As the sun sets on a highly electoral year, we cannot resist but reflect on the highs and lows of 2022. Our #ChambuaUongozi campaign took #AmnestyKwaGround to empower citizens to engage political aspirants across 69 wards. We continued to protect the freedom of expression and those persecuted for exercising this freedom. We noted a 39 percent drop in extrajudicial killings. Unfortunately, 18,988 households remain homeless a year after the December 2021 evictions in Mukuru kwa Njenga.
Amnesty Kenya’s contribution to peaceful, issue-based election
The country needs more leaders who understand and are committed to protecting human rights. The #ChambuaUongozi campaign aimed at conscientizing the voting population on the importance of ethical leadership. It drew linkages between poor governance and increased inequalities; and contributed to setting human rights-centred priorities for incoming governments.
The campaign directly engaged 3,131 residents in Kilifi, Tana River, Kisumu, Nakuru and Uasin Gishu counties. These individuals identified their county-specific human rights priorities and organised ward-level debates with Member of County Assembly (MCA) aspirants. Through this, they directly engaged aspirants and presented their human rights-centered priorities as an accountability tool. Twelve MCA aspirants engaged through this campaign were elected to office.
The campaign also informed the production of two Amnesty publications: Missed Opportunities: A scorecard on the Jubilee Administration and Lessons for the next government and Afya Nation, a people’s health manifesto. We believe that these publications informed the Kenya Kwanza Administration Manifesto.
Protection of the Freedom of Expression and Assembly
Freedom of expression and assembly are at the heart of a vibrant and free society. While this freedom is enshrined in our Constitution, 2022 saw the arrest and brutal use of force to stop protests. Activists Anthony Kanyari, Ninoo Kyaa, Nahashon Kamau and Clinton Ojiambo were arrested for protesting the high cost of living on 9th April 2022. We represented them in court and secured their release. Following review of their case, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutor (ODPP) has independently elected to drop charges against them. We continue to demand justice for the killing of four protesters and injury of seven others in Masimba, Kajiado County and #JusticeForEbbie who was tragically killed in her boarding school on 9th March 2019. There has been no action by authorities three years down the line and the people responsible still hold their jobs at the same school.
Protecting the right to life and freedom from evictions
Through the Missing Voices Coalition, we documented 134 extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances as of November 2022. Though a 39 percent drop in comparison to the same period in 2021, 123 killings by the police and 11 disappearances is still way……. too many. We welcome the presidential order to disband the Special Service Unit (SSU) that has been associated with extrajudicial killings.
A few nights outdoors are fun, but 365 nights are not. 18,988 households remain homeless in Mukuru Kwa Njenga more than a year after a State sanctioned eviction on 13th November 2021. We have stood with the evicted families, provided psychosocial support to the survivors, ensured community leaders’ safety, and advocated for the community’s resettlement.
Transforming Amnesty Kenya’s governance on our tenth
Our Circles of Conscience grew to 76 doubling our direct presence from seven to fourteen counties in 2022. Our movement grew to over 26,000 supporters and 2,300 members. This growth has expanded constitutionalism and freedoms, backed the brave, touched lives, and made change possible in Kenya.
2022 was particularly special for us as it marked a decade of registration as a non-governmental organisation in Kenya. To celebrate this milestone, we partnered with the Law Society of Kenya and the Paralegal Society of Kenya to organise ten legal empowerment and freedom clinics across nine counties on the 10th and 12th of October 2022. Sixty volunteer paralegals, pro-bono lawyers and human rights defenders directly engaged over 500 Kenyans in Bungoma, Kilifi, Kisumu, Mombasa, Nakuru, Eldoret, Garissa, Siaya and Nairobi counties.
28-29th October 2022 will also go down in history as two of the year’s best days. Over 80 delegates from our Circles of Conscience debated and passed a new Constitution and Governance Manual, appreciated the secretariat and board report, and elected five new Board members from our membership for the very first time. Speaking at the Annual Delegates Conference, newly appointed Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Dr. Korir Sing’oei noted; “This indicates that Amnesty International Kenya gets its legitimacy from its Kenyan members.”
To wrap up the celebrations, we threw the first of many annual Freedom Festivals in future to celebrate the gains in securing the rights we enjoy today. South African Amapiano artist Alfa Kat was the headline performer accompanied by Femi One, Eric Wainaina and many other local artists.
We close the year with some exciting news. Amnesty International Kenya is no longer a National Office of the International Secretariat. 12 December, poetically Jamhuri Day, marked our first day as an independent National Section. The International Board approved our new status after a thorough review of 5 years of strengthened governance, information management, and controls that roots our accountability first and foremost in our members.
On behalf of the board and staff of Amnesty International Kenya, we wish you a peaceful festive season and a prosperous new year. We invite you to keep your membership up to date, we look forward to interacting with you even more in 2023.
Awuor Ayiecho, Amnesty International Kenya Chairperson and Irungu Houghton, Executive Director for the Board and Staff