Article by PBI-Canada

The Peace Brigades International-Kenya Project has posted: “PBI Kenya began the year on a high note, by continuing to support the work of the HRDs [human rights defenders] of the Social Justice Centres in Kenya through a new project titled ‘Raising the voice, visibility and effectiveness of the human rights movement in Kenya’.”

“It seeks to advance advocacy capacities in order to contribute to their ability to bring issues of human rights violations, and solutions, to the national debate.”

PBI-Kenya further notes: “This project will also hope to contribute to preparing human rights defenders for the planned elections, especially in enhancing their safety and security.”

That general election is scheduled for August 9, 2022.

In May 2017, just prior to the last general election in Kenya, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders commented: “Human rights defenders often face hostile discourse from State officials and are denigrated via smear campaigns with the aim to delegitimize their work. …This has particularly affected human rights defenders and civil society addressing voters’ education and electoral monitoring ahead of the general elections.”

“As Election Day approaches, Kenyan political authorities have seemed increasingly reluctant to work with civil society on the issue and have publicly condemned and limited civil society planned activities around voters’ education and electoral observation.”

It further noted: “Moreover, the mission heard testimonies of increased gender-based violence, including sexual assault, against WHRDs in the context of the upcoming general elections or when participating in public demonstrations.”

That report calls on the international community to: “Continue to grant particular attention to the protection of human rights defenders in Kenya, in accordance with the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the EU, the Swiss, the French the Irish, the Dutch, the Finnish, the Norwegian and the Canadian Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders.”

Following the 2017 election, Human Rights Watch stated: “The elections were marred by serious human rights violations by Kenyan security forces, who used excessive force to break up protests and carry out house-to-house operations particularly in opposition strongholds in Nairobi and western Kenya.”

It further noted: “At least 12 people were killed by police in western counties of Kisumu and Siaya alone and another 33 in Nairobi during the violence.”

And in March 2018, the Canada-Africa Parliamentary Association visited Kenya. It met with PBI-Kenya and other human rights organizations. That meeting discussed elections and the parliamentary report stated: “Both male and female candidates sometimes engage private militia to intimidate their opponents and the people who support them. Freedom of the press is often violated; there have been allegations that journalists have been intimidated, arrested and even murdered.”

The full article by PBI-Kenya can be read here. The Observatory’s report is at 2017 Elections: Broken Promises Put Human Rights Defenders At Risk.


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