27 March 2023, Nairobi Tomorrow – Amnesty International publicly releases the Global State of Human Rights Report 2022/23. The annual report documents civil, political, and socio-economic rights-related developments across the world. This statement highlights the state of human rights in Kenya over the last year.
While public expectations of a violent electoral season did not materialize, several arrests and state violence against protesters were recorded. This included arrests of protestors demonstrating against the cost of living. Most notably, four people were shot dead by the General Service Unit while protesting human-wildlife conflict in Masimba, Kajiado county. These instances undermine freedoms of expression and assembly enshrined in the Kenyan constitution. In 2023 it will be imperative that the National Police Service facilitates the right to peaceful assembly and avoids weaponization by the national executive or political interests.
Human rights defenders and state officers continue to be targeted for their public interest work. 2022 saw the tragic killing of land rights defender Elizabeth Ekaru from Isiolo and Embakasi South Electoral Commission Returning Officer Daniel Mbolu among others. The assault and murder of LGBTIQ+ persons like Sheila Lumumba, whether as a result of hate crimes or intimate partner violence, remains a concern especially in the rising homophobic attacks. We call on the Government to accelerate protection for all persons including whistle-blowers, witnesses, human rights defenders and sexual minorities.
Fourteen months on, no suspects have been arrested following the recovery of thirty-seven bodies from River Yala, Siaya County. The Independent Policing Oversight Authority has confirmed that three victims had prior interactions with police. The Directorate of Criminal Investigations has yet to make any arrests in any of the other cases. More encouragingly, the demand for an end to extrajudicial killings became a political campaign issue and following his election, President Ruto disbanded the Special Service Unit noting that it was responsible for extrajudicial Killings.
The 2022 failure to resettle 18,988 households forcibly evicted in Mukuru Kwa Njenga, an informal settlement in Nairobi’s capital, has persisted into 2023. The 3.1 million people facing acute food insecurity in 2022 has increased and these challenges have been compounded by increased cost of food and other essential living costs. While there has been progress in introducing the mass housing schemes, the right to housing and food remains unfulfilled for millions of Kenyans.
The Government did not meet its COVID-19 vaccination target of 27 million adults by December. By the end of 2022, only 9.3 million Kenyans had been fully vaccinated. As COVID-19 becomes less life-threatening to Kenyans, more effort needs to go into widening access to national health insurance and universal health care for all Kenyans.
Finally, Kenya continues to limp towards realizing gender equity and the rights of women and girls. In the 2022 General Elections, only 26 women were elected (apart from the 47 women representatives) as members of the 390 national assembly and 100 elected as members of county assemblies. The newly elected Kenya Kwanza also failed to honor its party manifesto commitment to establish gender parity across the national cabinet and have not introduced new laws to protect women and girls’ sexual and reproductive rights.
For more information and interviews, contact Mathias T. Kinyoda: Mobile at +254723424803, Email: [email protected]