Top Stories / National
Sunday, 02 Oct 2016 18:02 EATnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.com
An American-based human rights NGO has released a report decrying the declining human rights situation in Kenya. The Freedom House report assesses Kenya’s progress towards improving government accountability, promoting civic liberties, human rights, rule of law and transparency over a three-year period, between January 2013 and July 2016.
Vukasin Petrovic, Freedom House’s director for Africa programmes, said, "Our report highlights major concerns regarding civic space, human rights, corruption and rule of law that should be at the forefront of political debate. The assessment identifies critical gaps in key institutions within Kenya that should be addressed.”
Among the findings is that political and bureaucratic corruption and regular state overreach prevent the full promise of Kenya’s legal and institutional framework from being realized. The group said that remedial action to rebuild the credibility of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is needed.
The NGO also noted that “persistent and serious abuses by security forces” is impairing Kenya’s democracy. Despite constitutional and other legal safeguards against violence and ill treatment, civilians experience regular hostility from state authorities, most frequently the police.
The NGO praised the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA), the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) and the Commission on Administrative Justice for highlighting human rights abuses but held that the groups’ lack of prosecutorial powers impedes their capacities to curtail the abuses.
While noting that “Kenya’s Judiciary is robust and has made strides toward greater independence, effectiveness, and fairness in recent years,” the report said that “Executive interference in the judiciary remains a challenge.” It cites the phenomenon of the executive disregarding binding court orders as evidence of the interference.
The report also addressed itself to the high level of corruption, saying that scandals involving embezzlement, misallocation of funds, and distribution of patronage remain a top concern. It cited the statement by the immediate former chairman of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission that up to one-third of the annual budget is lost to corruption.
"This analysis comes at a crucial time for Kenyan democracy with elections next year and a change in judicial leadership," said Petrovic. The report calls on Kenya to give necessary protection to whistleblowers, anti-corruption activists, and investigators of corruption cases.