KNCHR Calls for Rights Protection as 2022 General Election Approaches
By: Dominic Kabiru – Asst. Director & Head of Public Affairs & Communication
The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) has laid out a 2022 August general elections monitoring strategy with different components that will ensure people’s rights are protected as the election process is now on course.
These include capacity building of various key players, accurate messaging, and awareness creation of members of the public relevant during the electioneering period and provision of public education in terms of providing outreach services among others.
In order to advocate for the adherence of the rights for one to vote for the candidate of their choice and right to be voted for, the Commission has trained over 100 monitors who are currently out in the field to gather information.
In the past three weeks, the newly appointed Chairperson Roseline Odede and Commissioners Dr. Raymond Nyeris, Prof. Marion Mutugi, Dr. Dennis Wamalwa and Sara Bonaya flanked by KNCHR’s Secretariat staff, have visited 3 regions where the Commission has operational offices. These regions, which serve a cluster of Counties are; North Rift, Coast region and Central Kenya. The visits to these regions and the remaining regions of Western Kenya and North Eastern forms part of an elaborate and strategic induction programme for the new Commissioners to allow them settle in and understand all the salient issues they need to offer oversight and policy guidance as KNCHR gears up to monitor the political parties’ primaries, campaign period, actual election process and the post-election scenarios.
The recently sworn in Roseline Odede-led Commission is the 4th Commission since the KNCHR’s inaugural Commission of 2003 that was led by Maina Kiai.
During their visits to the regions the Commission has been engaging with national government administrators and security officials. These include County Commissioners, National Police Service Regional Police Commanders and other relevant security formations. Equally, the Commission has also been undertaking stakeholders’ forum with key partners, State and non-State actors within the respective Counties with the main objective of having collaborative discussions on regional and county specific human rights issues, trends and patterns and the current priorities, especially at this time the country is in an electioneering mode.
At the end of the just ended three regional visits by the KNCHR Chairperson and Commissioners, they were optimistic that, all factors being equal, the preparedness of the country to conduct a credible and fair general elections was on the right track but hastened to add that the protection and promotion of human rights for all must throughout remain paramount and monitored.
They have also urged all the stakeholders that are charged with maintaining peace, public order management and protection of human rights to note that during this election period, the respect and adherence of human rights is key, especially to the vulnerable, marginalized and special interest groups such as; women, youth, children, the elderly persons and persons with disabilities.
“We expect the election process to respect the sanctity of human rights, the rights for one to vote for the leaders of their choice and to be voted for. As a Commission, we will visit all regions in the country where we have deployed our election monitors. We will endeavour to meet all key stakeholders and members of the public for awareness creation on the observance and respect of human rights for all and at all times during the election period.” she said.
Through the KNCHR election monitors who are already in the respective Counties, the Chairperson said that collected and collated information on human rights violation will be relayed to the Commission’s dedicated 2022 Election Hub and will be validated in real time, synthesised and ultimately a call to action shared with duty bearers.
“We have also dispatched our election monitors to hot spot areas of the North Rift, the Coast, Nyanza and some parts of Nairobi, especially in the informal settlements which in the past have borne the blunt of election violence. The election monitors are also following up political campaigns messaging on social media platforms to identify adversarial messages and hate speech.” added Odede.
The KNCHR Chief Executive Officer Dr. Bernard Mogesa said that during the 2022 general elections, KNCHR will lay greater emphasis on monitoring sexual and gender based violence which has in the previous elections been used as a tool of electoral abuses. In 2017 KNCHR recorded 201 cases and some of them were resolved in court. However, some remain unresolved to date despite KNCHR’s call for action by the relevant duty bearers.
All in all, the Commission has in the past worked closely with the Inspector General of National Police Service in making sure women and children are protected and are not a collateral to election violence. We hope this protection will be up scaled” he said.