, BANJUL, Gambia, Nov 10 – It was a case of the past haunting the present as the Kenyan delegation was put to task to explain a series of issues revolving violation of human rights at the ongoing 57th ordinary session of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights.
The commission used past incidences to push its agenda by citing areas where the government may had lost track as outlined in the charters that govern the commission.
The Kenyan delegation had presented a detailed report on key areas addressing various concerns raised largely by a delegation of 14 Non-Governmental Organisations but it didn’t go unquestioned.
The commissioners largely demanded the government to explain the current status of the freedom of expression, press freedom, access to information and measures taken to ensure the current war on terror was carried out in respect to human rights.
“How has the government addressed concerns of human rights as it continues to counter terrorism?” the commission asked.
The 2014 Usalama Watch operation was for example in focus after allegations that the government infringed on rights of people more so those of a certain origin.
The operation was largely concentrated in Eastleigh, Nairobi where the Kenya Police believed tens of terrorists and their sympathisers were harboured.
It also sought to flush out illegal immigrants from the country following a series of grenade attacks that claimed scores of lives.
On the issues of press freedom, the commissioners praised the Kenyan Constitution for “having progressive clauses in that protect and allows freedom of expression.”
They however expressed disappointment over what they termed as efforts by the government to reverse the gains brought by the 2010 Constitution by introducing offensive amendments.
On spot was the controversial Security Laws Act, whose eight clauses were declared unconstitutional.
Kenya will also be required to shed light on alleged assassination of two human rights defender and illegal detention of another.
Kenya will also be required to highlight “measures taken to ensure petty offenders do not serve more than six months in jail.”
On this, the government was asked to provide a breakdown of prisoners – juvenile, male and female as well as explain how cases of juveniles are handled.
“We want to know the requirement of Non-Governmental Organisations seeking to visit a prison,” the commission demanded.
The Independent Policing Oversight Authority, whose autonomy has been said to be under threat if Section 14 of the Independent Policing Oversight Authority Act is amended also featured.