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KNCHR Chairperson Opening Remarks at BMM Conference.

Principal Secretary State Department of Immigration, Border Control & Registration of Persons; Maj. Gen (Rtd) Dr. Gordon Kihalangwa,

Representative from the IGAD,

Representative from the European Union,

Representative from the UNECA,

CEO and Representatives from KNCHR,

Representatives from the Network of African National Human Rights Institutions (NANHRI),

The Executive Director of Network of African National Human Rights Institutions (NANHRI), Mr. Gilbert Sebihogo

Invited Guests,

All protocols observed.

Good Morning to You All.

For those who are visiting Kenya, we say…Karibuni sana. Kenyans are very hospitable people, so be assured you will enjoy great hospitality during your stay in Kenya.

I am honored to grace this occasion and to make opening remarks in my capacity as the Chairperson of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR).  I will start by briefly introducing who we are.

As KNCHR, our key mandate is;

  • To promote Constitutionalism by advising and supporting public and private actors in Kenya to promote the respect, protection and realization of fundamental human rights;
  • To protect the sovereignty of the people by advising and moving our country towards a human rights State; one that respects and promotes the rights of all citizens that includes group rights and minority rights and
  • To secure the observance of human rights and freedoms of all State organs, including national security and private institutions.

At this moment I wish to pass hearty congratulations to our Partners from GIZ, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the Network of African National Human Rights Institutions (NANHRI) and staff from the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) for organizing this first ever Regional Conference on Migration and Human Rights in Kenya.

As a human rights defender who has worked in different Institutions at the International, Regional and National levels; I must admit that my own experience has exposed me to dynamics of migration. Migration can simply be defined as ‘a movement of people or group of people from one place to another in search of better life or for greener pastures.’ The said movement can be organized or spontaneous, voluntary or involuntary. 

We live in a fast paced world which has enhanced movement of people around the globe. The world is a global village where increased movement of people has been fortified by factors such as: technological innovations in transport, medical care, education, housing, growing economies, increased democratic space, but also poor governance, civil wars, bad politics, poverty and unemployment among others.

A reflection of Kenya’s positioning in terms of Migration shows that Kenya is a regional hub for regular and irregular migration. Current statistics published by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United States in its Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report,  as well as statistics published by the Danish Refugee Council under Kenya’s Country Profile (2016), point to the fact that Kenya is a country of origin, transit and a destination to both regular and irregular migrants.[1]

On the other hand, according to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) 2017 figures, it is estimated that 258 million people live in a country other than the country of their birth.[2]

It is therefore timely for Kenya and the Horn of Africa to engage in this discussion on “How Human Rights Principles can or should influence Migration Governance.”

This conference will not only provide clarity but also a way forward on how the State and Non-State actors can enhance collaboration to address the migration-related challenges and the vulnerabilities that result in massive human rights violations for migrants.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is my hope that this conference will enable all stakeholders and participants to engage soberly and candidly on the subject of human rights and migration governance.  I encourage all of us to allow comprehensive discussion on how the State and non-state actors can effectively identify any existing gaps and give recommendations that will enhance migration governance through enhanced coordination and collaboration among key stakeholders and reduce instances of violations of migrants’ rights.

As the National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), KNCHR, is implementing projects on Migration Governance and Human Rights by working closely with the State and Non-State actors in Kenya with the aim of mainstreaming human rights principles in migration governance within the country. This would not be possible without the support of the GIZ- Better Migration Management (BMM) programme. 

In addition, the Commission works closely with the Government of Kenya using different strategies in different platforms in order to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights for ALL. It is notable that often migrants are frequently forgotten in key discussions by States due to historical injustices and prejudices that accompany the title or name ‘migrant.’

In most instances, discussions about migration tend to be focused on migrants’ economic contribution and security. Rarely do we appreciate that migrants do influence not only the economic development of a country but also the political, social and cultural make up of a country. This calls for a comprehensive discussion on how migration impacts a country and how best to safeguard human rights and spur positive and sustainable development.

The former UN Secretary-General, the late Kofi Annan (May he Rest in Peace!) in his 2002 report[3] titled ‘Strengthening of the United Nations: An Agenda for Further Change’ identified, “migration as a priority issue for the international community and called upon the need for a unified United Nations ‘voice’ on migration”

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Commission reiterates the importance of a Human Rights Based Approach (HRBA) to migration governance, as a key tool towards enhancing realization of human rights for ALL in migration governance. This approach allows the State to safeguard the rights of the migrants and the host communities by focusing on the following salient pointers: 

  • What are the problems/gaps?
  • Who are the key actors?
  • Who has been left behind (most vulnerable)?
  • What reforms are needed?
  • What action must be taken to address the identified problems and enhance safeguards for the most vulnerable in the society?

Migration in itself is not a negative factor rather, irregular and forced migration considerably increases the vulnerability of migrants’ resulting in massive human rights violations that defeat the essence of human dignity and life.

 I leave you with a quote from the former UN Secretary-General, the late Kofi Annan, who said

“Humanity will not enjoy security without development; it will not enjoy development without security; and it will not enjoy either without respect for human rights.”

This is to mean, for a State to enjoy security and development the RESPECT for HUMAN RIGHTS must be CENTRAL!

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, will continue its monitoring work as far as the right to migration is concerned. We will walk with all our Partners through all the steps and the ultimate journey of realizing the enjoyment of this fundamental freedom and its provision.

I wish you fruitful deliberations and a pleasant stay for the next few days.

 

Ms. Kagwiria Mbogori

Chairperson, KNCHR

 

[3] Strengthening of the United Nations: an agenda for further change, A/57/387, 9 September 2002.

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