, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 7 – The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights is urging the government to fully implement the Bill of Rights as outlined in the new Constitution to ensure Kenyans reap maximum benefits of the new law.
KNCHR Chairperson Florence Jaoko said the Legislature and the Judiciary had a responsibility to safeguard the Bill of Rights to protect the fundamental rights of every Kenyan.
“For us at the commission, the Bill of Rights must have meaning for the citizens of this country because our report is not intended to be kept on the shelf,” she said.
Speaking at the launch of the commission’s periodic report titled “Making the Bill of Rights Operational,” Jaoko said the commission will keep the policy makers on toes to ensure the basic human rights are not violated.
“We are going to engage with the persons who are going to do the implementation and have discussions with them on ensuring that some of the suggestions we have made will actually become a reality,” she affirmed.
She said the commission was already involved in training public officers to sensitise them on the implementation process, particularly on the Bill of Rights.
“This is extremely important because in order for the Kenyans to realise the Bill of Rights, individuals should be able to access our courts whenever they feel their rights have been violated or those of others,” she said.
Senior Counsel Pheroze Nowrojee termed the report as extremely valuable because it is coming at a time Kenya is undergoing a major transformation.
“And so change only comes when there is a constant exercise of the rights and protection which are in the bill and the rest of the Constitution as well. When we look into the rest of the constitution apart from the bill of rights you will see a constant stream of human rights which are articulated and constantly protected,” Nowrojee said.
Among other things, the report calls for the need to embrace legal, safe abortion and the right to reproductive health in Kenya.
The report says that although abortion is prohibited under the Constitution, there are clearly spelt out exceptional circumstances under which an abortion can be carried out.
“It is these conditions that are referred to as safe abortion,” the report states.
It says Kenyans have a right to get information on safe abortion and how it can be carried out because it is taken care of in the Constitution.
“The components that make up reproductive health include access to information on reproductive health services including information on safe abortion, freedom to determine the timing, number and spacing of children as well as contraceptives,’ the report adds.
The report concludes that while there exists a basic legislative framework to support the protection of human rights, it needs to be urgently reviewed to include the broadened framework of the new Constitution.