisations attending the forum, who had accused the government of failing to uphold human rights, encouraging corruption, statelessness among a set of other accusations.
Njau defended the National Police Service from accusations of executing suspects of terror saying, “the Government of Kenya respects the right to life and has been unequivocal in condemning acts of unlawful killings by the police whenever they are alleged to have occurred.”
Any allegation of unlawful killing, she said, “is investigated by the authorities and perpetrators are tried and convicted by a competent court if found to have used unreasonable force.”
“Indeed, officers are now held personally responsible for their actions if found to have committed an offence.”
To further safeguard the right to life, the government said torture and slavery are prohibited and outlawed in Kenya.
During the forum, reports presented by the Kenyan NGOs accused the police of engaging in torture, are cruel, degrading and involved un-inhuman punishment in the war against crime.
In response, Njau noted that Kenya has already put in place various pieces of legislations that criminalize torture and other ill treatment.
“The training curriculum for police officers now incorporates practical training on respect for human rights, including the prohibition of torture and ill treatment which is also strongly prohibited by the National Police Service Act,” she added.
Kenya already has a civilian led oversight body, the Independent Police Oversight Authority, established in 2011, which provides the much needed accountability and monitoring functions over the Police Service.
The Government has however been accused of trying to neutralize the independence of the commission.
The area of contention revolves around the current proposed amendments to section 14 of the Independent Policing Oversight Authority Act, which they argue “will undermine its (IPOA) independence by subjecting the chairperson to possible dismissal by the President.”
Improved Facilities in Detention Facilities
In regards to detention facilities, the Government pointed out that Persons Deprived of Liberty Act was enacted in 2014; the Act provides that a person deprived of liberty shall at all times be treated in a humane manner and with respect for their inherent human dignity.
In this regard, some of the reform measures undertaken in Kenya’s detention facilities, she said include; improved nutritional diet considerations for detained persons, decent bedding and sanitary facilities.
Also introduction of community service orders to decongest prisons and construction of new accommodation limits for inmates in specific prisons to ease congestion in Yatta, Makueni and Kwale Prisons.
It also includes releasing of prisoners found to be terminally ill or with chronic diseases, releasing of boys held in Borstal Institutions, and other inmates on license before completion of their terms based on good conduct.
Further, she said the government was providing prisoners with the opportunity for useful employment through vocational training in accordance with Rule 71(3) of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules, for the Treatment of Prisoners.
Njau also noted that, the government was also recruiting professionals held in prisons in relevant disciplines.
On the rights of refugees, she said, “refugees in the camps access healthcare, education, water and sanitation services. Food aid is provided regularly to all refugee households in the camps.”
To ensure access to justice by refugees in the camps, she said the Government has established police stations in the camps as well as regular mobile courts and allowed legal aid organizations to operate within the camps.
The report also focused on areas of health, Agriculture, extractive industry among other key sectors.
On Monday, Kenya will engage the commission after which Kenyan delegation will be required to answer queries raised during the session.
The National Police Service is presented by the Kenya Police Spokesperson Charles Owino, who will defend the service.
The commission will later hand a list of recommendations to the government, to be implemented within a set timeline.
Kenya Non-Governmental Organisations want the government to form an all inclusive team to oversee the implementation of the various recommendations set to be proposed by the continental commission.